Sanity Saving Gadgets For The Traveling Family

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It’s the day before Thanksgiving and you’ve been locked in a car with your teenage kids for six hours. How do you keep calm amongst the troops, and your sanity? Check out these Nerd Chick-approved gadgets to have you smooth sailing this holiday season.

There’s nothing worse than the death of your kid’s Nintendo DS when you still have hours left in the car or on the plane. Never again! For about $50, the Power Monkey is pocket-sized and charges all your portable electronics, including mobile phone, iPod, digital camera, portable gaming system, and any other USB-powered device. It has a huge power reserve (40 hours for iPods, 96 hours of standby time for mobile phones) and holds its charge for up to a year on standby. While it comes with a bunch of adapters, make sure it includes the ones that work with your devices (BEFORE you leave). If not, you can purchase additional adapters for about $5 each. If you are going to be camping in the middle of nowhere, they even make a solar-powered version for about $100.

One surefire way to calm the backseat monkeys is a portable DVD player. We like the Coby TFDVD7751 7″ Tablet Portable Dual-Screen DVD Player, retailing for about $130. You play one movie on two lightweight screens that strap to the headrests in your car, or can be held in your lap on a plane. Anti-skip technology will accommodate all but your off-roading adventures. It comes with earphones that plug into both screens for separate volume control. Also included are a remote control and a cable to connect the unit to a TV so you can watch movies or show photos at your destination. You can run the unit off battery, or it’ll play forever using the included AC or car power adapters. It even plays while charging! If you want to save space on a plane, consider bringing just one screen and using an earphone splitter, available virtually anywhere that sells earphones.

If you want an iPhone but can’t transfer to a new cell carrier anytime soon, consider the iPod Touch. It plays downloaded videos and music, records videos, takes pictures, has a WIFI connection to cruise the internet, and access to the “app store” where you can download over 250,000 games or applications, many of which are free. There’s nothing like a little “Angry Birds” to get you through a five-hour plane ride. It also includes Apple’s video chat feature, Facetime, so your teenager can “see” their friends instead of just whining about how miserable he or she is without them. You can download books to turn it into a book-reader device, or use it to access your local newspaper. Starting at $229 for 8GB of storage, you could expect to store 3 full-length movies, music and applications. There are larger storage versions available as well: 32GB retails for $299.

If the iPod Touch sounds too “flashy,” and you want just a simple book-reader device, look into Amazon’s Kindle (starting at $139). With access to Amazon’s extensive library, the device can store up to 3,500 books, or audiobooks, each of which can be downloaded directly to the device in approximately 60 seconds (no computer needed). It’s lighter than your average paperback and has an anti-glare screen that lets you read comfortably even in direct sunlight. Wired Magazine says, “Battery life is long enough for space shuttle missions.” A single charge will last you up to a month if you turn off the WIFI. There’s even a text-to-speech feature that you can use to have the Kindle read English-language content to you.

We hope these gadgets help make your holiday travels harmonious, for all the members of your entourage. Did we forget to profile the gadget you’ve had your eye on? Send us a note on Facebook (facebook.com/nerdsoncall) or email us at [email protected] Happy Trails!

 

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.