I’m packing up my family of six up for our exciting vacation to Hawaii (squee!), and like most parents, I’m making my tech list and checking it twice. Do we really need to bring a laptop (the answer here is NO!)?

Inspired by Brian Chen’s piece at the New York Times Devices That Deserve to Go Along on Vacationhere’s what I’m packing for our week-long vacation (and extremely long plane rides) with four kids, other than my smart phone, which I can’t leave home without.

Related: 6 simple tech tips for traveling with kids that save us every time


I’m all for technology use on planes, especially when I’ve got about 13 hours on one with four kids. Between the iPads and people with smart phones, we’ve got enough for everyone to use either alone or with a splitter (don’t forget a splitter). We set them up with Family Sharing, so that they’re all loaded with games we already own. We downloaded lots of movies and shows on Netflix, which saved us a lot of money in rental and purchase fees (sorry, iTunes), as well as books (don’t forget about audio books!).

Just be sure you have great cases, and enough headphones for all those little ears. And this should go without saying, but don’t forget charging cables and blocks.

Devices that deserve to go on family vacation: JBL waterproof Bluetooth speaker

Related: How to be prepared if your cell phone dies – 4 simple tips

Portable Bluetooth speaker 

Considering how small these are these days, a portable Bluetooth speaker (like the JBL, above) doesn’t take up much room in a bag, and it can come in handy, beyond it’s function of just blasting your music in your room or on the beach. They actually make great white noise machines (without having to pack a gigantic white noise machine), which my kids use for sleep.

Portable battery charger

I always make sure to have a portable battery charger in my bag at home, so it would make sense to have one for vacation. Preferably, more than one. For myriad reasons, you just don’t want to be stuck out and about with a dead phone. And trust me, it’s happened and it’s not so fun, considering your phone is your contact list and your GPS, or not so emergency-minded, your camera.

We’ve featured a bunch of portable battery chargers here on Cool Mom Tech, so take your pick of which one you prefer. A charging case is always a smart choice; our preference for iPhone users is the Apple charging case. And if you’re renting a car, pop a car charger in your bag. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you plan on doing a lot of driving like we are.

Related: Here’s what happened when I took my kids on a solo road trip


Devices that deserve to go on family vacation: Tile Bluetooth tracker


Bluetooth tracker

I’m a huge fan of Tile, which helps me find my keys and phone and a more than daily basis. But they’re great for popping in your luggage so you can locate it quickly at baggage claim. I also like popping one on my kid’s security blankets or loveys because we’ve accidentally left them in hotel rooms one too many times. I’d suggest attaching one to anything of great importance, then pressing the Tile before you check out to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

You can also place one inside your pool or beach bag so you can keep track of where it is at a crowded beach or pool area. Let’s just say the possibilities of how you’ll use them are endless.

Portable streaming device

Every single time we go on vacation we say Next time we’re going to bring that Amazon Fire Stick!, so this time, we actually remembered. (We also have a Chromecast that we’re going to pack as well since we have two rooms). As much as I love cable, it’s great to be able to stream movies and shows you own (or already pay to have access to on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, you get the idea). Whether it’s for downtime or a rainy day, it’s worth adding to your list if you own one.

Photo by Steven Thompson on Unsplash