5 pocket sized travel tools


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By E. Adam Porter


RVing with your family is a priceless way to make lifelong memories. But with more people comes more stuff. Tools, gadgets and paraphernalia of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention that baffling law of kid physics—the smaller they are, the more stuff they seem to carry in their pockets. With that in mind, here are 5 pocket-sized family travel tools that can help make your life easier both in and out of the RV.


1—Rand McNally TripMaker® RVNDTM 7710

What did that sign say? Uh oh…can’t go that way in a rig this big! Steep grades, sharp turns, narrow lanes and even low bridges—all of these can turn an “easy way” into the very worst kind of dead end. And it often happens with very little advanced warning. There you are, grinding your teeth and executing a perfect 20-point U-turn, when, from way in the rear you hear: “Hey, Dad why are we turning around?” “Are we ever gonna get there?” All the while your GPS, which forgot to clue you in, is singing: “recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.” Enter the TripMaker® 7710. Billed as the “first GPS designed specifically for RVs” this 7” touchscreen device offers RV-friendly routing based on your rig’s specs. This particular model can also be set in “car mode” for use in tow vehicles. Additional features include helpful extras such as dump station locations and campground finders.


2—Portable Solar Battery Charger

With Dad, Mom and a couple of kids, the sheer number of electronic devices necessary for life as we know it can become mind-boggling. And, of course, all of them need charging all the time. A pocket-sized (4.4” x 2.25”) solar powered small electronics charger like this one is perfect for keeping handheld electronics like cell phones, iPods, tablets and other devices fully loaded and ready to work. Best of all, this gadget is very portable. So, whether you are in the RV, the car or on a hike, when someone’s device needs a charge, just plug it in and go. This Lenmar unit comes with an AC adapter, 12V DC car adapter and a USB output. You can also purchase larger solar models that will keep your vehicle batteries or electric small appliances up and going too.


3—Portable Hard Drive

If you like movies and music or love to take digital photos, you know that media storage can quickly fill up your laptop’s available memory. When an RV full of people all want to bring their favorite music, movies and TV shows, that space is at a premium. And when all those folks are also snapping countless digital photos, it’s only a matter of time before the storage wars begin. Solve this problem with a pocket-sized portable flash drive. Whether you are downloading your media from iTunes or Amazon or just making digital copies of your favorite DVDs, storing them on a portable hard drive makes taking your favorite media with you easy. While the Western Digital Passport is a good choice, I have used SeaGate’s GoFlex drives for years without an issue. We carry four—one for video, one for photos and our music, one for the kids’ movies, shows and audio books and one backup drive for the laptop. A hardshell travel case is also highly recommended.


4— Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE

The Internet is fast becoming a must for RV baby boomers, but if you are traveling with a family, WiFi is practically a necessity. Yes, it’s wonderful to get out into nature, but it’s even better when you can do so and still stay connected with the outside world. News, weather reports, destination descriptions, maps, blogs, and social media—the reasons for wanting WiFi are endless. But, aside from camping out at McDonalds or the local library, what can you do when there is no WiFi to be found? Mobile hotspots are the answer. According to PCMag Verizon’s 4G LTE currently offers the best service. The cons? No unlimited data plan, but 5G per month should be plenty for the average user.


5—Coleman Quad LED Lantern

Rechargeable LED lanterns are the perfect tool for checking out “weird noises” outside the RV, night trips to the bathhouse or troubleshooting your rig after dark. They also make excellent night lights. Not only can this versatile lantern shine up to 190 lumens for up to 75 hours, but each side of the lantern is its own detachable lamp. So, if someone needs to visit the facilities, or if each kid wants a light to read by, all they need to do is pop one of the lights out of the frame. The Coleman Quad operates as a hands-free light and up to four independent flashlights at the same time! The units are water resistant and the LED lights run cool, so you won’t get any singed parts from bumping into this lantern.


What are some of YOUR favorite pocket-sized family travel tools?

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I'm a storyteller. Fortunately, that is also what I get paid to do. Born on a boat and bred on the back of a horse I tend to see the world a bit differently ... and I sway when I walk.

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