Summer is the season of roadtrips. Roadtrips can be a lot of fun but, especially for families with younger kids, they can also be stressful. While there's probably no technology can credibly claim to completely remove the conflicts, complaining, and stress related to car trips with kids, the iPhone, iPad, and apps do offer some ways to at least make the trip more enjoyable.
1. Music & Games
Keeping kids occupied and interested is a great way keep trips enjoyable (this goes for adults, too!). One great way to do this is to provide music they like and games they enjoy. You can get music via apps, iTunes, or the CDs you already own. Games are available through the App Store. These articles will help you snag a few pleasing distractions.
- 9 Free Music Apps - most require an Internet connection
- 15 Radio Apps - all require an Internet connection
- Top MP3 Download Stores - for buying new songs for the trip
- Copying CDs to iTunes - bring your current CDs with you
- Creating Playlists - custom travel mixes
- All About iPhone/iPad/iPod touch Gaming
Movies or TV shows are another good way to keep people entertained on long drives. The iPad's big, appealing screen is perhaps the ideal place to watch movies, but the iPhone and iPod touch (as well as some other iPod models) can play movies, too. The question, of course, is where to get them?
- Programs that Convert DVDs - bring your DVDs with you in iPhone/iPod/iPad format
- iTunes TV/Movie Rentals - rent movies or TV shows from the iTunes Store for the trip. They last for 24 hours once you start watch or 30 days, whichever comes first. You can also buy movies or TV shows at iTunes if you'd prefer to watch them again.
3. Books: E, Audio, and Comic
Besides games and movies, the iOS offers a wealth of reading options for beginning readers or more mature bookworms--and there's no doubt that a good, engrossing book is a terrific way to pass the time on a trip. Whether you and your kids enjoy eBooks, comics, or audiobooks, you've got options.
- 5 Great eBook Apps - free classics or paid modern titles from your choice of stores
- Buying at iBookstore - the same using Apple's iBookstore and iBooks app
- Terrific Comics Apps - like comics? Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, and many other publishers offer their titles on the iPad
- Sites with Free Audiobooks - prefer listening to literature? These sites audiobooks that will make your trip educational and fun.
4. Share the Music: Car Stereo Adapters
The iPod solved arguments about whose music everyone would listen to since it allowed each person to enjoy their own. But what do you do if want you to listen to music but don't want every member of the family plugged into their own world? Car stereo adapters are the solution. Some work through a tape deck and cable, others over FM, but all allow you to alternate whose music is played in the car.
- The Best FM Adapters - wireless adapters are great, especially the New Potato TuneLink, which lets anyone with a Bluetooth-enabled device play to the car stereo
- Using FM Adapters - tips and tricks
- Getting The Best Sound from Cassette Adapters - if you choose a cassette adapter, read these tips on getting good sound.
Between gas, food, tolls, and hotels, roadtrips can be expensive. But they can be a bit cheaper if you use one of these gas price finder apps. They use the iPhone's built-in GPS (and since the iPhone is the only iOS device with true GPS, you'll need one to make best use of the apps) to locate nearby gas stations and compare their prices. Taking advantage of this information will add up quickly and make your trip a bit cheaper.
Besides needing gas, the other common car trip emergency is desperately needing to find a bathroom. Again, apps can help you with that. These apps not only help you find upcoming rest areas, they also tell you what's available off upcoming exists--like restaurants, hotels, and car repair shops--and help you determine which best meet your needs. And having a quick plan of action when any passenger is hungry or needs a bathroom surely makes a trip smoother.
7. Stay on Course with GPS
No one likes getting lost. It's especially bad if you're traveling with impatient kids (or adults!). You can avoid taking wrong turns if you get turn-by-turn directions from the map apps that run on the iOS. Whether you use the built-in Maps app or any of the third-party GPS tools, if you're traveling somewhere you haven't been before, take a GPS app along with you.
Since not everyone along for the ride will have an iPhone, that means they won't be able to get online when they want, which may lead to some crankiness. But as long as one person has an iPhone, and Personal Hotspot configured, crankiness need not rear its ugly head. Personal Hotspot allows the iPhone user to share their wireless Internet connection with any nearby device via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Just make sure to add it to your account (US$20/month) and everyone in the car will be able to get online whenever they want.
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