Travelling with a baby or toddler in tow is always an adventure, especially if you’re also trying to wrangle older children, luggage, and possibly even the family pet. If your family is setting out on a road trip and you plan on staying at a hotel or two, it simply adds more scenarios where your bub needs to be watched over.
Although the kids don’t know it, Mum doesn’t have eyes in the back of her head, and sometimes that’s what it takes to keep track of everyone!
A portable baby monitor is an excellent way to have an extra set of eyes on your baby while you’re driving, staying at a hotel, or even camping. A travel baby monitor is certainly convenient, but is it completely necessary?
Do you need a baby monitor while traveling?
As a mum who has gone on my share of road and camping trips with my children, I would have loved having a baby monitor for travel because they provide an added sense of security in so many ways. For example, we used to have a mirror that we’d put in front of our babies while driving. However, the mirror would always end up slipping with each bump in the road, and we could only use it with specific seats in our vehicles.
Travel baby monitors can be placed virtually anywhere in your vehicle, and they give you a much more defined image of your bub and whether or not they’re crying because they spit up all over or just dropped their dummy.
In addition to making car travel less stressful, portable baby monitors are also beneficial for keeping tabs on your baby while staying in a hotel. We always tried to get a suite while travelling with a baby because everyone got more sleep when we could put the bassinet in a separate area or room. The same applies to RV and tent camping as well. When baby’s well-rested, everyone’s well-rested! This can, however, mean you don’t have direct visual contact with your baby.
Features to Look for in a Good Baby Travel Monitor
Many portable baby monitors are similar, but some models are specifically made for car travel, whilst others are versatile enough for many different settings. Let’s take a look at what essential features make the best portable baby monitors for your next trip.
When you’re choosing the best baby monitor for travel, it’s nice to be able to adjust the audio. For example, you may not need the audio turned on if you’re using your monitor in the car. However, if your bub is separated from the rest of the family in a hotel or while camping, the sound needs to be turned up to hear any cries for feeding or changing.
You may also want the baby monitor to have two-way audio so your baby can be comforted by your voice, even if you’re not in the room. Some more advanced models can even play lullabies or white noise.
I recommend a range of at least 800-1000 ft – this is how far the parent unit can be from the baby unit. Baby monitors for cars obviously don’t need to extend as far, even if you’re travelling by limousine! However, if you’re planning on walking around your campsite during baby’s nap time or staying at a hotel or relative’s house, long-range baby monitors are definitely a plus. Of course, it’s also a plus if you plan on using your travel baby monitor in your home as well.
Baby monitors sure have come a long way from when my children were babies. I remember just having the option of an audio-only monitor, and the range was paltry compared to today’s models. Now, parents can have eyes on their infants at all times (for better or worse!).
Video travel baby monitors come in a range of screen sizes and definition, so choose one with a good enough image quality to set your fears to rest when you and your little one are apart. But remember, the bigger, clearer and brighter the screen, the quicker it will drain the battery.
We’d recommend only periodically checking the screen to save battery life where you’re not near to a charging unit. Better yet, baby monitors with audio-only will last even longer and are much more portable. You can stick them anywhere in baby’s room so not need to fuss about with crib mounts or finding a suitable shelf.
A portable baby monitor with cords dangling everywhere isn’t realistic or convenient for anyone and will only lead to frustration. No one needs any added stress while travelling, especially if you’re supposed to be on vacation! Your monitor should be relatively small so that you can pack it quickly into a suitcase or diaper bag when not in use. And of course, you want it to work without a power outlet for several hours.
Simple is better when it comes to choosing the best baby monitors for travel. Although it can be tempting to choose a video monitor that can connect to wi-fi or via an app on your cell phone, it’s an unrealistic choice if you’re planning on using it while camping.
Many cell phones have limited or no service in remote areas, and you don’t want to arrive at your campsite only to find out that you can’t use your baby monitor. I also don’t recommend connecting your monitor to the wi-fi at hotels or modern campsites, as the connection can be hacked.
