top 5 travel apps for toddlers (fee & free)

Top 5 Toddler AppsAny parent knows that traveling with a toddler can be a challenge. We have flown and drove across the country with our 16 month old and apps were a go-to solution for keeping her engaged (and contained). I am also going to include the annoying factor. Let’s face it, most apps for kids are incredibly annoying when it comes to the songs and sounds. I have found a few that are fantastic, but there is definitely a market opportunity for cool apps for kids.

My top 5 apps for free and for a fee:




Fisher Price ShapesFree:
 Fisher Price Shapes and Colors:

This has two different settings and has transitioned from about 12 months to 16 months well. The second stage provides a key board and shapes and my daughter loves how the app uses responsive design when she tilts it from side to side the characters follow her movement. The design of the app is well done and there are not any distracting ads which get in the way of game play. 

Annoying Factor: 4 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying)
The songs on this are typical Fisher Price, it does keep my daughter engaged but I find the music rather irritating at times.


Fisher Price AnimalsFree: Fisher Price Animal Sounds:

A cute app with engaging music and very intuitive movement for a toddler. My daughter loves the songs that play at the end of each animal cycle. The only drawback is that there are only two cycles of animals (she would love it if there were more animals to see). 

Annoying Factor: 3 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying)
The background music isn’t too bad on this option but the songs are still pretty typical Fisher Price. Watch out – it can be pretty catchy – I find myself humming this one from time to time.


Peekaboo BarnFor a Fee:
 Peek-a-boo Barn:

By far this is one of my favorite apps for Maggie. They do have a lite version for free to try before you buy. Although it is worth the spend – so go for the paid version of this app. It provides updates throughout the year for each season and has a beautifully designed interface with a playful soundtrack. Perhaps the best part about this app is that they use kids as the voice over to identify the animals. It is super cute and really well done for game play for a toddler. 

Annoying Factor: 1 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying)
If all apps were as awesome as this one – I would be in heaven. The apps is made by Night and Day Studios and they have some other releases as well and range from $2-3 dollars per app.


Elmo CallsFor a Fee: Elmo Calls:

This app activates your camera phone to provide a facetime calling experience with Elmo and your child. It offers an easy to use interface but has some elements that make it more for an older toddler. When you select a button to have Elmo call, you have to press a small-ish green button to answer, if your child is used to pressing anywhere on the screen for a response, they can get frustrated with this limited touch feature. In addition, not all of the calls utilize video and the “voice” only calls are quickly ended. The updates provide new videos and you can also purchase additional characters to call. This app keeps my daughter engaged around 5-10 minutes usually and she enjoys watching herself and Elmo. 

Annoying Factor: 3 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying)
It’s the voice of Elmo – need I say more?

Fruit NinjaFor a Fee: Fruit Ninja:

Although created originally for adults, who doesn’t like to play this app. The key for toddlers is to select the “Zen Mode” and for a minute and 30 seconds, watch them slice and dice fruit to their heart’s content. You can download a free version, however the ads and limited features make the investment in the full version worth the spend. 

Annoying Factor: 1 (out of a 1-5 scale – 1 is pretty perfect and 5 is pretty annoying)
It’s one of the top rated apps overall for a reason. This is fun to play, easy to listen to and enjoyable to watch.


up up photo tips: app edition

Last year before traveling to Spain I decided to upgrade my iphone 3GS to the iphone 4 for the sole purpose of the camera. I found the best souvenir I can have is to document my memories. The addition of some great photo apps allowed for me to travel light: carrying my iphone and an SLR (as apposed to my normal packing of a digital camera, cellphone, SLR, holga and camcorder). Continue reading…


an app for appetites

Yelp offers user generated reviews (and although it extends beyond restaurants) it provides an invaluable resource for finding the great local joint while on vacation. You can look up restaurants based on price point, location and genre. So far, some of my greatest foodie finds have been through this app. The key to ensuring a quality selection is to have at least a 3.5 – 4 star rating with more than 10 reviews (the more reviews the better) and make sure to check out the quick tips for go to menu items. Continue reading…