As travelers, we all depend on technology and electronic gadgets to plan a successful trip thee days. Whether it be using a computer to book a flight or relying on our phones to navigate a new city, technology plays an essential role in how we travel. Although we love how it simplifies modern-day travel, it can be hard to keep track of what the best gadgets are to ease our next journey.
Thirty years ago, if we wanted to be entertained on a trip, listen to music, and read, we needed to pack a handheld video game, a Walkman tape player, and a book. Now, all we need is an iPhone or Android and you’ve got it all. But if you’re traveling with kids or adult family members, you may need some additional gadgets to keep everyone happy.
As the pros of travel, we made a list of all the gadgets you’ll need to help long flights feel shorter, road trips feel lighter, and overall make your next family vacation go as smoothly as can be.
Here are five family travel gadgets to consider getting for your next trip.
- Kindle Fires. We normally wouldn’t debate the iPad versus Galaxy versus Kindle Fire issue here. (iPads all the way!) But iPads are expensive, and while the parents may have one that they share, you don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars for a low-end iPad for each child. Not when you can get a 7″ Kindle Fire for $50. You can even spend a little more and get one with 32GB of storage. Download videos for the kids to watch on Netflix or Hulu, or let them watch educational videos on YouTube or the PBS Kids website via wifi.
- Wifi hotspot. Rather than going without wifi for an entire 3-day car trip or letting your kids take over your phone just to watch YouTube, get a portable hotspot that gives you a wifi signal as long as you’re in range of cell phone towers. It’s a great way to keep everyone in the car online without running the family’s data plan over its limit before you ever leave the driveway. They’re especially great for long drives or when you stay in a hotel that charges for wifi. Coverage may “mysteriously” be spotty inside the hotel room as it is for most cell phones, so put the hotspot right near the window. Just make sure you have unlimited data on it. (You should also get unlimited data on your mobile phones as well.)
- Travel power strip: You can get power strips that have USB charging ports in them, as well as a few regular 3-prong plug outlets. If you’re traveling as a family, everyone will no doubt need to recharge their devices each night. Rather than fighting over the only two plugs in the entire hotel room, plug in the power strip, and everyone can charge their device. You can also find a car power inverter that plugs into your car lighter jack and gives you a few USB and 3-prong outlets.
- Portable battery bank. If you ever spend all day in a theme park or walking around the city, a battery bank usually has enough juice to charge a few phones throughout the day. Get a 20,000mAh battery to charge four phones once. Even a little 5,000mAh battery, about the size of a roll of quarters, holds 1.5 iPhone charges, and it fits in your pocket.
- Laptop computer. As great as a tablet can be, you sometimes need to get work done, send emails, or just upload and edit photos at the end of each day. A laptop makes that so much easier. Plus it saves you from chewing up all your data by uploading photos and videos from your phone. Just put them on the laptop and then upload when you find some wifi. You can also download a lot more videos to watch than you can on a tablet, or watch different streaming websites.
What are your go-to family travel electronic gadgets? Do you have a favorite device you take on every vacation or weekend car trip? What’s a device you wish you had? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.