16 essential travel gadgets

16 essential travel gadgets

For years my family has been planning the perfect trip to Disney. Now that sounds like a long time to plan a trip, but with COVID and moving, buying a house, and more, this trip has been postponed many times. Nevertheless, the time has finally come.

As my wife plans out which park we will go to on which day, I plan out how we are leaving the house and be prepared for that many people. My immediate thought about traveling with a large number of people is how we can prep because heading to Disney World is a bit different from heading to Target.

I knew we would have to have the right gear with us and leave the right gear behind. This article will be split into three sections; leave behind, travel, and Disney.

Leave Behind

Maybe this is just me, but whenever I leave my house for an extended period of time, I get paranoid. Now I don’t live in some big, crazy, unsafe neighborhood or even city, but I still want to make sure all is well at my home. So, I loved knowing that I had prepared my house and set it up securely at all times when I was gone. This began with my drive to the airport. We’ve all been there, we drive away from the house, and we immediately think, “oh no, did I close the garage door? Did I lock the front door? Did I turn the _____ off?” These are all questions that I thankfully did not need to drive back to answer for the first time in my life. I was able to check from my phone and make proper adjustments.

First off, my garage door is now controlled via a MyQ Smart Garage Control. I checked to make sure I had closed my garage and even closed it with my phone while driving away.

Second, I have my outdoor lights all controlled by TP-Link smart switches. I chose to do this because I thought it would be easier to swap out the rocker switches inside my house, closer to my router, than buy smart outdoor bulbs and hope they reach my router. These were super easy to swap out, had great instructions via the Kasa app, and worked great!

Third, I didn’t want to keep heating my house when I wasn’t there, nor did I want to come home to a frigid house. So, I picked up an Ecobee smart thermostat. This allows me to check the temperature in my house and control it! I can also set schedules, use built-in smart features to help me save a few bucks in heating and cooling costs, and more! This made it, so I could have my house get a little cooler while I was gone while also allowing me to start warming up on my flight home.

Lastly, I outfitted my entire home with Eufy Security products. I have an array of cameras, mainly the 2C and 2 Pro cameras, all around and inside my home. This allowed me to check in on any motion around my house while I was away, regardless of what caused it: every package delivered (all 15 in 5 days), every dog running through the yard, and even solicitors. I could see them all, making sure all was safe in my home. I also installed a Eufy doorbell and deadbolt. This allowed me to control access and grant secure access even while on the other side of the country.

Since I had so many packages, I could call a friend and have him put the packages inside my front door. This was via the Eufy Security app. I was able to go in and program a key code for him with a specific time of access so that he could show up, put in his code, drop the packages inside, and lock the door. All while I watched from the lines at Disney World.

Travel

Traveling any length of time is always an interesting phenomenon for me. I want to bring gear to get things done and have the ability to, but at the same time, I don’t want to risk bringing that gear as it could get damaged, stolen, or worse. The need to carry gear well is vital. And not only carry it well but also carry just enough without carrying too much — or too little.

With that being said, I found myself in this predicament with my iPad Pro. This tablet, or should I say computer, is how I get everything done. Now I know what you are thinking; how dare this guy bring his “work device” on vacation. And to be honest, I thought the same thing. Until I remembered, I also use this iPad for relaxing, movies, games, etc.

So, to find a great way to bring this with me inconspicuously, I grabbed my Twelve South Book Book that fits over my Magic Keyboard and threw it in my bag, ready to go. This case not only adds protection and a place to hold a charger. But it makes my very pricy iPad Pro setup look like a simple leather book. No longer appealing for someone to swipe quickly on the airplane, in the airport, or anywhere else.

I also brought with me my Nomad Folio for my iPad. While I usually use my iPad as my computer throughout most of my time using it, there are times that I want it as simply just a way to consume media or play games. When that time comes, I throw my iPad in this folio so that it’s easier to use!

To throw another much-needed product on my iPad, I finally replaced the Paperlike on my iPad. Paperlike has been a staple on my iPad since I first bought it. However, my most recent iPad paperlike screen had a few tiny bubbles in the screen that were driving me nuts that I did not have time to swap out until recently. Paperlike makes my writing experience on my iPad 10x better and genuinely drops glare on my screen, perfect for when I was pulling anything up on my iPad when out in the Florida sun!

