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We Tested The Best Travel Gadgets to Make Your Holiday Travel Fuss-Free

12/03/2019
Team Urban Tykes

car-full-of-luggage‘Tis the season for braving or running away from crowded malls, for taking out that blasted–or beloved, your pick–elf, for having 50 browser tabs open to compare discounts for doorbuster sales, and for dreading even more hectic times at airports and flights.

As early as July 2019, AccuWeather.com already reported that  AAA predicts that over the 2019 holiday season more than 97.4 million people will travel by car, 6.4 million people will travel by air, and another nearly 12 million people will travel by train. 

If you’re one of those lucky families you know holiday travel can be stressful.  All the packing, unpacking and repacking to get the gifts and clothes in as few suitcases as possible.  Then there’s the cat that climbs into the luggage and accidentally rips your son’s favorite ugly Christmas sweater. All while trying to appease the kids who are already taking dibs on toys and tablets, complaining about sharing a bed at Aunt Bertha’s, and refusing to eat the same snacks so you now have to think about how much food to pack on your trip.

Not to fear! We’ve tried and tested these cool travel gadgets to help ease your holiday travel burden for 2019!  Below is a list of our top 10 must have travel gadgets for families that will bring some cheer to everyone’s’ life whether flying, driving, or taking to the rails.

1. Away’s The Everywhere Bag

Why we like it: This is our vote for the perfect personal carry-all bag to complement your carry-on. The two external pockets are super handy–one snugly holds your phone in place so it doesn’t get lost in the cavernous main compartment, and the zippered one in the back nicely holds IDs and passports for easy access during security checks. As an added bonus, that pocket also slides over your rollaway case. Also, there’s ample space and pockets inside to keep all your stuff organized, a compartment for your laptop, and a waterproof compartment in the bottom for your wet umbrella (I guess clothes, too, we won’t judge). There’s a key clip so you don’t have to rummage for your keys when you get home (who remembers where you put them after a few days on vacation, amirite?)–and the tether is long enough that you don’t have to unhook the keys from the clip to open your door.

You can view a wide array of color and material options on Away’s website. P.S. We’re fairly partial to the Scotch Leather limited edition.

2. The Que Collapsible Water Bottle

Why we like it: It’s 100% plastic-free, reusable, and collapsible! It saves space which is a great plus when traveling. Take it with you on your next flight–fill it up after clearing security using one of the water refilling stations that are now found in most airports. Made from FDA-approved silicone, the Que water bottle is designed to be leak-proof, making excellent sippy cups even for your rough-and-tumble kiddos!

These water bottles come in a variety of colors, are super flexible (read: can double as a makeshift stress ball for parents or a squeeze toy for older kids), and are shockproof. You take the cap off to expand or collapse the water bottle to the size you need. It can shrink to half its size, it’s dishwasher safe, plus it’s free of weird smells and tastes.

The company has a sustainability model, encourages others to live sustainably, and gives back to charities that help fight climate change and protect the earth’s natural resources.

3. Headset Splitter

Why we like it: Traveling with two or more kids who want to watch the same video on a tablet arguing over who gets to listen to the headphones mid-flight is something we all want to avoid.  With this handy gadget two people can listen on their own headphones or headset at the same time! There are a few different types of two way headset splitters that can easily be found on Amazon.com, but be sure to look at how it’s split before you slide that “purchase now” button. 

Some headset splitters are made for gaming systems, so make sure you look for a splitter that says “female audio.”  Have a big family? This headphone audio splitter is our favorite for you as it splits one auxilary line into 5 lines!

4. The JetKids BedBox by Stokke

Why we like it: Airline travel can be disruptive to our children’s sleep schedule.  If your kids are anything like ours, emotions run high when sleep is lacking. The BedBox is a durable, ride-on suitcase for kids that transforms a regular airplane seat into a bed for children!  Not only does it make for comfortable mid-air travel, it’s spacious at 23 liters so you can pack games and toys (or clothes) inside to keep those littles occupied.

Another key feature we like about the BedBox  is the top open access (most ride on suitcases have side openings) which makes for easy access from above while seated. Bonus–you can even let your little one ride these bad boys at the airport so you don’t have to worry about long walks in between terminals and gates! A word to the wise, though: not all airlines approve of the use of the bed box and any other seat extender or modifier, but the JetKids website has a page listing all the airlines who do approve.

5. WiFi Hotspot – Skyroam Solis X

Why we like it: It doesn’t get any easier or sweeter than using this WiFi hotspot. It gives you 4G LTE WiFi in over 130 countries, it’s a power bank, it has an 8MP remote camera with a wide-angle lens, and you can share it on up to 10 devices. Our founder Billy Gozum tested the Skyroam Solis X hotspot on her most recent family trip and she says: “The Skyroam is my #1 bang-for-your-buck purchase of the year! It was passed around between family members and was taken all over the globe–Yosemite, San Francisco, New York, Taipei, Japan, The Philippines, and Los Angeles–and it passed the test!

