Big Kids: 7-9 • Tweens: 10-12 • Teens: 13-17

8 Travel Gadgets for Families

See recent posts by Maxwell Barna

Family vacations are exciting, but getting to your destination can get hectic and even boring. Long flights, miles upon miles of deserted highway, lost bags, lost phones, layovers, delays and cancellations — there’s always something to toss a monkey wrench into your vacation’s gears. To combat your travel tribulations, or simply make your trips more fun, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite gadgets. (Hint: They also make great gifts!):

1. Mophie Powerstation Reserve Micro

Travelers and non-travelers alike can agree that one of the biggest inconveniences is getting stuck on the road with a dead phone. Luckily, the Powerstation Reserve Micro, from Mophie, provides a convenient and compact lifeline that will keep your phone’s lights on when you forget to bring a charger. And with integrated charging cables for a variety of applications, you’ll have all the juice you need, hanging right from your key ring.

Approximate Price: $39.95

2. Trakdot Luggage Tracker

According to Conde Nast Traveler, more than 26 million checked bags go missing every year. With the Trakdot Luggage Tracker, your bag won’t be one of them. The Trakdot Luggage tracker uses GPS technology to track your valuables when traveling by land or air. The Trakdot knows when your luggage is in transit, and goes to “sleep” while the plane is in flight. Upon your luggage’s arrival at its final destination, the Trakdot “wakes up” and will alert you of its status via text message or e-mail. You’ll also be able to see everywhere the bag has been. Its tracking capabilities are global, and works anywhere your mobile phone does.

Approximate Price: $59.99

3. SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone

One of the most important pieces of basic safety equipment you’ll ever own, the SpareOne Plus Emergency Phone is essential for everyone from frequent fliers to mountain climbers. This ultra-compact and lightweight emergency phone slips conveniently into any carry-on bag, purse, brief case and backpack, and although just two AA batteries power it, it will hold a charge for 15 years. It provides a user with up to 10 hours of talk time, and comes complete with an LED TorchLight, a panic alarm and an SOS emergency button, which utilizes the device’s GPS-enabled Location & Alert Services (includes a fee). The SpareOne’s carrying bag is waterproof, and the phone itself was designed to function in extreme weather conditions, in temperatures from -22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Approximate Price: $79.99

4. Pebble SmartWatch Bluetooth-Enabled Wrist Watch

Jostling through a busy airport or a congested hotel lobby while trying to fumble for your phone can often result in disaster. The Bluetooth-enabled Pebble Smartwatch makes managing your life’s most important e-mails, texts, calendar events and music convenient and discrete. The Pebble connects wirelessly to any Bluetooth-enabled device, and gives you e-mail, text and phone notifications, along with music control, alarms, fitness monitors, sports scores, stock market updates, a calculator and hundreds of other convenient downloadable apps to help keep you connected while your phone stays safely and securely in your pocket. The Pebble Smartwatch comes in a variety of styles and colors. It also offers users literally hundreds of downloadable watch faces, making your Pebble Watch customizable to your life.

Approximate Price: $150

5. Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite utilizes new display technology, with higher contrast and better reflectivity, to provide readers with the most authentic literary experience possible. Amazon’s Kindle library includes thousands of free titles to choose from, along with all of today’s best-selling page-turners, putting the world’s library at your fingertips — something travelers both young and old will appreciate. And the e-reader’s built-in Wi-Fi capability, along with its insanely long battery life (up to eight weeks on one charge!) means you’ll never be without a fresh new book.

Approximate Price: $139

6. Dropcam

You lock the doors and windows, shut off the lights and batten down the hatches as best you can, but there are dozens of “what-if” scenarios that always find ways to play out in your head — at least, until you find Dropcam. With a 107-degree field of view, 4x zoom, night vision, two-way talk capabilities and crystal clear 720p HD, this mobile, cloud-based security camera will provide your traveling family with the peace of mind you’ve always wanted. Dropcam offers motion-sensing capabilities, and will send Intelligent Alerts via e-mail or text message directly to your smart phone in the case of an event. You can also access the camera’s live stream anytime and anywhere, via computer, smart phone or other capable device. And because all of your footage is stored safely and securely on Dropcam’s cloud, you’ll never have to worry about freeing up hard drive space.
Approximate Price: $139

7. hipKey

An innovative piece of technology that’s changing the way we stay in touch with our belongings, hipKey is an essential piece of any traveler’s inventory. Place it in your luggage, in a purse, or even on your children, and at the push of a button, hipKey will help find what you’re looking for. The device is useful from as far as 164 feet away, and emits a loud 90-decible alarm, which can be activated manually by the push of a button (via smartphone app), or automatically by vibration indicators and motion sensors. So if you’ve ever worried about leaving your bag unattended at a restaurant, worry not — if your belongings are touched or moved in anyway, hipKey will know. You can also create a range, where as soon as the hipKey breaches it, it sounds the alarm.

Approximate Price: $89.99

8. Joby GorillaPod Tripod

Ideal for photographers on the go, GorillaPod tripods allow you to get everyone in that family shot (without a selfie arm), or just hold your camera still for those low-light shots. The tripods are available in several varieties, so whether you’re toting a point-and-shoot or a DSLR, you can find one to support its weight. GorillaPods differ from standard tripods in that the arms are flexible and can be wrapped around objects like a tree or pole, so you don’t have to scramble to find a horizontal surface. (Smartphone photographers, check out the GorillaMobile version.)

Approximate Price: $19.95 for original

More from Family Vacation Critic
13 Free Travel Apps for Families
Family Packing List
7 Must-Have Travel Essentials for Families

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

×