Family-friendly trip apps

By: Ian Moyle


‘Smart’ technology can play an integral role while travelling around Australia.

Laptop -on -a -bench -at -the -beach

Some of these apps cost money to buy but there are thousands of free ones as well. An added advantage is that they are regularly updated, ensuring that the latest information is always at your fingertips. With a little pre-planning, many can even be used when there’s no mobile reception available.

There really is no limit to what these marvellous machines and the apps that run on them can do. Even the most technologically ignorant of us can use our smartphone or tablet to; plan our holiday, help us find our way, make the drive there more pleasant, learn about our country and, yes, even occupy ourselves when we have some downtime!

As you’ve probably already deduced, I’m a particularly ‘Appy' camper; that is, I reckon apps have an important role to play when travelling around our beautiful country.

Check out my suggestions below which will hopefully help create ‘Appy' camping experiences for you, too.

FUEL MAP AUSTRALIA

Fuel -Map -app

(iOS & Android - free)

This is a nifty little app from the people at WikiCamps. Fuel Map Australia is a crowd-sourced database of petrol stations and fuel prices across the country. App users update information and there’s a handy fuel log that can track your fuel purchases and economy.

MY WHEELS AUSTRALIA

My -Wheels -Australia

(iOS & Android - free)

An app developed by Crime Stoppers SA that allows you to add details about your car, caravan, boat or bike; in fact anything that has a registration or serial number! If anything is stolen or damaged, all the information you need to notify the police or your insurer is at your fingertips. You can even file a police report from the app! No need to cart a paper file around the country containing all this information.

WIKICAMPS AUSTRALIA

Wiki Camps -app

(iOS & Android - $7.99)

This crowd-sourced database is an absolute must! It provides detailed information about campgrounds, caravan parks, hostels, day stops, points of interest, dump points and information centres. Its beauty lies in the fact that sites can be added, modified and shared by WikiCamps users, making it both useful and up-to-date!

Use the camping checklist and the trip planner for your next road trip; it can even be used offline! WikiCamps Australia has a one-time purchase cost, unlike competitor Camps Australia Wide (iOS & Android ­– $7.99) that requires in-app subscriptions to receive new and updated information.

WAZE

(iOS & Android - free)

Google’s Waze is the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Drive with Waze open to contribute real-time traffic information and receive reported alerts including accidents, hazards, mobile speed camera locations and road closures.

It’s particularly useful for longer drives in built-up areas that have other cars using Waze. Learn the voice commands to give instructions to the app or get a passenger to make updates as required; using a mobile phone while driving is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal!

ZINIO FOR LIBRARIES

(iOS & Android - free)

Have a few minutes to kill? Borrow a magazine from your local library using Zinio for Libraries, rather than buy one or read an old one you’ve seen before. Best read on an iPad or tablet because of their size and resolution. Make sure you delete magazines from your collection after you’ve read them and remove them from the app because of their large file size.

BEACHSAFE

Beachsafe -app

(iOS & Android - free)

Find the nearest beach in seconds and check the weather, surf conditions, hazards and nearby facilities. This is an incredibly useful little app produced by Surf Life Saving Australia.

WiFi MAP

Wi Fi -Map -app

(iOS & Android - free)

The world’s largest registry of Wi-Fi hotspots and the passwords required to access them. You’ll still need to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot once you’re within range. An annoying feature is the ads that regularly pop up.

WOLFRAM SUN EXPOSURE

Sun -Exposure -app

(iOS - $0.99)

It’s not free but this app will calculate how long you can stay in the sun without burning based on your skin type, location, time and the SPF of your sunscreen. A few weather-related features add to its usefulness.

SURFACE LEVEL

Surface -level -app

(iOS - free) or Bubble Level (Android - free)

It’s a simple task that creates all sorts of problems if you can’t get it right. Use Surface or Bubble Level to check the level of your caravan/camper. One less piece of equipment you need to pack! Surface Level is part of iMetal Box ($1.99), which has eight handy tools; flashlight, spirit level, surface level, ruler, protractor, battery info, stopwatch and a handy conversion tool.

GEOCACHING

(iOS & Android - free or $9.99/month or

$46.99/year for premium)

The world’s largest treasure hunting community with millions of cleverly hidden containers called geocaches to be found. Find the geocache using the app, sign the logbook, replace the geocache and log your find in the app.

Seriously addicted geocachers will probably want to upgrade to premium so they can access

additional geocache types, conduct advanced searches and create lists and access offroad maps to use the app offline.

60 GREAT SHORT WALKS TASMANIA

60-Great -Short -Walks -app

(iOS - free)

This app offers everything you need to know before you go for a walk in the Apple Isle; from a gentle stroll, to a physical challenge, a seaside ramble or a long day’s outing. The walks are located throughout Tasmania and can generally be accessed from major roads and include a range of environments.

LIVETREKKER

Livetrekker -app

(iOS & Android - free)

We all like the idea of keeping a journal while we’re travelling. LiveTrekker allows you to build a digital memory of your journeys, with your smartphone or tablet. Simply start your trek (the GPS will record your movements) and add photos, video and comments (spoken and written) along the way (and later), before publishing your journey. Can be kept private or shared with friends via Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS.

YELP

Yelp -app

(iOS & Android - free)

It’s the end of a long day’s driving and you need to find a hardware store, supermarket, the best pub meal or a great coffee shop. Rather than take pot luck, open Yelp and search for the best options. Read reviews, make a choice and write your own review afterwards.

JIGSAW PUZZLES REAL

Jigsaw -Puzzles -Real -app

(iOS & Android - free)

Jigsaws and camping don’t really mix; storing and using them in the confines of a caravan is no easy matter. But there’s a solution! Jigsaw Puzzles Real Free has 1800 free images and you can even create jigsaws from your own photos. Create jigsaws with as few as nine pieces for the kids, up to 1000 pieces for the experts. Remove the ads for $4.49.

CUT THE ROPE

(iOS & Android - numerous free and cheap versions)

Want to keep your children gainfully occupied while you have your own downtime but don’t want them playing violent or inane games? Cut the Rope is an oldie but a goodie; your child will love helping Om Nom (the little monster) find candy, all the while collecting gold stars, hidden prizes and unlocking new levels in this addictively fun, physics-based game! You might even become one of the 960 million players worldwide who love this award-winning game. But don’t get conned by the in-app purchases!

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #568. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!