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Gift Guide: Travel Tech For Kids & Teens

Gift Guide: Travel Tech For Kids & Teens

I try not to be the parent who hands my kid a tablet the second we turn the car ignition on or buckle our airplane seatbelts.

Even in a small seat there are more ways to entertain yourself than with videos and computer games.

But the older Teen Traveler gets the more she gravitates toward electronics for entertainment.

Luckily, there are all kinds of apps and gadgets that are creative, educating and engaging. And I’m all for taking advantage of tech that encourges doing and making, especially when we travel.

Here are some of my favorite tech toys and gadgets for taking in the car, on a plane or to a beach house. They’re organized by age, so you can find the best gift options for the tots, kids and teens in your life.

Gift Guide: Portable Tech Gadgets For Every Age Kid

Gifts For Preschoolers

Leapfrog's violet has a buddy named scout

Leapfrog My Pal plush toys 

I spent most of my daughter’s preschool years avoiding talking toys. But Violet and Scout are genuinely cuddly and they talk and sing enough to entertain kids without driving parents crazy. 

Amazon's fire for kids comes in durable cases in blue and other colors.

Amazon Fire

The gadget that seems most popular with my readers these days is the Amazon Fire HD 10 kids edition.

It comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, which includes access to age-appropriate books, apps, games, videos, songs, Audible books and more.

It also comes with a bright colored protective case, a dashboard you control from your phone, screen-time limits and a two-year guarantee against breakage.

The pbs kids tablet is a parent pleaser with its apps, games and videos that feature favorite characters.

A handheld from PBS

I like this PBS KIDS Playtime Pad+ because it’s a good size and has games, videos and song with your kids favorte PBS characters.

It has parental controls, too. And a durable case with easy-to-grip handles. and PBS is a brand most parents trust for quality preschool content.


Plush Prorective cases

• Once you’ve invested in portable electronics for your kids you want to protect those tables and phones safe. Try one of these two plush cases. The smaller reindeer plush case comes with a carabiner for attaching to backpacks or belts. It’s ideal for phones, cameras, small hand-helds and mp3 players. The larger fuzzy bear is great for tablets, Kindles and other larger hand-held devices. There’s room to slide a notebook or pen in there, too.

Gifts For School-Age Kids

Kids can decorate and then use these headphones from alex

DIY headphones

Design It Yourself, that is.

Crafty music lovers will have fun decorating these Alex Bling headphones and then listening to their favorite pop songs on them.

It keeps them busy and you don’t have to hear any more Taylor Swift!

Stikbot kit

Make movies anywhere

If your kids are interested in movie-making and animation, consider any of the many Stikbot kits Zing makes for use with its stop-motion movie-making app for phones and iPads.

The small figures are posable and have suction cup hands and feet to hold action poses. You can start with a few basic action figures and add on, pets, safari animals, monsters, dinosaurs and props.

The best thing part is that they are small enough that an airplane tray-table can be your kids movie set, and the suction cups will stick to that, too.

It gives new meaning to the term in-flight movies

Gifts For Tweens

The brightly colored fuji instax instant camera is the must-have retro gadget for middle schoolers.

A fun retro camera

Polaroid-type cameras are the retro-accessory every middle schooler wants these days. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 comes in seven bright colors like lime green and cobalt blue.

Add a case, some extra film and a photo album to the gift so your budding photographer is all ready to capture your next vacation.

These cameras are fun but have their limits. Have your tween use theirs for up-close, daytime photos; they don’t do well with scenery or at night.

Blue tooth headphones from lil gadgets come inb bright colors, sized for kids ' heads.

Affordable, fun bluetooth headphones

Lil Gadgets makes wireless bluetooth headphones just for kids and at a reasonable price.

Designed for both comfort and durability, they come in six colors and have built in volume limit and noise reduction. They come with a USB charging cable and a cable to attach to an ipod or phone if the battery runs out on a long trip.

The nintend switch lite is a game system made for travel. It comes in four colors.

Handheld gaming anywhere

f your tween is angling for a tablet or phone primarily to play games, skip the monthly mobile fee and buy a handheld game device like th Nintendo Switch Lite.

It comes in four colors and plays any Nintendo Switch game that is handheld compatible, including Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers.

It’s compact for tucking into a backpack pocket, but a hard-shell case to protect it might be a good add-on.

Anker flashlight

A small, bright flashlight

Teen Traveler has made sure to have her own flashlight in the back of the car since her early tween years.

Sometimes she wants to read after dark on long drives. Sometimes she just wants to find something she dropped.

It’s been handy in many ways. I like this LED flashlight because it’s bright and rechargeable (flashlight batteries can run down quickly) and has a loop for securing to a backpack. Plus, Anker is a brand that’s known for making durable products.

Pop socket wallet

A new, better Popsocket

Popsockets are handy, literally. They attach to the back of a phone, tablet or e-reader and pop out to provide a more secure grip when kids and teen are using their device out in public. They also act as a stand if you’re watching videos or sitting reading.

But the have never played well with the wallet cases we’ve tried using them with. So I was happy to see this new item: a Popsocket and card-and-money all in one. With the same cool colors and interchangeable socket caps, too.

Gifts For Teens

Holystone drone

An affordable drone

Video and photo-savvy kids love drones and this starter drone from Holy Stone comes in under $100.

It’s easy to handle, can be controlled with a remote or a phone app, and has 15 minutes of flight time, which is pretty good.

Apple pods

Real airpods

If you think your teen won’t lose them, buying the latest bluetooth airpods from Apple could make you the coolest mom or dad on the block.

They come with a case that can recharge the buds few times over before it needs to be charged, which is really handy for travel.

If the price on the latest pods is too high, look for previous generations, which look the same and can be half the price.

Your kids can keep up with the most popular songs and albums without running up a big iTunes bill with Amazon digital music. A family plan will keep the whole family musically up to date.

Ricoh is a handy camera for teens who want to try vr video and photography

A camera Q might make

Ricoh Theta SC Spherical Digital Camera Creative photographers and filmmakers will love this slim camera that shoots videos and surround panoramas, allowing kids to create simple VR media. It comes in four colors! For travel, consider the waterproof case, too

Teen charger

Their own charger

The teen who travels needs his or her own portable charger. I like this one from Lezchi because it’s slim, has a lot of juice and there are no loose wires to loose track of.

Plug it directly into an outlet to charge it up and use one of 3 attached wires to charge Samsung and Apple devices as well as some cameras and games. It also has a USB port in case you need an extra wire.

Shop: Here are more cell phone accessories Amazon shoppers find useful.

Vaburs phone case 1

A phone case + wallet

I admit that Teen Traveler bought one of thse Vaburs phone case wallets for herself and I liked it so much I bought one for myself.

The colors and designs are fun. The snaps keep money and cards secure. And so far they have protected our phones when we’ve dropped them. They’re a good value for the price.

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Handheld gadgets, drones, cool cameras and handy tech accessories are on the wish list of every kid, tween and teen. Here iare my best recommendations for gifts that travel.