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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

“Go BIG” Geek Gear! Tips for Taking “Tech” on the Road

TRACI — Ladies; the following post is a cautionary tale about what happens when you marry the former President of the high school A/V Club.  These days, you can find my husband Matt trolling the aisles of Best Buy on a Saturday night, ogling cell phone accessories.  Apparently, yesterday was “Embrace Your Inner Geek Day.” And so Matt popped open the champagne and polished this blog post about the toys we take on our “Go BIG” trips…


MATT — So whenever we take a trip, I am tapped as the family Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that we are digitally prepared for our journey. Here’s what we bring and some tips for packing lightly but providing maximum technology…

Technology for travel

If the lights dim in your hotel room, it's probably because we're drawing power from the room next door.

Navigation & Communication:

  • Garmin Nüvi 1250 (aptly named and affectionately known by the family as “nüvi” – for directions & traffic)
        TIP: Make sure you have all the addresses for each of the locations pre-loaded, pre-printed or send an e-mail to yourself with that information and put it on your smartphone. The GPS is only as good as the address or coordinates, so know where you are going

    (before you leave)

      . All of this makes for less bickering, trust me.
  • Motorola Droid + charging cable (USB cable + AC Adapter/Charger)
    Backup navigation via the Android phone:

  • Pink Blackberry 8350 Curve (Traci affectionately refers to her as “Pinkberry”) + Car charging cable
  • Red Dell Mini 9 (named “Ruby”, of course) + Laptop AC Adapter + matching Red Dell Bluetooth Travel mouse (for social media & blogging purposes)
  • MyPlace Cozy personal workstation with built-in cushion (for working on the laptop on the road) + lightweight, thin, gel mouse pad


  • 9″ Phillips DVD Player w/ built in iPod dock+ both Car & AC Adapters/Chargers
      TIP: Make sure you pack lots of DVDs (in fact get an old CD case and bring them all), you never know what the kids will be in the mood to watch.
  • 80GB 6th Generation iPod (Classic)
  • 8GB 5th Generation iPod Nano
      TIP: Load both the iPods with audiobooks, podcasts, games, music, videos, etc. the day before the trip, so it feels like they have enough “content” for the trip.
  • Nintendo DSi (handheld game console) + AC Adapter/Charger
      TIP: Have your children periodically stop playing on the tiny screen(s) and look out the window to enjoy the view on your trip, otherwise they might get car sick)
  • LeapFrog Leapster2 handheld learning console (because it has a volume control and headphone port)
      TIP: Turn the volume on low before you get in the car or offer the child the chance to wear headphones; you’ll thank me!)
  • 6′ 3.5 mm stereo male-to-male extension for car stereo auxiliary audio input jack to device(s)

Additional Equipment:

  • Canon PowerShot SD960 ISdigital camera (for taking high quality photos and HD Video to preserve memories of your trip, or for posting to our “Go BIG” blog)
      TIP: Make sure you fully charge the camera battery(ies) and bring an extra memory card.
  • 2 “over the head” earphones/headphones for the car (one for each child – of course)
  • DC/AC Converter (inverter) for the car – gives the ability for regular AC devices to be plugged into the car’s DC power ports)
  • 6 Foot extension cord w/ 3 grounded outlets (trust me on this one)
  • small power strip with 6 outlets (in order to charge everything up overnight in the hotel room)
  • 2 “mini” USB cables (also for charging and syncing devices)
  • Western Digital My Passport 150 GB external hard drive (loaded with all the itunes music, movies and podcasts) for additional backup
  • an iPod sync cable (also for aforementioned overnight syncing/charging)
  • Backup batteries – 4 AAA and 4 AA (if you’ve ever been on a trip with a device or kids toy that won’t power, you feel my pain)
  • LED flashlight (hey, you never know)

Mazda CX-9 InteriorThe “Go Big” Vehicle:

I would like to draw your attention to Traci’s earlier post about our “official” vehicle (a Mazda CX-9 Touring) titled “Mom Misses Minivan“. I’m just glad it has:

  • A cup holder that fits my extra large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (say it with me kids, french vanilla, milk and sugar)…
  • Integrated Bluetooth hands-free wireless technology (just in case a call should come in or need to be made)
  • Built in 3.5 mm audio jack (for streaming Pandora from the phone or listening to podcasts on the iPod)
  • Heated seats (my back needs a little warmth to stay limber)
  • A comforatble ride (so some people can sleep, like my wife – always)
  • 3 power outlets (2 up front and one in the back-back – to keep all of these gadgets running!)

All this and we haven’t even left yet, I’m exausted! Let’s unpack!

As a former tow truck driver, I feel it necessary to provide this public service announcement and tips:

Check the car:

  • Try to fill up the car with gas the night before you leave (one less thing to do before you hit the road).
  • Always check the car’s vital fluids (oil, coolant, windshield washer, transmission, etc.)
  • Check the tire pressure (buy yourself a good tire gauge – proper inflation saves lives, tire wear and gas)
  • Check to make sure your license, registration, insurance and roadside assistance papers and information are current, present and in order.

Enjoy your trip!


  1. Tina said,
    July 15, 2010 @ 8:14 am

    We got a Nuvi thingy while on the “big ass trip” in June and we still argued over the directions it provided in the Bronx, in the driving rain, on the day of the Puerto Rico Day Parade. However, we put our address in and told it to get us home and it took us down through NJ, PA, WV, MD, VA all the way down, in complete avoidance of the I-95 Corridor. Worth every penny.

  2. elmer said,
    July 15, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

    nice blog matt !

    Looks like you are the fellow electronics fan (no, no GEEK here) …. lovin the yellow Best Buy sign in the distance calling you

    Yes, the GPS just keeps the arguments to a minimum but NOT totally gone! one thing I have found to do was check it against google maps … and not so blindly go without checking that the dang thing takes you thru NYC from MD to Boston… silly way to go ….. $8 through the bridge toll ….dang GPS go around the CITY !!!! No I didn’t want to see the BRONX… Learned the hard way check your whole course … even I knew going towards upstate NYC was better …. on they way back went thru Scranton, PA vs toll city down I-95

    on the computers yes, true no other way to download the pics ! But apple AIr book is my pal … nope no nickname

    SUV Truck .. nope no minivan both of us refuse to go MV – American of course – GMC Envoy

    by the way still waiting for VERIZON to get the apple IPOD in January … $400 here we go ….

  3. Jennifer said,
    July 22, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    Ha! Fun list of “necessities” for any road trip. I’d (literally) be lost without my GPS.

  4. Bernie said,
    August 27, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

    Glad I finally checked out this blog!

    I never go anyplace (not even the coffee shop) without my trusty mini-travel surge protector / USB charger:
    Found it at OfficeMax for $25.

    Sorry, I am anti-GPS though. I have my own paleo-tech version:

    Looks like you are having fun, Traci–way to involve the spouse, too! Take care.