Characters from  Netflix’s
Photo: Netflix

The holiday travel season is prime time for offline video viewing. And if you're among the millions of Americans who'll take that long-planned trip to grandma's this year, you might want to download movies, TV shows, and other content to entertain yourself along the way.

Whether it's binge-watching Netflix’s "Stranger Things" (image above) or a nonstop loop of Pixar favorites, the last thing you want to think about is the airplane's weak WiFi or the data overage fees associated with the kids streaming video in the backseat of your SUV.

Here’s a rundown of the streaming services that offer offline viewing.

Amazon Prime Video: This service, included with a Prime subscription, offers many downloadable titles, including feature films like "You Were Never Really Here" and the original series "Jack Ryan." And with the Prime Video app available in the Google Play store, it's easy to access that content on Android devices. Apple fans can find the iOS version in the company's App Store, and the Prime Video app comes installed in Amazon's Fire devices.


Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
 

More on Watching TV

Netflix: The king of streaming services allows users to download some movies and series to mobile devices through its Netflix app. These titles include original series such as "Ozark," "Queer Eye," and "The Great British Baking Show." Netflix updates its list of downloadable content every month. You'll see a download button on the details page if a particular show can be downloaded. Users will need to have the latest version of the app.

YouTube Red: Google's monthly subscription service allows you to watch videos without ads and gives you access to exclusive content, such as "Cobra Kai" and "Step Up: High Water," not to mention songs on Google's Play Music. And yes, subscribers have the option to download videos to view offline. Users in India and a host of other countries receive the service free, but U.S. consumers have to dole out $10 per month ($15 for the family plan).

When it comes to downloading video for offline viewing, though, not all of the streaming services have options to offer.

The throngs of "Game of Thrones" viewers are still out of luck because HBO Now requires an internet connection. The same goes for Crackle from Sony Pictures Entertainment, home to feature films and original shows such as "StartUp" and "Snatch."

Hulu said earlier this year that it will soon allow users to download content for offline viewing. To date, though, it has offered no details on exactly when that will happen and which shows will be available.

Other Options

iTunes, Google Play, VUDU, FandangoNOW, and Amazon Prime Video store: These non-subscription services offer a large selection of downloadable videos, including rentals, some free content, and videos you've purchased in the past. And once you're finished watching the content, it's automatically deleted. That allows you to load up on movies or TV shows for the outbound journey, then easily add all new content for the way home.

Showtime, Starz, and Epix: These premium channels allow subscribers to download videos from their libraries onto mobile devices via their corresponding apps. That means popular titles on Showtime ("Homeland" and "Billions") and Starz ("Outlander" and "Ash vs. Evil Dead") and movies from Epix's collection can fill time during your trip without burning through your data plan. The stand-alone subscription services from Showtime and Starz offer the same benefits for $11 and $9 per month, respectively.

Vimeo: Most of this content, including TED Talks and indie films, can be downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet. But content from the platform's TV partnerships with Lionsgate and Starz isn't available for offline viewing on the Vimeo app. So sorry, no watching "Mad Men" or "Weeds" without the Starz app.

Before you hit the road, remember to:

• Check the storage space on your device. Your media file won't download if there's not enough room—simple as that. So take a little time to get rid of the stuff you no longer need.

• Download the movies and shows while you're at home instead of relying on your cellular data service. On my high-speed WiFi connection, for example, it took about 7 minutes to download "Up in the Air" from Amazon Prime Video.

• Consider opting for standard-definition downloads. It takes up less than half a GB of data for a 2-hour movie. If you're viewing on a smartphone, the quality drop isn't too noticeable.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include information on current offerings.