There are two other significant factors while traveling in my book to change the direction a little bit. One is to make sure that the kids are comfortable and that I have my toiletries.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel right if I can’t brush my teeth and have my soap and deodorant. So, to carry my gear this trip, I picked up Nomatic’s Toiletry Wash Bag for Travel. This bag was great, a perfect size to hold my needed gear, and it’s even waterproof! I was thrilled with my choice of toiletry bag with a dedicated pocket for my toothbrush to keep it away from getting anything on it and organized slots for the rest of my products!

Regarding kids’ comforts, we brought some toys to help the evenings back at the hotel go well. But one thing that we brought extra this year was the Jooki. This little music box allows my son to choose music, even Spotify playlists, by simply placing a little square in a slot. He has volume control, skip/previous, play/pause control, and an easy carry handle. This little speaker has been the start of many dance parties and has even helped us wind down after an exciting day in the parks!

Disney

Traveling within Disney is no small feat. A recent estimation that I read said that the average guest walks around 11 miles a day at Disney. I averaged closer to 12 or 13; however, who is counting — except for my Apple Watch.

While walking around, I had a good chunk of our gear in the stroller we brought—water bottles, popcorn, toys, diaper bag, etc. I even had an AirTag and Tile hidden within the stroller and diaper bag just in case someone snagged it. However, since I had to park the stroller at every ride or show, there was no way I was about to leave my wallet, keys, phone, or anything else out in the stroller. Nor did I want to weigh down my shorts — even my new favorite, Legend Shorts — with all this gear. So, I resorted to a pack.

Because I had the ability, I chose to alternate between two different packs, both from Nomatic. I had the space in my bag and thought, why not try both out.

First up, I had the Nomatic Access Sling. Surprisingly roomy, this allowed me to carry my phone, Anker MagSafe battery (because let’s be real, I was that dad recording way too much of the trip), a mask, some goldfish, a wallet, and some sunglasses with room to spare.

While staying rather slim, Nomatic’s Access line gave me stylish storage — something my dad’s old “fanny pack” I would have needed to default to could not deliver. The minute I unboxed these pouches, I knew I had stumbled upon my new best friend in everyday carry.

Second, I tried out Nomatic’s Access Pouch. While it felt about the same size-wise, the pouch orientation is perpendicular to what the Access Sling gave me. I could fit a similar amount of gear; however, I had to rearrange the equipment in an entirely different way.

Both bags were excellent in their own ways, and I was very thankful to have them with me! I genuinely do not think I could have made it through Disney without these, plus now I have them for my daily carry!

I don’t know about you, but my iPhone will always be my true primary device. Because of this, I have chosen to wait a couple of years between each update, but then I get the best of the best. Right now, I have the iPhone 13 Pro Max — and I love it. As I plan to keep this device in the best condition possible for as long as possible, I also choose to invest in protecting my iPhone and my wife’s.

We picked her up some of Zagg’s top-of-the-line glass screen protectors for this trip to ensure we had no worries while away. The Zagg InvisibleShield Glass XTR with D30 Screen Protector is no small investment. It’s nearly a $60 piece of glass on my already expensive phone. However, I have chosen to see this as an extension of my device. This screen protects and actually helps enhance my viewing experience by helping filter some blue light, keep fingerprints off, resist scratches, and more.

Another item I picked up for my wife’s phone is the Gear4 Crystal Palace Snap Case. This is another extension of the phone to protect as best as possible, all while also keeping the iPhone looking as sleek and beautiful as possible.

Lastly, and what might have been the best choice to bring with me on a trip to Disney is the JioBit tracker. The moment we started planning our trip to Disney, I told my wife that we needed a tracker — or several — on our three-year-old son. I’m the kind of person who plans for the worst and hopes for the best.

The JioBit immediately sold me. I did a ridiculous amount of research and found that it really does seem to be “that good.” So I chose to try it out for myself. This little tracker has a handful of different attachment configurations; I chose the piece that allowed me to securely attach the tracker to the waistband of my son’s pants. With the companion app, I was able to track his every move and see where he has been with a very easy-to-use map feature. I also could ring his tracker, alert authorities, and more. I was truly blown away at the ease of mind that this tracker gave me, and it even allowed me to track down my son and the rest of my family he was with after I was done waiting in lines for coffee, rides, the bathroom, and everything else in the parks.

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Collin Probst

Editor in Chief Gearadical