We’ve purposeful not included any wi-fi baby monitors in our review and focus on ease of use – the last thing you need is instruction manuals while setting up a tent!
Car Monitors versus Other Portable Baby Monitors
I wanted to point out that baby monitors for cars are set up differently and offer different features from traditional video and audio monitors. Because of this, they aren’t a great option for anything other than car travel. However, if you only need a travel baby monitor for your vehicle during road trips, you’re all set!
A car baby monitor’s camera unit is connected to the front screen by a cord that runs the interior length of your car. The display screen can be affixed to your dash or front windshield, although some models are more secure than others. Most baby monitors for cars plug into the cigarette lighter of the vehicle (we haven’t found a USB option yet).
If you want to keep an eye on your bub for long car rides, I certainly recommend this kind of baby travel monitor. It works especially well if you have multiple children, as family road trips can become chaotic with everyone talking at once. It’s always nice to know if your bub’s cries require an immediate stop or if you can make it a few more miles without pulling over.
So let’s talk specifics now and our favourite baby travel monitors to take on vacation.
The Best Travel Baby Monitors of 2021
|Product||Name||Video & Talk Functions?||Power||Price|
|VTech VM819 Video Baby Monitor with 19Hour Battery Life||Yes - 2.8" screen|
|Up to 19 hrs, 29 hrs in audio-only mode||$$|
|Shynerk Car Seat Mirror and Camera Monitor||Yes , 120 degree camera||Car - through 12v lighter plug||$|
|HOSVIA 5-inch HD Baby Car Mirror and HD Monitor||Yes - 5" screen, 140 degree camera||Car - through 12v lighter plug||$$|
|Itomoro Baby Car Mirror with Camera||Yes - 4.3" screen, 120 degree camera||Car - through 12v lighter plug||$|
|FEISIKE Baby Mirror for Car with 4.3-inch HD Display||Yes - 4.3" screen, 140 degree camera||Car - through 12v lighter plug||$|
|Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor||Yes - 3.5" screen, 120 degree camera||6hr scrreen on or 10 hrs power saving mode||$$$|
|VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor||No - 2-way audio||9 - 16 hours (Rechargable)||$|
|Dragon Touch Baby Monitor, E40 Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio||Yes - 4.3" screen, 2-way talk||1500mAh rechargable battery 960ft range||$$|
|Upgraded VTech DM112-2 Audio Baby Monitor||No - audio only, 2 parent units||8 hrs - rechargable parent unit||$|
|TimeFlys Audio Baby Monitor||No - audio only|
|8 hrs - rechargable parent unit||$|
|Graco Audio Baby Monitor with Night Light||No - audio only||2 x AAA - baby & parent unit battery (not rechargeable)||$|
|ANMEATE Video Baby Monitor with Digital Camera||Yes - 2.4" display||8 hrs in Eco mode (Rechargeable)||$$|
|Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio||Yes - 5.5" display||12hr battery; 24 hrs without battery (Rechargeable)|
|HelloBaby Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio||Yes - 1 parent box can be paired with up to 4 cameras.||12 hrs on power saving, 8 hrs with screen on (Rechargeable)|
Pricing $ = Under $45USD , $$ = $45 to $80USD, $$$ = over $80USD
Our Top Choice: VTech VM819 Video Baby Monitor with 19Hour Battery Life
Why We Love It: The VTech Video Baby Monitor packs a lot of power in a small package, but it comes with plenty of bells and whistles. This portable baby monitor has an impressive 1000 foot range so that you can use it in almost any travel setting.
You can also use this monitor for several days before needing to plug it back in, as one charge can give you up to 19 hours of video streaming. I also like that no Wi-Fi or App is necessary for connection, which means your privacy and safety are guaranteed. This is the best choice for travelling families.
Cons: The video screen is about a third of the size of other video monitors. However, if that’s the trade-off for amazing battery life, I’ll take it!
