Traveling as a family can be an exciting and bonding experience, but it can also be quite challenging. Planning and preparing for a trip takes a lot of time and effort, especially when you have to consider the needs and preferences of each family member. However, modern technology can make the process much smoother and more enjoyable. There are countless travel apps and tools available, but not all of them are suited for families.
As a family who has been slow travelling through Europe for almost 2 years now, we have tried and tested a multitude of apps and websites to help us plan and make the most of our trips. Over time, we have learned what works best for us and have narrowed down our favorites.
In this blog post, we’ll share some of our favorite apps and websites that we’ve found to be particularly useful for travelling through Europe as a family. From trip planning and booking to navigating new destinations, these tools have been essential for making our travels hassle-free and enjoyable. We hope our insights and recommendations will help other families who are considering traveling the world and want to make the most of their experiences. So pack your bags, grab your smartphones, and let’s get ready to hit the road!
Visa-Calculator is an essential tool for anyone traveling through Europe, especially for those who are planning to stay in the Schengen Area for an extended period of time. One of the key features of this website is its ability to calculate the amount of time you can stay in the Schengen Area based on the rules and regulations of the Schengen visa.
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished border controls between them, allowing for free movement of people within the area. However, there are restrictions on the amount of time non-European citizens can stay within the Schengen Area. It’s called the “90/180 Day Rule”. Basically, there are two parts to this rule. According to the website:
“Staying for 90 days— means that as soon as you enter any country within the Schengen area, can only stay for 90 days [in any of the countries in the zone].
Spending your 90 days within a 180-day period— The 90 days you are allowed to spend in the Schengen zone are eligible for a 180-day period. This period is commonly referred to as a ‘rolling timeframe’ because it’s constantly moving— each day you spend in Schengen advances your 180-day period. This period is counted backwards from your most recent entry or exit dates.”
We know it can be a bit complicated. This is where the Visa-Calculator.com app comes in handy.
By using the app, you can simply input your trip dates, passport information, and visa type, and the app will calculate the exact amount of time you’re allowed to stay in the Schengen Area. This is especially important for families who are traveling to Europe for an extended period and want to ensure they are compliant with visa regulations.
In addition to calculating the length of your stay, Visa-Calculator.com also provides valuable information on visa requirements, including the types of visas available, necessary documentation, and application procedures.
Booking.com is a leading travel app that offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit any budget and family size. With over 29 million listings in 228 countries, you’re sure to find a suitable place to stay, no matter where you’re headed.
One of the reasons why we love Booking.com is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy to search for and compare accommodation options. You can filter your search by location, budget, amenities, and other important criteria to find the perfect place to stay. Additionally, the app provides detailed descriptions and photos of each property, so you can get a clear picture of what you can expect.
Another reason why Booking.com is our favorite app is its commitment to providing a seamless and stress-free booking experience. The app offers instant confirmation for most bookings, so you can secure your accommodation quickly and easily. You can also view and manage your reservations directly from the app, and receive notifications and updates on your booking status.
Lastly, Booking.com provides a comprehensive reward program, which lets you earn rewards and discounts on future bookings. This is great for frequent travelers who are looking to save money on their accommodation.
Airbnb is one of the most popular places to find stays that connects travelers with hosts who offer unique and affordable homes and apartments for rent. With a wide range of properties available in over 100,000 cities worldwide, Airbnb is a great option for families looking for comfortable and convenient accommodations for their short-term or long-term travels.
One of the reasons why we love Airbnb is the ability to book entire homes or apartments, which can provide us with much more space and privacy than traditional hotel rooms. This is especially important for families traveling with children, who need room to play and relax. When we travel, we have certain “needs” that we need to check off when booking a place. One of which is that we want everyone to have their own space, so this Airbnb is really ideal for us. Additionally, many of the properties offer amenities such as kitchens, laundry facilities, and outdoor spaces, which can make a big difference in making you feel at home during your stay.
Aside from its excellent browsing experience, another reason why Airbnb is my favorite app is that it has very detailed property listings. Airbnb lets you view detailed descriptions, photos, and reviews from other guests to help you make an informed decision.
Another great thing about Airbnb is that a lot of hosts offer excellent service, especially for foreigners who are new to a place. For example, our host in Santorini, George, went above and beyond for us. Not only did he arrange for our transportation to and from the ferry, he also helped us order our groceries, book spectacular but affordable restaurants, and
Finally, Airbnb offers flexible booking options, including the ability to book for extended stays of 1-2 months. Not only that, sometimes you get bigger discounts for booking monthly stays. For example, booking a stay for 1 month might end up cheaper (per day) than booking the same property for 3 weeks. This makes it an ideal option for families like us, who are looking to live like locals during their travels and experience a new destination in a more authentic and immersive way.
