Photo: Britt Reints
With iPad apps to keep kids entertained and GPS systems to keep Mom and Dad from getting lost, today's family vacation has gone high-tech. We're not complaining. In fact, we're recommending a few more ways to let technology improve your next trip. The good news is all of these iPhone apps are free!
1. Sit or Squat
A long day of sightseeing is guaranteed to be interrupted at least once by a bathroom break. Sit or Squat helps you find the nearest public restroom, including ones that don't require a purchase to use them. Make your own contribution to the community by rating the bathrooms your family frequents.
The free TripIt app syncs with your free TripIt account, where you can keep track of all of your travel plans and reservations. Long gone are the days of digging through your purse for print outs and confirmation numbers; the TripIt app keeps everything a finger click away. You can also check in to your flight, call your hotel, and get directions to the restaurant where you've made reservations -- all without leaving the app.
Whether you're in your favorite American city or heading to Europe for the first time, chances are you'll find the directions you need to get around town in HopStop. This free app makes navigating public transit a breeze and can also provide directions by taxi or by foot. Do not leave home without it.
4. SnapShot Postcard
Choose a picture from your phone's photo album, type a message, and choose a mailing address from your contact list. BAM! Personalized postcards from your family vacation are printed and mailed for you by SnapShot Postcard. Each card costs as little as $0.80 per piece to print and mail (or as much as $1.99, depending on how many credits you buy at once.) Before you hit the road, set up a SnapShot account and purchase your credits so you're ready to send you favorite memories back home.
Planning an epic family road trip? Plan to download RoadAhead before you go and you'll be able to see into the future. OK, not the future, but down the road and off the exit ramp. This app helps you plan where to pullover for gas and food, showing you which merchants are available at each exit, how far off the exit they're located, and which gas stations have the best price.