Gadgets for Geeks in a Traveling Family Personal / Travel

I admit it. I’m a gadget geek. As much as I tout the fact that we travel with only carry-on luggage and that everything I personally own can fit in a small backpack, I’m a sucker for small, sleek, stylish, and efficient technology, electronic or not, and a good portion of what’s in my backpack is gadgets.

Here is a list of some of the cool gadgets I use in my travels, many of which I’ve only started using in recent weeks, thanks to being in more developed places like Malaysia and Singapore where you can actually find some of this gear (although often at higher prices than Amazon).

Click the heading or picture of any item below to learn more about each product.

Bose SoundLink Wireless Speakers

If you’ve seen some of the super small portable speakers you can get, you may have been disappointed with their sound quality and volume levels. These may be fine for listening at your desk, but if you want to listen to music throughout your house, and without a weak and tinny quality, you need a bit more power. These Bose speakers fit the bill without filling the suitcase. Yes, they’re not cheap, retailing at $299.95, but they pack excellent quality sound in a small package. They even work wirelessly via Bluetooth and can run for 8 hours when fully charged.

Sack ‘n Seat Portable High chair

If you travel with a 6-30 month old, you may run into the problem of not having a high chair for your baby, whether in an apartment or house you rent, or at restaurants you visit. The Sack ‘n Seat solves this problem with a very portable cloth high chair (or baby chair, as they’re often called here in the Southeast Asia) that drapes over any existing chair back and folds up into a bag about the size of your baby’s head. Very convenient. Washable. It holds our baby in better than some of the restaurant high chairs we’ve run into.

Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants

These have got to be the ultimate traveling pants! The material is super light weight and thin, but very strong. They’re full of pockets. They keep you warm in the cold, and cool in the heat. They have built-in UV protection, stay dry in wet conditions, resist stains, and supposedly can’t be penetrated by mosquitos. But the best part? You can convert them into shorts by unzipping them at the knee. And they’re comfortable to boot. What more can you want in a pair of travel pants?

Pacsafe wallet

Having been robbed within the past year, I’m still fairly paranoid about keeping our stuff safe. One way I’ve done this is by buying a secure wallet and attaching it to my belt loop via a strong chain. This wallet opens with velcro, has a zipper for the currency pocket which has a divider that I appreciate when dealing with multiple currencies. It also has plenty of spots to store credit cards, coins, and other items. I feel much safer traveling around with this wallet

Apple iPhone

I know, I know. This is old news, and an Android phone could probably do the same things. But I’m still amazed at how often I use my iPhone. Some apps that have been really helpful are the Sygic GPS maps which completely replaced my Garmin GPS, GoTasks which I sync with Google Tasks to remember things I want to do, Collins dictionaries for learning languages and looking up unknown words, and Flashlight, currency conversion, and other unit conversion apps. And I’m always looking up questions we have as we’re out and about. Travel would be a completely different experience without it.

iPhone Chain

I’ve never broken my iPhone from dropping it. But I’ve had friends who have not only dropped iPhones, but had them stolen out of their pocket. And I don’t want that to happen to me. So I bought an iPhone Chain that attaches my iPhone to my belt loop and makes it more difficult for pickpockets and gravity to take my phone away. It’s a great idea and I’m glad someone thought of it. The company even agreed to ship it to me in Singapore.

Solar USB charger

iPhones and other electronic devices are only useful while they have power. If you drive on long trips or spend much time away from a power source, you may find a solar charger useful. There are a lot to choose from, and I didn’t take time to research much with this purchase. But the one I have comes with a windshield attachment for cars and can store power in it as a backup battery as well, which can be used to charge any USB powered device including iPhones. It can take 16 hours to fill the battery, depending on the amount of sunlight its receiving, but every little bit helps when you’re away from power.

Pacsafe anti-theft backpack/bag protector

Can I share just one more anti-theft device? This one is useful for securing a backpack or bag in a hotel room when you leave. You can wrap it around an opening in a bed’s headboard or footboard, plumbing, toilets, or whatever seems secure in the room, and its strong wiring should help deter thieves, or at least slow them down.  The mesh packs up pretty small into a nice bag that’s probably well worth its weigh if it helps prevent a theft.

Have you used any of these? What other gadgets have you found useful or fun when you travel? Share your thoughts below.

Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in each moment.


  1. Jennifer Pearce Says: February 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Amazing inventions make life nice, that’s for sure. I’m especially glad we have them to discover and use in our travels.

  2. For the portable speaker. I would actually go for Jawbone JAMBOX, it is cheaper and powerful as well.


  3. I can see how many of those (well, ALL of those) would be very useful for traveling. That portable high chair is pretty dang cool.

  4. I may have to get myself some of these gadgets…. thanks for the reviews.

  5. How do you manage your calling and data plans being that you are international? Specifically, we are moving to Costa Rica later this year and haven’t figured out what we’ll be doing for phones yet.

    • Congratulations on the move! Here in Asia, it’s easy. You just buy a pre-paid sim and use it as you go. It includes data and is very affordable. I think you can do the same in Costa Rica, too, and that you can get the prepaid cards at the airport. But when I was there, I just got a regular phone/data plan there. It was about $7/month for phone and $20 for unlimited 3G Internet on my iPhone. There are no contracts. It’s just month to month. The trouble is that you either need to be a resident in order to get the number, or you need to have a Costa Rican business. Or find a friend who can get an extra line for you. :) Otherwise, prepaid is the way to go.

  6. These are cool – I’m putting those pants on my list of things I need to get….

  7. I want to thank you for this wonderful list of items! I just ordered the iPhone chain and sent them the link to this article. My son has moved to Costa Rica and I will be visiting him often, possibly moving there also. Your blog about living in Costa Rica has been wonderful information for our family. All the best & thank you!

  8. p.s. I have several Pacsafe products, but wasn’t aware of the wallet with chain. Just ordered one, thanks to your article!

  9. Hi Brandon,

    It was great to meet you and your beautiful family last night! When we meet up next, I’ll
    bring my FoxL speakers to see what you think. I love them for travel too. Great list… going to look for the portable high chair (or have one made here!!)!
    So curious… (and off topic)… how did the first day of school go???

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