Knowing how to keep your little ones amused whilst travelling can be a daunting prospect – especially since children’s attention spans are noticeably getting shorter!
There are several ways you can keep your kids happy and entertained whilst on holiday without breaking into a sweat! Here is our list of must-have tech gadgets for your young ones that will help take the pressure off:
Tablets and Gaming Devices
Knowing the best devices can help keep you one step ahead of your kids. Tablets and gaming devices are at the top of our essential tech to have on family holidays for their sheer versatility. They allow kids to switch effortlessly between playing games, learning, watching movies and even reading e-books.
Tep suggests you bring along a tablet like Apple’s iPad Mini 2, if you want a device that’s great for both you and the kids. It’s pricey at $399 but fully worth it if you want to be able to sneak in a rom-com after the kids’ bedtime!
If you want something more affordable, Asus’ Nexus 7 (2013) is a great alternative – it runs on Android and is under $150. If you’re in the market for a tablet that is designed specifically with kids in mind then check out the Leap Pad Ultra (for young children 3+) or the Amazon Fire 7” Kids Edition, which have some of the best parental controls out there.
The Amazon Kindle is another good option for families with slightly older kids who love to read. With an amazing range of digital books on offer (which are usually cheaper than actually books) the Kindle (and Fire 7”) allow your kids to bring along all their favorites, with none of the heavy lifting!
As much as kids love tablets, nothing quite compares to the thrill of a captivating game played on their very own device. Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PSVita are two portable gaming devices that are guaranteed to please with thousands of top-rated games.
We particularly love modern classics like Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7 (for Nintendo) or Tearaway and Little Big Planet (for Playstation). These devices aren’t cheap and will cost you upwards of $180 each, so just remember to factor in all the costs. Games can cost from anywhere between $20-$60 each!
TIP: If you don’t own a tablet or aren’t ready to take the plunge and buy a Nintendo/PSVita, your smartphone can act as a perfectly good alternative, just make sure you carry a heavy duty power pack (like this one) with you, as hours of app use will wear your battery down!
Smart Phones for Kids
With the next generation of kids growing up along side technology, it’s no wonder smartphones are on our essential holiday tech list. Whilst they may not be suitable for younger kids, a mobile phone can be a great way to keep your older one’s thirst for connectivity satisfied.
They can listen to music, play games, connect with friends and browse the internet from a single device. If you don’t fancy giving up your own phone for the duration of your holiday or forking up $800+ on a new iPhone, you could invest in a decent mobile for less than $300.
Our pick for kids is the Sony Experia M4 Aqua – a great mid-range phone with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a more expensive device, plus some added extras (like its waterproof design), all for less than $250!
Tip: Make sure you check roaming charges with your network provider before you go on holiday and read our post on how to avoid the pitfalls of holiday wifi and data roaming. If you don’t want to deprive your kids of internet on holiday you could always try renting a fixed-cost portable wifi device (see below) that can be used by your entire family. It could save you a lot of money and a potential vacation nightmare!
Apps and More Apps
Once you are armed with a tablet, gaming device or mobile phone, you are ready to start downloading apps that will help your little ones while away the hours. Any smartphone or tablet with access to the internet and an App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play store (for Android devices) can be used to download millions of apps that range from free to $1-$5+ each.
Apps are a fun and inexpensive way for kids to test a range of skills including memory, languages, mental math and even creativity. For children with a flair for art and music there are plenty of options that will allow their imaginations to run wild.
Disney Pixel’d, Colour and Draw for Kids and Magic Piano are some of our personal favorites for smaller children. If you want to make sure you balance fun time with learning, try downloading educational games like: Tynker, GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, Ansel & Clair’s Adventures in Africa, Squeebles Word Search and Dexteria Dots 2.
There are so many fab games available that we couldn’t possibly fit them all in, but our top picks Minecraft Pocket Edition, Moshi Monsters and Petting Zoo are tried and tested apps that will keep your children happy for hours! If you need more app-spiration take a look at bestappsforkids.com, it does exactly what it says on the tin, so expect to find the best games and apps (reviewed by bona fide moms).
They may not seem like essential tech but with a child’s ears being far more sensitive to sounds than an adults, headphones are on our must-have tech list. Not only will they allow your child to listen to music, games and stories without disturbing you, they will also ensure their hearing is protected.
For kids under 6 years old, we suggest Kidz Gear Wired Headphones or LilGadgets Untangled Pro. Older kids who can really appreciate higher sound quality will love Puro Sound Lab’s Kids Bluetooth Wireless BT2200 – they’re also conveniently less garish for the fashion conscious youngsters!
Even with every gadget imaginable under you belt, you will have a hard time pleasing your kids if you don’t have reliable access to the internet. Whether it’s to check their social media or download games, wifi is an essential for the next generation of tech savvy kids.
However, using your mobile phone abroad can be a very costly affair, especially when you have several data hungry children waiting to stream movies on Netflix or watch videos on YouTube.
If you want to avoid all hell breaking loose across your family and bank accounts make sure you check out Tep’s brilliant portable wifi device. The device is perfect for large families who want to access the internet simultaneously whilst on holiday.
It costs just $9.95 and can connect up to 5 devices at a time and gives you unlimited, reliable and secure wifi. What’s even better is you don’t have to invest in the device yourself, just rent it as and when you need it.
With Tep the kids can continue enjoying their high-tech gadgets whilst mom and dad sit back and relax without stressing over mobile phone bills or unhappy campers!