If you occasionally travel with kids, you know that providing a constant stream of entertainment is a crucial part of enjoying your vacation. While choosing a fun and/or educational destination is definitely a big part of your role as chief planner and ticket-buyer, there are also the in-between moments to account for. In other words, it’s on you to create a packing list for vacation that keeps you and the young’uns focused and (more importantly) sane at the hotel or vacation house.
Create a Home Away From Home
In the old days, keeping kids entertained was as simple as bringing a few favorite toys and hoping for the best. Now, though, there are the gadgets to consider—and while the smartphones and tablets children love are made for maximum portability, their beloved video game consoles are considerably harder to pack in a cramped car or carry-on bag.
The good news is that console makers have made it easier than ever for kids to stick their noses in a screen on the go. Take Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, both of which allow remote play over the Internet. Just bring along a Windows 10 laptop (Xbox) or a Sony-branded smartphone or handheld gaming device like the Vita (PS4), and boom—the kids can play their favorite games anywhere Wi-Fi’s available. As any parent who’s made it to the hotel before realizing they’ve forgotten this power cable or that favorite game will tell you, these options are far better than cramming a suitcase with consoles and hoping for the best!
Bring Along Some Mobile Power . . .
That’s not to say forgotten power cables are totally a thing of the past. In fact, a misplaced charger or unpacked cord can make travel with kids less pleasant than it should be. A lot less. Shelling out big-time dough for a short-term replacement isn’t the only option here, however. Adding a portable universal charger to your packing list for vacation is the definition of pro-level planning. And since many such devices—including the Nomad 7 Solar Panel by Goal Zero—use solar energy, not even funky international plug-and-socket standards can slow you down. Whether you’re in-country or abroad, having an “always-on” way to juice your devices can make all the difference.
. . . and Mobile Sound to Boot
When you travel with kids, three things are certain: The children will want to watch their favorite shows in between destination visits, in-room on-demand services are expensive as all get-out, and nothing stings more than spending beaucoup bucks on a movie you’ve already seen a thousand times.
Here’s a workaround: load your tablet or smartphone with digital copies of the kids’ favorite movies and hook it up to a wireless Bluetooth speaker the second you hit the hotel. The former provides the video, while a kid-proof, nigh-indestructible speaker (LivingSocial boasts a wide selection) ensures any cries of “I can’t heeeear it” stop before they even start. Most speakers also double as speakerphone accessories for your existing phone—perfect for making last-second calls as you triple-check your packing list for vacation. Travel on!