About to have a family vacation but was scared with packing? Well, you won’t need to bring paper maps, dog ear-shaped packing lists, or old-fashioned Scrabble sets. Nowadays, the web can streamline everything from paying for a trip, deciding where to stay to find something to do on a rainy day. And any family member old enough to use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop can do at least some operations.
Here are ten sections of the holiday quiz that the Internet can help you solve.
1. Discover where to go
Children as well as adults can browse travel destination sites like National Geographic Travel to discover where in the world they want to spend their next vacation with their family.
Videos of travel destinations are widely available on YouTube. These exploratory activities are also educational, introducing children to some interesting lessons in geography, social studies and history.
Plan a few hours per week when everyone in the family can watch and share. Children can study travel destinations independently in their spare time, reporting back to their families about the holiday spots they are most interested in. But make it clear to your child that any actual trip must fit into the family’s pocketbook. Most children can learn to understand words like, “Not this year for that particular trip, but I hope at some point we can get there.”
2. Reservations in advance
Older adults and children can use travel planning sites like Expedia and Travelocity — or the site’s mobile apps for Android or iOS — to research prices and find vacation destinations.
What will it be? London? Cape Cod? Aspen? Tokyo? Those are some of the places expedia has introduced through its mobile app.
Later, adults can use the same tools to book hotel rooms and book flights quickly.
3. Funding for the trip
A personal finance app like Intuit’s Mint (available for Android or iOS) or SmartyPig (also available in android and iOS versions) can help you save a lot of money in advance on goals like family vacations. By looking at what you spend each day, you can see where to reduce unnecessary expenses.
Can you have a cup of coffee at home every morning instead of stopping at the café for coffee? Or reduce your electricity bills by withdrawing chargers when they’re not in use? The small expenses will add up!
4, Figure out what to pack
Of course, what to pack depends on where you’re going. Specialized travel sites offer some great tips on what you should bring with you if you’re preparing for a excursion, such as a beach vacation.
Whatever your vacation destination, you can use the interactive travel list at Independent Traveler to create personalized, printable lists for everyone in the family. Do you like to use the mobile app? Try using Packing List (for Android) or Pro Packaging (for iOS).
5. Find nearby attractions
What will you do when you get there? Take a rollercoaster ride at the amusement park? Rafting into the river? Skiing? Take a walk through fascinating museums and historical sites?
Apps like TouristEye (for Android or iOS) and Field Trip (similar for Android or iOS) can help you figure out these long before you leave — or if you want to, when you’re already on the road.
6. Decide where to eat
There are plenty of resources online to find good restaurants anywhere. To get reviews from real customers at the restaurant, go to Yelp for example.
Expert opinions can be found on LocalEats. And you can book quickly and easily on OpenTable.
7. Find out how to travel by bus, subway or train
Are you on your way to a major U.S. city? If so, Apple’s Citymapper app for Android and iOS can help you identify the best ways to navigate local terrain by bus, subway, or train.
8. Find Good Driving Guide
On the other hand, if you bring your car or rent a car when you arrive, Google Maps can provide the best route to drive from any point A to any point B. This is simpler than the hotel concierge and probably a lot more accurate than a random guy you asked on. street.
9. Catch the weather forecast
Checking the local weather at your vacation destination can be very enjoyable (and practical) even if you’re still at home. You can get both long and short-range weather forecasts from The Weather Channel (available as apps for Android and iOS) or from Accuweather (similarly available for Android or iOS).
Once you arrive, you can check the hour-by-hour forecast for any upcoming weather, so you’ll know whether to bring a jacket or raincoat the next time you venture outdoors.
10. Play online games on rainy days
Bad weather can disrupt the holiday by making some planned activities impossible. Of course, your child may have their favorite games that they can play on their phone; and adults may want to read e-books on their Kindles, Nooks, or tablets. However, to strengthen family unity, why not try some online versions of traditional board and card games?
Pogo.com offers popular traditional multiplayer games such as Scrabble, Risk, Monopoly and Hearts. (The site also includes some casino games that you may want to steer your kids away from.)
Source: Pixabay.com, Pexels.com, Apple.