Let me just say… we live and die by Google Maps.
Google Maps is one of the most essential apps for travelers. Not only does it provide you with accurate navigation, it also offers a wealth of information and features to help you get the most out of your travels.
One of the reasons why Google Maps is my favorite app for traveling is its ability to provide accurate and up-to-date information on traffic, transit, and walking directions. The app provides also information on transit options, including schedules and routes, so you can easily plan your trip and find the quickest and most convenient way to get from one place to another.
Google Maps also makes it so easy to find restaurants, cafes, shops, and other popular destinations in your area, and view detailed information, photos, and reviews from other travelers.
Lastly, Google Maps has several useful features for families traveling together. For example, you can easily save and share your favorite places and maps with others, so everyone can stay on the same page and stay organized. You can also download maps offline, which is especially useful when traveling in areas with limited or unreliable internet access.
When you don’t have Google Maps available, you have Apple Maps to save you. We love Apple Maps because it integrates so seamlessly with other Apple products, like our iPhones and iPads. The app also provides real-time traffic information, helping us to avoid congestion and get to our destinations on time.
Waze is a great app to use while driving, as it is GPS-based and uses real-time traffic information. One of the key features of Waze is its use of coordinates, which allows the app to provide turn-by-turn directions with pinpoint accuracy. This is especially useful for families traveling in unfamiliar territory, as it helps to ensure that we never get lost or miss an important turn.
Waze also uses real-time traffic information and user-generated reports to provide real-time updates on traffic conditions, accidents, and road closures, allowing us to quickly and easily re-route to avoid traffic and get to our destination faster.
Ferry Scanner is our favorite app to use in countries like Greece, where traveling between islands often requires taking a ferry. This app allows us to easily book and compare ferry routes, schedules, and prices, without having to spend hours researching and comparing different ferry companies. With Ferry Scanner, were able to quickly find the best ferry option for our travels, based on departure time, arrival time, and cost. The app also provides real-time updates on ferry schedules and availability, so that we always have the latest information when booking our ferry tickets.
With Google Translate, you can quickly and easily translate words, phrases, and sentences in over 100 languages, even when you are offline. This app is incredibly useful for families traveling in countries where they may not speak the local language, as it helps to bridge the language barrier and makes communication much easier.
Additionally, Google Translate offers a number of helpful features. For example, the app’s “camera translation” feature allows you to point your camera at a sign or menu and instantly see a translation, and the “conversation mode” feature also makes it easy to have a back-and-forth conversation with someone who speaks a different language.
This is the only tool here that is not an app or website. However, it’s just as useful. eSIM (embedded SIM) cards are becoming increasingly popular among travelers, since they offer several advantages over traditional physical SIM cards. Here are some reasons why eSIM cards are indispensable when traveling through different countries:
First off, convenience. eSIM cards eliminate the need to physically swap out SIM cards every time you cross into a new country, which makes it much more convenient for travelers, since they can simply purchase a new data plan for their eSIM card and avoid the hassle of finding a local store and purchasing a new physical SIM card.
Secondly, eSIM cards often offer lower prices and better data rates compared to physical SIM cards.
Next, eSIM cards allow you to have multiple numbers on a single device, which is useful for travelers who need separate numbers for personal and professional use, or for those who want to avoid international roaming charges by purchasing a local data plan in each country they visit.
Lastly, eSIM cards can be activated and configured quickly and easily, without the need for a physical SIM card. This makes it simple for travelers to purchase and activate a new data plan in a foreign country, and start using their phone for internet access right away.
An app we absolutely love is AirAlo, and Edith learned about it from TikTok. The app gives you access to eSIM cards from pretty much every country you can think of. You just simply type in the name of the country and it gives you detailed information on the providers, the duration of the eSIM’s active period, and how many GB it comes with. After you pay, all you have to do it download the eSIM, add it to your Cellular Data to activate it, and then you have access to a local data plan.
As a family who has been traveling the world for the past year and a half now, we have come to rely on a variety of apps to make our travels more efficient, convenient, and enjoyable. Whether we’re finding accommodations, navigating unfamiliar territories, or booking transportation, these apps have proven to be invaluable resources that have greatly enhanced our travel experiences. From Google Maps and Apple Maps to Booking.com, Airbnb, and Ferry Scanner, each of these apps has its own unique features and benefits that make them ideal for families traveling. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting out, we highly recommend giving these apps a try and seeing how they can make your travels easier and more enjoyable.