Christmas travel with kids? There's an app for that

Christmas holiday travel, especially with kids, can be overwhelming but smart-phone apps can smooth the experience. Finding airport food or the closest kid-friendly restaurant or play area just got way easier.

New smart-phone apps can help steer parents slogging through airports with kids in tow during the holidays. Here, kids flopped on the floor while waiting for a flight at Logan International Airport in Boston in October.

Crowded airports and delayed flights are unavoidable hallmarks of holiday travel, but a new app aims to make the experience more navigable.

TravelNerd is designed to alleviate the stumbling blocks that can arise during air travel, such as finding amenities, or figuring out the most cost-effective form of transportation to and from the airport.

"We try to encompass the entire airport experience," said Alice Jao, vice president of travel media for San-Francisco-based company NerdWallet, which developed the app.

During the holiday rush, transportation to and from the airport and finding parking can be a hassle and expensive.

"You can spend a fair amount of money unconsciously paying for parking or transportation when you're not aware of what other lower cost options you might have," Ms. Jao explained.

To help consumers find the most suitable option, the app provides a run-down of ground transportation options available, including shuttles, taxis, and public transit, along with their estimated cost and travel time to destination points within a city.

"If you're not in a rush and you're going for a vacation you might just want the cheapest option," Jao added.

The app also allows users to book shuttles and taxis online where possible.

For drivers, there is a detailed list of parking venues nearby along with price, contact information, and other details such as whether the lot is open 24-hours and has valet service.

"There are lots of parking lots available, especially ones away from the airport that are a lot cheaper and just a mile or two from the airport," Jao said.

During the holiday season it is important to be well-prepared when traveling with children. The app can help families find nurseries, child-friendly restaurants, and kid-play areas.

And for users looking for a last-minute gift there is a list of shops at the terminal.

"We typically don't spend a lot of shopping time in the airports," she said. "But the trends are worldwide that more and more people are shopping within the airport – particularly for the holidays and for last minute gifts."

More than 50 major airports around the globe are included in the app, which is available worldwide in English for the iPhone and iPad. The company also plans to release an Android app.

A similar app called GateGuru is available for both iPhone and Android. It allows users to track flight departures and provides details and ratings on amenities such as eateries, shops, and services. 

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