Best Travel Baby Monitor for Cars: Shynerk Car Seat Mirror and Camera Monitor
Why We Love It: The Shynerk car baby monitor was designed with safety in mind, which is why the viewing screen can be securely affixed to the center console. There’s no need to keep turning around to check on your bub because the camera mirror provides you with flawless clarity. In addition, the camera mirror has both vertical and horizontal straps, which provide added stability and versatility. Night vision mode also means you can monitor your baby at any time of day.
Cons: The car seat mirror and monitor don’t come with any clips to attach the cable to your vehicle’s interior. Although installation is easy, having to figure out where to place the line is a minor inconvenience.
Other Portable Baby Monitors for Cars to Consider:
- HOSVIA 5-inch HD Baby Car Mirror and HD Monitor – largest screen we’ve found
- Itomoro Baby Car Mirror with Camera – widest adjustment to suit different tpes of cars and car seats
- FEISIKE Baby Mirror for Car with 4.3-inch HD Display – great tilt and clear image
Best Travel Baby Monitor for Hotels: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
Why We Love It: The Infant Optics portable baby monitor is perfect for at home or on the go. The parent monitor is small and lightweight, making it the ideal monitor to pack in your travel bag.
A good range of 700-foot makes it perfect for hotel rooms, and the long-lasting battery means you don’t have to worry about it running down in the middle of the night. Parents report a clear video and love that you can zoom in or attach a wide-angle lens if you want to see the whole of baby’s room.
Cons: The price point is on the higher side, making it a more expensive option if you’re planning to use it solely for travelling purposes. This is a great all-rounder though for home or away, if you only want to invest in one unit that “does the lot”.
Other Portable Baby Monitors for Hotels to Consider:
- VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor – much cheaper audio-only option with long battery life – great choice if you’re looking for wearable monitors.
- Dragon Touch Baby Monitor, E40 Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio – large screen size and two-way audio with a great 960 foot range. Great choice if you have twins, with an additional camera you can use the parent unit in split screen mode.
Best Travel Baby Monitor for Camping: Upgraded VTech DM112-2 Audio Baby Monitor
Why We Love It: If you’re planning on enjoying the simplicity of the outdoors on a camping trip, your travel baby monitor should be a reflection of that goal. The VTech audio baby monitor is all you’ll ever need for keeping tabs on your bub while you’re moving about the campsite. The considerable range offers you peace of mind, and the rechargeable battery offers up to 8 hours of connection without needing to be plugged back in.
Cons: This VTech model lacks a few frills, such as the two-way communication feature. Since the rechargeable batteries only last for a maximum of 8 hours, you may also need to bring a charging brick or find a place at your campsite with a plugin.
Other Portable Baby Monitors for Camping to Consider:
Best Value Travel Baby Monitor: ANMEATE Video Baby Monitor with Digital Camera
Why We Love It: The ANMEATE Video Baby Monitor offers some attractive features at a reasonable price. The range is almost as good as many of the higher-end models, and it also provides two-way talking. Additionally, the high-resolution screen has HD night vision as well as a temperature sensor, so you can feel confident that your bub is safe and well cared for. If using in eco mode, the battery lasts for 8 hours, which is on par with other video travel baby monitors.
Cons: Although the picture transmission is generally very clear, it does get grainy when zoomed all the way in. The camera also doesn’t rotate or pan around baby’s room, so this could be a potential problem if you value this feature in a portable baby monitor.
Other Portable Baby Monitors Also Worth A Look:
- Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio – one of the best for clear video, 720p camera with range up to 960 feet. The large screen makes it not as portable so we’ve not included in our top picks
- HelloBaby Video Baby Monitor with Camera and Audio – not the biggest screen but has plenty of added features including temperature monitoring, infrared night vision, lullaby mode and ability to add extra camera units.
Looking for more baby & toddler travel advice?
We have travelled the world extensive with our three children since they were born for the past 10 years – and gathered A LOT of handy tips along the way!
We share them all here with you on the Globetrotters blog so you can become confident world travellers too.
- Our baby packing list 0-12 months can be found here
- Our best baby travel advice can be found here
- Our best toddler travel advice can be found here
- Our best pregnancy travel advice can be found here
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