Travel truly is my favorite gift, but cool tech gadgets come in as a close second. Why? Because combining tech and travel makes life so much easier — and fun.  While attending a recent Tech and Travel event in Atlanta, I hosted a couple dozen of my favorite friends (who happen to have their own web sites about tech or travel). We all learned about several of the hottest options when it comes to tech for this holiday. After attending the recent Tech and Travel event in Atlanta, here are my top tech and travel holiday picks, from cameras to home security systems to earbuds.

Tech and Travel Event: Perfect Pairing in Atlanta

Tech and Travel: Perfect Pairing in Atlanta Photo Courtesy: Desiree Miller, FamilyFun Traveling Mom

Dishing on Tech and Travel

Combining Tech and Travel takes away some of the stress of the holidays.

Think about it: great cameras capture travel memories and today’s technology offers up some lightweight, but incredibly easy-to-carry options. At home, cool gadgets monitor everything from security to leaky faucets, and today’s technology keeps an eye on your home while you’re away. And what’s the holidays without fun tech for great stocking stuffers and hostess gifts? See how it all ties together?

Heck, throw in a great hotel close to home where you can send the relatives who don’t necessarily want to crash in your basement and, well, you have those holidays wrapped up.

I can’t dish up the yummy food we had over lunch, but I can share the details of our fun here at Traveling Mom.

Appetizer: Recording Travel Memories

First Up: my appetizer, if you will, picture taking/memory making devices.

  • The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300.  This is the mac-daddy of lightweight cameras with heavy duty powers. It retails for about $500 but features all the bells and whistles of a camera worth twice the price. (Many of our Traveling Moms are already a fan of Panasonic. Just saying.) This Panasonic also includes a fast F2.8 aperture with 600mm, which is high-tech talk for saying it can clearly capture moving subjects at a high shutter speed, even at a long distance.  It shoots video in 4k,  the same quality used by broadcast television. Yet this camera is also super lightweight and durable.  Bottom line: it’s an all-around great camera for sports, outdoors, events — and of course, when traveling.  COST: $500
  • Have Portable Printer Will Travel? That’s what I’m talking about: The HP Sprout Portable Printer. Take your photos from your phone or tablet and print them out on the go with the HP Sprocket Photo Printer. This  handheld compact printer virtually goes anywhere. Use Bluetooth connectivity to create 2×3 sticky-back snapshots. Add a pop of personality to your prints with the HP Sprocket App, allowing customization with borders, stickers, filters and more.  COST: $129.99.

The Main Meal: Smart Home Capabilities

Security. Yeah, that’s a big one when traveling because who wants to worry about what’s happening at home when you’re trying to enjoy your holidays AWAY with the family?

  • Alarm.coms smart home technology is easy to use through your phone app and makes your home safer, smarter and more efficient.  Control your smarter home security system and a broad range of automation devices like smart thermostats, HD video, locks and lights through a single screen on Alarm.com’s family of mobile apps.  The system alerts you about activity when you’re gone and responds automatically to protect your family when there’s an emergency at home. COST: Depends on the service provider. Alarm.com doesn’t set pricing), but about the same as a regular security system:  $100-$200 up front and $35-$45 per month. This includes Alarm.com’s technology, professional installation, ongoing tech support and 24/7 monitored security.
  • Honeywell’s Lyric Round Thermostat: The Lyric lets you adjust the temperature in your home through Siri or Alexa.  With the Lyric app, you can set temperature schedules, select vacation mode, check the weather, and even get alerts, like when your home’s air filters need to be changed. COST: $199
  • Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector This is a great one for the winter! Want to be alerted while a water situation is HAPPENING (instead of after the damage has wreaked havoc with your home)? Yes, please. No bigger than a hockey puck, the Lyric Detector and its included cable sensor easily sits under sinks, near appliances, close to sump pumps, or other places with potential for water issues. When it senses water, extreme humidity, or temperature, the Lyric Detector emits an audible alert, and if you’re not home, it also sends an alert through the Lyric App. Be in the know when water or humidity issues strike at home with the Lyric Water Leak and Freeze Detector.  The cable sensor will alert you via an audible alert, and the Lyric App, when sending water, humidity, or extreme temperature. COST: $79
Light up your moments with these cool tech and travel gadgets.

Light up your moments with these cool tech and travel gadgets. Photo Courtesy: Desiree Miller, FamilyFun Traveling Mom

  • Lighting: Philips Hue  How cool would it be to have lights that support your routine each day—offering natural light to help you wake up gently and go to sleep peacefully? That’s what Philips Hue White Ambiance starter kit offers. It includes four pre-set light settings, including some to help you energize in the morning and relax in the evening with warm white light. You can access the settings on your smart phone or with the Philips Hue wireless dimmer switch. COST: $129.99
  • Remote Blinds Lutron Caseta Lutron’s Caseta Wireless smart home system allows you to control lights, shades and your thermostat remotely.  It’s easy to install and doesn’t require re-wiring. You can use voice activation via Siri or Amazon Alexa, your smart device or the handheld Pico Remote to turn the lights on/off or dim them.  COST: starting at $140.

