Best Family Travel Electronic Gadgets

February 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to be entertained, listen to music, and read, you had to pack your handheld video game, Walkman, and a book. Now, you can take just a smartphone or tablet. But if you’re traveling with family, they may get annoyed that they can’t share in the fun.

9 inch digital screen portable headrest dvd playerOr sometimes you need something to do in the hotel room at night, rather than watch reruns on TV for hours. Here are six family travel gadgets to consider getting for your next trip.

  1. Portable DVD player. Better yet, an in-dash DVD player. When my kids were young, my wife and I loved to go for long drives, but we didn’t want the kids to be bored. Luckily we had a DVD player installed in our car. We would stick the headphones on the kids, pop in a movie, and have a nice conversation while the kids watched TV in the back. We also took annual 1,000 mile drives from Indiana to Florida, and the DVD player was a life saver. If you can’t get a DVD player installed in your car, you can get a portable DVD player with headphone jacks to do the same thing.
  2. Tablet computer. We won’t debate the whole iPad versus Galaxy versus Kindle Fire issue here, suffice to say you need one. You can watch movies, play games, visit websites, check maps, keep up with your social networks, edit photos, stream music, and if there’s still time, read a book. If you already have your own tablet and don’t feel like sharing with the kids, consider an inexpensive Kindle Fire for the backseat.
  3. An extra smartphone or iPod Touch. If you have older kids, but they don’t have a smartphone, consider getting either a deactivated smartphone or an iPod Touch that will still work on wifi. You can download games and a movie or two that will play without a data signal, but then your kids can send photos and texts only when they’re on wifi.
  4. Personal wifi hotspot. Of course, going without wifi for a few days can be a problem for everyone. If you need to get online, but are worried about data overages, consider a personal wifi hotspot as a 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, so put the hotspot right near the window.)
  5. Portable battery pack. I’ve purchased a few rechargeable batteries over the last few years, and they’re a life saver. Whether we spend all day in a theme park, or spend several hours in a car and we’re out of USB charger space, the battery usually has enough juice to charge a few phones. I bought a 20,000mAh battery, and it will charge all four of my family’s phones once. Even a little 5,000mAh battery, about the size of my thumb, holds 1.5 iPhone charges, and it fits in my pocket.
  6. Laptop computer. As great as a tablet or phone can be, you sometimes still need to get work done, send emails, or even just upload and edit photos at the end of the day. Having your laptop handy makes that so much easier. Plus you’re not chewing up all your data uploading your photos and videos. And if your kids have tied up the DVD player or tablet, you can stream your own movies, watch a DVD, surf the web, and play games.

What other electronic gadgets do you travel with on your family trips? Give me some ideas, because I’ve got another trip coming up! Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Catecardvd (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)


Erik Deckers is a travel writer, as well as a content marketer and book author. He is the co-author of Branding Yourself, No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine. Erik has been blogging since 1997, and has been a newspaper humor columnist for over 20 years

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