Digital distractions for your kids

TRACEY SPICER
Last updated 13:21 13/03/2014
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ARE WE THERE YET: Now all we need is an app that silences kids during long car trips.

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SANITY BREAK: Use WhatsApp to send messages, via Wi-Fi, to family and friends while you're away.

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It's a common question: Is there an app to make kids less annoying on holidays?

Well, I'm glad you asked!

Because there's not just one - there are hundreds.

And most only cost a couple of bucks. (Though I'm not suggesting we turn them into zombies, with excessive screen time).

Educational apps abound. And the best is Bound Round, at $2.99. This is an interactive travel guide with fun, fact-based games for each destination.

There's a journal, where kids can share photos with their friends.

(Hopefully not of their bottoms, which is what our nine-year-old son is wont to do.)

Remember playing iSpy on those long driving trips? And wanting to poke out your eyes after the 25th "something beginning with t" ...?

Well guess what? There's an app for that, and more.

Family Car Games features more than 100 memory, observation, and singing games.

(My children would boycott the latter because, apparently, their mother sounds like a wailing cat.)

There's also Road Trip Scavenger Hunt, where you accrue points for spotting certain vehicles, colours, or animals.

We played the paper version through Yellowstone National Park, during which seven-year-old, Grace, yelled, "Look, there's a bison! Its back is almost as hairy as Dad's".

Free apps include the card game Uno, the puzzle Unblock Me, and iStoryTime, which the kids can either read themselves or listen to the narration.

So, that sorts out the kids. But what about the parents, I hear you scream?

TripIt Travel Organiser is a free app that syncs with your email account and collates any document with reservation numbers on them.

Then it gives you directions, maps and weather forecasts.

Even though I'm a travel writer, I'm a bit of an idiot.

I really wish I knew about Packing Pro before going to Falls Creek last year, without my suitcase.

This app has a feature called Expert Help, where you type in trip details such as temperature, duration, and age of travellers, and get a comprehensive list of things to take.

The Best Baby Monitor is handy if you have a little one.

It uses your Apple iOS devices, combined with the hotel Wi-Fi, to turn your phones into a transmitter and receiver, so you can see and hear bubby even if you're outside.

JetLag Genie helps you alter your sleep patters before an overseas trip, using customised alarm clocks.

And Panorama lets you stitch up to 16 small photos into one big one, which you can save and print later.

To keep in touch with family and friends while away (only if you want to, of course!), download Skype, or use WhatsApp to send messages via Wi-Fi.

The award for the quirkiest app goes to Sunscreen, which uses your GPS signal to record the UV rating, then sets a timer to tell you when to slather up.

Now all we need is an Are We There Yet app, which includes a device to silence children during long car trips.

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Is that too much to ask?

How do you keep your kids distracted while travelling Share your tips in the comments.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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