Summer days are here, and beach days and road trips beckon. But just because you’ll be near the sand and surf or completely out of range in the middle of nowhere (try a national park!) is no reason to travel without your favorite gadgets. We’ve compiled a handy list of gadgets that will make your summer vacation easier and more enjoyable, no matter where you roam.
Bring All Your Music
Mini Wireless Speaker
Sure, you can play your music right on your phone. Or you can step it way, way up in terms of sound quality with a portable wireless speaker. They come in tons of shapes and styles, but they all stream audio from Bluetooth, AirPlay or wifi-enabled devices like tablets and smartphones. Almost every manufacturer you know and love has a cordless version these days, so take your pick from brands like JBL, Bose, Logitech, Beats and more. Price points vary – you can spend well under $100 for a really great little speaker, all the way up to $400 for some of the pricier versions. Some models come with remote controls and – get this – there are even waterproof options.
Spend a little: For only $14, the Marsboy Portable Bluetooth Speaker offers 12 hours of playing time, a 50 foot Bluetooth range and 3D Dynamic sound effect. It only weighs about 4 ounces, so it can go anywhere.
Spend a lot: Check out the Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II, available for about $130. This small, water-resistant speaker has a soft-touch silicone exterior (in an array of fun colors!) that makes it easy to pick up and go, even with wet hands. The lithium-ion battery lets you enjoy up to 8 hours of play time and is rechargeable with USB power sources. You COULD spend a lot more, but why?
Bring Your Whole Library
Tablet or E-Reader
If reading is on your agenda while you relax poolside, bring along a tablet or e-reader loaded with your favorite titles. If you have access to wifi, you can browse and download new books on the spot. Tablets give you a little more flexibility if you have kids in tow – they can stay busy with games and movies in places like the airport or on the road. Pro tip – if you’re unsure about wifi access, make sure you download a few books or magazines before your trip. Movies can take longer to download, so do this ahead of time too.
Spend a little: For under $50, the Amazon Fire with ads on the home screen is a wifi Android tablet that has 8 gigs of storage, the Kindle app built in, and allows basic tablet operations including social media, document creation, photos and more. Without ads and with enhanced storage, you can spend up to $150 on the Fire series. The classic Kindle series is still available in a variety of sizes and storage options, starting at $80 and ranging to $250.
Spend a lot: The newest Apple iPads range in price from $329 to well over $1,000, depending on size, memory and other features. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro is the top of the line model, but less expensive versions are available, including a Mini.
Bring Your Essential Gadgets
Portable Battery Charger
All of these gadgets need charged batteries to work and if you don’t have access to an outlet, a portable charger is your best bet. USB-chargers are relatively inexpensive and some are small enough to fit in your pocket. Use them to keep your smartphone, tablet or wireless speaker charged and ready, even if you’re away from a wall outlet.
We like: Check out the list of the best-rated portable chargers!
Keep your phone and even your tablet splash-safe if you’re going to be near the water. Waterproof cases are available for your devices, and most of them double as impact-resistant too – a prudent move if your kids are going to be playing with your stuff.
We like: Lifeproof Cases are known for great selection and stellar reputation. Shop cases for Apple, Samsung and Motorola devices. Prices vary depending on device and options. Otterbox is another great option at a lower price point.
When you can’t use your wireless speaker – or you need to block out someone’s crying baby, screaming kids or that annoying engine drone – you need headphones to enjoy all that music or a movie. Spring for a wireless over-the-ear set that will pair with your smartphone or tablet and enjoy awesome sound quality.
We like: Bose is the top of the line, of course. But there are lots of other options that don’t cost as much. Amazon has sets for as low as $16!
The palm-sized camera that’s a staple among adventurists can double as a go-anywhere camera for vacationers too. Unlike smartphones, you can stick GoPros in spots you wouldn’t want to put your smartphone, and the wide-angle lens gives you a better chance at high-focus shots. Bonus – GoPros are rugged and can be accessorized with straps, mounts and clamps (dog-harness and chest mounts, to start) for really cool photo opportunities. Prices start around $200 and go to $700 before accessories.