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GPS Trackers for Travelling: 5 things to look for and when to use them

Whether you're crossing continents or taking a small trip, travelling can be a fantastic experience, but having your luggage stolen or your safety jeopardised can quickly pop your vacation bubble.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

Wherever your destination and whatever the reason for your travels, your safety and the safety of those you love should be your top priority. In most cases, you’ll never have to worry, but in some scenarios, it’s simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. GPS trackers for children that work abroad can help make those unfortunate situations less dangerous and in many cases, less stressful. Here's a quick guide on what to look for.

1. Find a small, portable tracker

For the convenience and comfort of your child or loved one, you probably want a tracker that’s small and discrete. This way, you can place it inside a backpack, or clip it onto clothing. Some trackers also offer accessories such as watch straps which can work well with young children.

2. Try to find a device with Global coverage

Finding out that your tracker doesn’t work in the country you’re visiting is a pain. The best way to avoid this is by purchasing a 4G GPS tracker with a 2G fallback option and an international SIM card. Most countries have either 4G, 2G or both and will be keeping one or the other around for the foreseeable future (at least 10 years). The same cannot be said for 3G, which is soon to be turned off in many places.  You may have heard that some countries have or are discontinuing support for 2G (USA, Australia…). This means 2G GPS trackers won’t be the best choice for international travel, but it’s important to note that lots of places still have better 2G coverage than 4G, so really for the best of all worlds, you want a device that can do both.

Photo by Jeremy McKnight

3. Look for the "indoor location" feature (or WPS)

Many trackers offer outdoor tracking, which is great while at a park or on the beach, but children often wander off indoors, such as at shopping malls or supermarkets. Look out for trackers that offer WPS (WiFi Positioning System) as satellite positioning (GPS) doesn't work well indoors if you plan on spending a fair amount of time inside.

4. Battery life: more is better

Having another device to worry about charging on vacation can be a nuisance. Trackers come with a variety of battery life’s ranging from hours to months. Finding a tracker with long battery life also means that it will be ready and working should you need it.

5. Usability and support

A good GPS tracker will have a useful monitoring feature; this will often be a web portal or an app. Unsurprisingly a GPS tracker with an app is often the preferred option as you can track movements and receive alerts through your smartphone. You may also want to find a device which has online support, as for many devices, taking them to a new country can cause issues with settings, so find a device with an easy to use app and good technical support.

BONUS: Look for a tracker with an SOS or panic button

Should you or your loved one find themselves in a precarious situation, having a tracker with an SOS/panic button could be lifesaving.  This feature will instantly alert chosen individuals of your location, some trackers even have the option to notify emergency services. If your tracker comes with an app, these alerts would be sent straight to their phone, making them aware of the situation immediately.

Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul

When should you use a GPS tracker for travelling?

GPS Trackers for Backpackers

The adventure and spontaneity of backpacking are why it’s so popular among many, including retired parents and gap-year students. But those back home always want to know your location, and that’s why a small GPS tracker may be useful.

Having a GPS tracker with you will avoid excessive communication asking of your whereabouts. This can be of particular benefit if you’re somewhere with a weak signal and are unable to respond to messages.

Our smallest GPS tracker, the Zero is our most popular product for travelling families, backpackers and cyclists alike.

Tracking Luggage Abroad

Waiting at Baggage Reclaim, watching the empty the conveyor belt and realising that your luggage has been lost can create a grey cloud over your trip, or having your luggage stolen can often turn into an unsolved mystery.

The bad news is that a GPS tracker will not prevent your luggage from getting lost or stolen, but it will be able to locate exactly where it is. Having to be reliant upon airline staff and local authorities can be time-consuming and confusing, so knowing where your luggage is at all times can give you peace of mind.

Lost luggage can often take a while to be returned to you, and are sometimes stored in metal cases which are known to drain the battery life of most trackers, it’s therefore important to make sure your new device can at least last a few weeks. That way you’ll be able to keep tabs on your luggage until its back in your possession.

Some lost luggage can end up in a completely different continent, so you should look for a tracker that works internationally. Finding a tracker that already contains a SIM card that can roam across many networks in different countries will be handy if you out find your luggage is on the other side of the world.


Why we think our Lightbug Zero is great for travelling

Unsurprisingly perhaps, it ticks all the boxes:

  1. Small and lightweight
  2. Easy to attach
  3. Works globally
  4. Good battery life
  5. Easy to use app and great support
  6. Panic / SOS button built-in

The Lightbug Zero is smaller than a car key fob, can be discretely attached to your bag, clothes or even shoes, works in over 150 countries and has an amazing battery life of up to 1 year. The only thing it's missing is a watch strap attachment (and we're working on that!)

Another option, if unlike us you have a bit of spare room in your luggage, you might also want to consider our really long life GPS tracker, the LightBug Pro, which has a battery life of up to 15 years.

Safe Travels!

Lightbug Zero
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About Efia Davis