Users can choose to either rent or buy the device so affordability is on point. You can also choose among a wide array of data plans. We tried the $99 monthly unlimited data plan and for our needs, it was well worth it because we had speedy internet even on subways and at sea for the whole month that we were traveling!” Some caveats–you’ll want to take the device out of its case during use to avoid overheating, and if you use it all day, you will need to charge it every day as well.

6. Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids

Why we like it:  Choosing the right tablet for our kids is a big job.  The Amazon Fire for kids tablet comes with a kid-proof case, parental controls that include age-appropriate apps, time allotment for games, reading, educational activities, and watching videos, as well as screen access and time of day controls. Have an early riser? Start access at 6am but set it to turn off at 7am.

The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablet comes with 32 GB of memory so you can download your child’s favorite PBS Kids episodes or movies for flights and long road trips where wifi is not available. With all the parental features this remains one of the best and most affordable tablets for kids at $79.99-$125 depending on deals Amazon might be running at the time of purchase.

7. LapBaby Belt by Primo

Why we like it: Parents of babies are always on the lookout for more hacks to achieve hands-free status despite carrying the baby. Whether traveling by plane, by bus, or by train, the problem is all the same. It’s a challenge to feed yourself, to help your other little ones, or just relax while holding baby on your lap for hours at a time. 

The LapBaby Belt by Primo is similar to a soft sided baby carrier but allows both the parent and baby (who can hold their head up on their own) more freedom of movement. Primo specially designed the LapBaby to be lightweight for use specifically during seated activities, like holiday air travel!  Keep baby close and comfy while allowing yourself to have two free hands!

8. Baby Banz Sound Protection Earmuffs

Why we like it: If you have a baby who’s really sensitive to loud noises, this is the gadget for you. They have super soft padding and they protect baby’s ears from harmful noises, so it’s perfect to put on while you’re walking through the airport to drown out those announcements or even loud talkers and other crying babies, and reviewers raved about how well it’s worked to help calm baby over the loud airplane engines.

Be extra cautious buying copycats, though, and there are quite a lot now that are claiming to be noise-cancelling. Since you are buying them to protect your baby, you want to thoroughly read reviews and use your own judgment before making your purchase and being swayed by lower price points.

9. Bentgo Portable Snack Bento Box

Why we like it: Let’s face it, many of our kids are picky eaters.  If one type of food touches another type they might not eat it. And if we’re keeping it real, even us adults sometimes want our crunchy food crunchy and our soft food soft when it’s time to eat!  Bentgo has developed a leak proof, spill proof bento box with four food compartments and a separate sauce compartment. Bento boxes give parents the freedom to pack multiple snacks in one container to please each person in the family, or to keep our sensory kiddos worry free. 

We’ve seen parents get really creative with snack options, from yogurt to nuts, sliced fruits and veggies to crackers and hummus. Having these bento boxes on your travels saves a lot of hassle with worrying about healthy snack options for your kids while on your layover or even in the air, what with airline snacks seemingly getting more limited each year.

10. SimplyStraws Reusable Straws and Utensils

Why we like it: Because no single-use plastic, duh! Also we know that’s not proper English, but eh. This company’s close to our hearts because they’re fellow Californians, and it was started by a mother-daughter duo who were committed to protecting the earth so they set out to create reusable, sustainable, durable, and recyclable utensils that are still pretty dang cute as they are functional (read more about their commitment to the planet here)!

There are steel and glass options for straws, and the utensil sets come with a spoon, fork, knife, and even chopsticks! They all fit snugly into a portable case that has a carabiner so you hook multiple sleeves together, and all straws come with cleaning brushes so you don’t have to worry about how to keep them hygienic.

For all you eco-friendly moms and dads (and really, we should all care about this planet), their utensil kits are the perfect companion to your travels so you can skip the single-use plastic utensils at the airport or even on the plane!

The reviews we provided above are personal recommendations from the Urban Tykes Team and are by no means endorsed by any of the companies mentioned above. Unless expressly stated in this blog, we do not have any connections or relationships with these companies and are only providing reviews based on our own experiences with these products. As an Amazon Associate, we are compensated a commission from any purchases made by clicking on the Amazon links provided above. 

At Urban Tykes, it's our mission to get parents off the travel struggle bus! Are you having vacation envy or thinking of ways to save up for your next trip? List the baby gear you already own and rent them out to families visiting your city! Wanna go on a trip with your little ones but don't want to bring the bulky baby gear they won't use until you get there? Rent the baby gear you need from a local parent–we'll take care of drop-off and pick up!

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