6 Must-Have Vacation Gadgets for Your Summer Getaway

beach houseIf you're headed out on the open road this summer, you're going to need a few things. Water is a must, as is lots of reading material for the kids. But what gadgetry should you haul along to a long vacation or summer rental?

After a few years of hitting the beach with my fam, here are some of the things I don't leave home without.

An iPod Dock - Whenever we hit the beach rental, we always like to pop on a little Vampire Weekend or the Tangled soundtrack and rock out as we unpack. Rather than just play music through a tiny set of speakers, however, we prefer to use something like the wireless JBL Onbeat Air or the portable Bose Sounddock (I know, I know, everyone says Bose is overpriced but you won't find a better iPod dock for under $400). The dock holds your phones, lets you listen to streaming music, and is eminently portable.


A smartphone with good camera software - Pick your smartphone -- any smartphone -- but make sure you have Instagram and an app like Color Splash so you can grab some good shots on the road. At this point you barely even need to bring a point and shoot or DSLR.

A tablet - Grab a Kindle Fire or similar tablet to read and watch Netflix. You don't need a full-bore device like an iPad and a standard e-ink ebook reader like the original Kindle is a bit underpowered. Rather than bringing a laptop, just grab something small, portable, and with plenty of battery life. 

A network device - This is a bit of a hard choice. If you and your family are dedicated web users, you may want to pick up a wireless device like the Verizon Jetpack, a small Wi-Fi device that allows all of your phones and computers to surf the web. Here's the rub: connectivity on the road costs money but if you need an emergency way to send an email, this may be your best bet.

A charging pack - You're going to loose juice at some point and you're going to want to charge your iPhone from the cigarette lighter in your car? What to do? Pick up a Mophie Juice pack and a cheap USB adapter for your vehicle. This combo will allow you to charge your devices on the go and recharge from the car.

A backup phone - If you're travelling overseas or expect to be away from home for a while, why not invest a few bucks in a cheap GSM world phone. I found this hunk of garbage on eBay for $17 (do a search for "world GSM phone") and that's literally all you need if you're stranded in the middle of nowhere and can't power up any of your other gear. These phones are cheap, usually have excellent battery life, and if you're abroad, you can often buy a prepaid SIM card so you can call friends and family on the cheap.

A good laptop/day bag - I like to bring a small, usable laptop bag that can double as a day bag if I don't need my hardware. The Nomadic Wise Walker is one of my favorites but any small messenger-style bag works. I rarely recommend a backpack simply because they get too hot and cumbersome on long walks.

What gadgets do you always travel with?

Image via miss-britt/Flickr

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