Travelling with children requires a little extra planning to make sure everything goes smoothly. To help keep the kids occupied and comfortable while on a trip, try these seven awesome gadgets.
Using a system such as Autonet Mobile router lets you have access to the internet while on the road or in a motel. By using the 3G network, Autonet Mobile creates a seamless network of connections that lets the kids have access to games, social media and streaming music, leaving you free from distractions to concentrate on the driving. You can even add an external antenna to increase the range up to 45 metres. Keep the kids involved with the journey by charging them with the task of finding the next rest stop, checking road conditions or reading up on the upcoming attractions.
SharePort Mobile Companion
Some hotels limit the number of wireless devices allowed to connect to the internet. Other places may have a charge per device – which can quickly add up. With laptops, tablets and cell phones for family members, choosing who can connect can be difficult and lead to an unpleasant evening for all. By signing in using this mobile wireless router, you are creating your own, personal hotspot with only one device using the connection. All of your devices are connecting to the router, not the hotel’s internet service. It even has a repeater to let you boost a weak wireless signal and will function as a standard router when not on the road.
Bonus gadget: PowerCurve Mobile Surge Protector
This handy-dandy device is a definite “must have” when traveling with multiple electronic devices. It’s a small, portable surge protector that provides two outlets and two USB ports that lets everyone in the family charge their devices from just one outlet.
Portable DVD Player
These come standard in many minivans, but it is easy enough to install your own DVD player in a rental car or carry it on a plane. Portable versions are relatively inexpensive and you can choose a large screen, or dual screen versions that strap to the back of the front seats. Many systems come with USB ports and card readers which allow users to play games or view internet videos. Load up on short videos about the places you’ll be visiting and get the family excited about the next stop before you get there.
There are many types available today and you can easily find a version that fits your needs and your budget. Essentially a simple computer, a tablet can play music, display ebooks and provide entertainment. Apps are available that will let our child search for digital treasures, draw, colour or build virtual cities. Many tablets can store (and show) short movies and cartoons that will keep smaller children entertained while on the road or at the hotel. Decide what features your kids while likely use the most and use that as your starting point. Don’t forget protective covers, especially if the children are younger.
Bonus Gadget: Robot Headphone Splitter
Cute and cheap, this little guy plugs into a standard earphone jack and two earphones can plug into his eyes. Unless you really enjoy listening to the kids’ activities, this is essential for parents on a trip, allowing the kids to enjoy their film or game without disturbing the people around them.
Most people assume that they’ll have phone contact with their kids and can just call them if they’re out of site, but what happens when there is no service? If your plans include camping, hiking, cruise ships, or even large museums, having radio contact with your children can be the difference between panic and reassurance. Radio sets with two- to 10-mile range are inexpensive and easy to carry, just remember to have a few spare batteries with you at all times. They are also a lot of fun for younger kids to play with without fear of them losing an expensive cell phone.
If the kids are too young to use a radio effectively and you want to be able to locate them quickly in a crowd, try a tracking device like the Giggle Bug toddler tracker. It’s a bright little bug that clips to your kid’s backpack or clothes, and when you press a button on your fob it beeps and blinks its eyes until it is manually deactivated. It has a 25 to 30-metre range and runs on coin cell batteries. If your youngsters are the type that like to charge off on their own, this cute little bug will help you track them down in a crowd.
Bonus Gadget: GPS Tracker
There are many different sources for small trackers that can be fixed to a child’s backpack, a car or in any carrying case. These allow you to use your cell phone to track children or items so you always know where they are.
Toddlers’ Riding Luggage
These are wonderful when you will be doing a lot of walking with luggage, such as transiting large airports or using public transportation to get to your hotel. Melissa & Doug has a nice selection of styles and colours, but they all have the same great features: sturdy, carry-on sized, ride-able and pull-able. They even do double-duty as a cute storage bin when you get home.The suitcases are designed to hold youngsters up to 75 pounds; larger children will have to be content with pulling their luggage instead of riding it.