Use Apps to Manage Festivals and Crowds

Use apps on your smartphone to make the most of summer festival experiences. -


Ahhh… The sights and smells and sounds of summer are right around the corner. And you know what? We’re totally ready for it.

When I say we’re ready, I mean emotionally. As the girls get older, the schedule during the school year gets more hectic. By this time each year, we’re ready for a much needed reprieve from the constant shuttling from one place to another.

So it’s only natural that we shift gears and schedule all kinds of activities as a family. We travel, play at gaming conventions, visit the local minor-league ball park, cheer on the Cubs, watch the latest blockbuster movie, attend concerts and check out a variety of fairs, events and festivals. Now that I think of it, we maintain a pretty busy schedule, but we do it on our own terms at our own pace.

As difficult as it is, I’m trying my best not to be a helicopter mom. I worry about their safety and well-being, but fully recognize the need to let them find their own way. Over the past few years, we have slowly let loose of the reins and let Madison and Kennedy venture off at events such as Origins Game Fair and Gen Con.

Our only requirement is that they stay together.

Scratch that. We have two requirements. The first is that they stay together and the second is that they be accessible via phone. Not only does it allow me to find them on my iPhone 7 Plus and stay in contact with them, but it also gives them a variety of tools to make the experience better.

It gets crowded at Gen Con, but they're a friendly bunch. - #GenCon

Aside from using a high-quality network to search for Pokemon in new locations, there are many more functions on their iPhones that simplify and improve the festival experience. The number of people at an event varies, but even in the smallest of venues it is often difficult to corral a group of friends. In a large crowd? Ugh. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, smartphones continue to be an integral part of traveling as nearly four in five consumers use one to assist their travels in some way. That’s good news because it sure makes it easier to locate and communicate with everyone. We use Find My Friends, a free Apple app, to find out where someone is on a map. I may or may not have on occasion loaded the map simply to make sure the girls are on their way to a specified meeting point. Another app, GroupMe, allows users to communicate via group message across device types. While my immediate family and many friends all carry iPhones, we do need to make sure we can adequately communicate with those who have decided to go with a non-Apple device. GroupMe also works on computers and tablets. At large events such as Gen Con, having multiple options to connect is kind of a big deal. If you find yourself in a maze of tents at a festival, use BC Tent Finder app to locate yours. We’ve all been there and the sea of pop-ups all start to look the same after a while.

Wondering what to pack for summer festivals? We have ideas! -

Let’s be honest and admit that getting friends and family together for an event doesn’t just happen. There is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into getting ready. Selecting restaurants, finding parking, coordinating hotels and more are all activities that make the event process run even smoother. For those who like planning via app, Wunderlist and Packing Pro offer festival participants the ability to organize to-do lists, collaborate on projects, set due dates with reminders, figure out what to pack and more.

Speaking of parking, did you know you can use your iPhone to mark the location of where you parked?! It takes a couple of steps in the settings to enable it, but once set up, your vehicle’s location shows up in the Map app.

Not all hotels are equal. Some... SO far from it. -

If you’re trying to find non-hotel options for lodging, use the Airbnb app to do your searches right from your phone. After all, sometimes the hotel we booked gives us the creeps. Last year we found ourselves in a late night pinch with few options on what we could do to get out of that reservation. Had we checked out the Airbnb app, we might have found a solution that didn’t have us wanting to shower and wash everything we owned after we left the motel.

We aren't made of money, you know?! -

And finally, let’s talk about money. Between sharing hotel rooms, carpooling, splitting checks at restaurants and the occasional trip for refreshments, exchanging cash isn’t always the best option. (Seriously, do you even carry cash any more?) Your phone is the gateway to easily transferring funds between friends thanks to apps such as Venmo and Google Wallet. If you hope to use these applications, consider adding it into the pre-event planning process so everyone can safely read up on the apps, their security levels and what needs to be done to transfer funds. It’s always better to iron out money concerns in advance because nobody wants to put their friends on the spot when they’re trying to enjoy a festival or event.

Festivals can be crazy, chaotic and sometimes stressful. Find ways to use your smart phone and reliable cellular service to help you relax and make the festival a more enjoyable experience.

What do you find most difficult about attending events and festivals with a group?

20 thoughts on “Use Apps to Manage Festivals and Crowds

  1. I think that you hit the nail right on the head! I HAVE to have them stay close to me AND have a phone where I can reach them JUST in case! I love every app you suggest here and I will be downloading a few of them for our next event!

  2. Having reliable cell service is definitely the key to keeping in close contact these days. Thank goodness there are so many apps available to make it easy, as I have lost friends at an outdoor event on more than one occasion.

  3. That is a great way to make life easier. I would have never even thought to use apps for these situations! Definitely would cut down on a lot of hassles.

  4. reminds me of the million dollars in vegas . we use apps for everything too. these sound great.

  5. I don’t have an iPhone. I have an android phone, but I haven’t tried any of these apps (or similar apps) on my phone. I love how organized and prepared you are. Which app would you say is your favorite?

  6. A great list of apps for being on the go and traveling. We love the airbnb one and just used it for our Boston trip. Next is an overseas adventure so it will come in super handy. Will check out the others you mentioned as well. Thanks for the great post.

  7. This is a great post & sounds like you all live a pretty fun lifestyle! I really like the Find the Friends app. I just may download that one on all of our phones…thanks!

  8. This is so unique. It’s amazing how fast technology is just going. It’s always finding a new way to better itself!

  9. Thanks for the recommendations. The ability to receive updated information and tips while traveling is a lifesaver! It’s always nice to have some useful apps as a backup in case anything goes wrong.

  10. One of the big problems I run into is occasionally not getting service in large event centers, yet the wifi will be so overloaded that it’s virtually unusable.

    But I love finding apps for the places and events I’m at. For example when we visited Legoland California, it would show me walking directions to each attraction as well as how long the wait was. And popped up a coupon that we were able to use at the end of the day for supper at the buffet at the Legoland Hotel (that we actually weren’t staying at due to keeping costs low).

  11. It almost sounds like those man overboard devices they use on boats. You could use those, even if your child forgets to turn on their phone.

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