Dessert: Stocking Stuffers and Hostess Gifts

Go ahead and load up on these under $50 affordable holiday stocking stuffers including the ClarityHD High-Performance Earbuds from Monster Photo

Go ahead and load up on these under $50 affordable holiday stocking stuffers including the ClarityHD High-Performance Earbuds from Monster Photo Courtesy: Desiree Miller, FamilyFun Traveling Mom

  • The ClarityHD High-Performance Earbuds from Monster were designed for people who use the earbuds found in their smartphone boxes (hand raised high here). Monster believes that those consumers (me, and probably you, too!) deserve better sound and comfort.  There’s advanced construction with reinforcement at critical stress points, plus, they’re ergonomically designed with multiple ear tips for a better fit. COST: $39.95
  • The SuperStar HotShot is a small speaker with a big attitude. The ultra-portable wireless speaker comes with a carabiner hook to it can easily attach to any bag, belt loop, etc. and can be enjoyed anywhere. Integrated speakerphone for effortless hands-free calling Connect via Bluetooth or NFC, enabling users to pair it to any other NFC-compatible device with a simple tap A 3.5mm stereo analog input offers further connectivity with any audio source. COST: $49.95
Stocking Stuffers under $50? Traveling Mom has your holiday shopping covered.

Stocking Stuffers under $50? Traveling Mom has your holiday shopping covered. Photo Courtesy: Desiree Miller, FamilyFun Traveling Mom

  • Otterbox uniVERSE Case System for your smartphone, complete with additional storage for photos. The uniVERSE Case System outfits iPhones with a slim, protective OtterBox case that transforms by attaching a variety of accessories from leading brands. Add camera lenses, connect a battery, attach a speaker, hunt for heat leaks with thermal imaging, accept new payment types, and store more media. (The latter is my personal favorite perk of this case—just buy the SanDisk attachment and you are good to go!). The case is currently available for iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. COST: $49.95. Modules sold separately starting at $19.95

Finale: Home Away From Home

And the icing on the cake? The Home away from Home for your Guests who want their own space—or, your staycation spot for yourself when you need an escape close to home is (drum rolls please): the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown.

Your staycation spot when you need an escape close to home is (drum rolls please): the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown.

Your staycation spot when you need an escape close to home is (drum rolls please): the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown. Photo Courtesy: Desiree Miller, FamilyFun Traveling Mom

Located smack-dab in heart of Atlanta, the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown recently underwent major renovations, updating much of its décor, making it even more comfortable for your holiday guests who you might not have room for in your own home.  However, once you see the garden courtyard, complete with a heated indoor pool, you may want to crash here yourself for a few nights. This Atlanta hotel is the ideal getaway in the dead of winter.

Family Packages at the Sheraton Atlanta Downtown

Plus, because it’s so close to all the downtown Atlanta action, you can take advantage of some cool family packages, including the following:

  • Hawks Game Night Room Type: CDK or CDQ (Club Deluxe King or Queen), Complimentary appetizer with the purchase of any dinner entrée in Fandangles, Complimentary self-parking for one (1) vehicle, Access to Sheraton Club  ** Game tickets are your responsibility.
  • Family Movie Night In Room Type: 1BQ, One (1) complimentary movie Popcorn, Six (6) cans of assorted Coca-Cola beverages, One (1) large Pizza, Customized kids pamphlet listing kid-friendly attractions in the area, Complimentary self-parking for one (1) vehicle

Between all these tech and travel options, it’s easy to say “I have the holidays handled.” You are welcome.

Join in on Twitter for fun chat and prizes!

Join us and Techlicious.com on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at 9PM ET/ 6PM PT as we share your favorite gadgets, learn about some cool new ones, and pick up tips for making your holiday travel more enjoyable. We’ll cover:

  • Stocking stuffers: Tech gifts don’t have to be big and expensive. We share our picks for gifts under $50 and small gifts to stick in your loved one’s stocking.
  • Make your home smarter: From lights that know when you’ve pulled up in the driveway to cameras that let you know when a package has arrived, a smart house can provide peace of mind when you’re home or away.
  • How to take better holiday photos: Whether it’s the official family holiday photo or candid shots your kids take over the holidays, there are many ways to create and share memories. We share our tips.
  • Secret perks to ask for when you stay at a hotel: Just ask for what you want at the concierge at hotels like the Sheraton Atlanta. They’re prepped with kids books, jogging maps and much more to make your stay memorable.

How to join the conversation

Date: Thursday, November 3, 2016
Time: 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET
Follow hashtag #TNTATL on Twitter

Hosts: @Techlicious @TravelingMoms @CTATech @SheratonAtlanta

Special Prizes

monsterclarityhdhighperformanceearbudsDuring our chat we’ll be giving away great prizes:

  • Three (3) Monster ClarityHD High Performance Earbuds ($34.95 ARV): The Monster ClarityHD High Performance Earbuds deliver premium sound quality at an incredible value. The earbuds have reinforcement at critical stress points for enhanced durability and are ergonomically designed and come with multiple ear tips for a better fit.
  • sheratonatlantaOne (1) Two-night stay with Hawks Game Night package* at the Sheraton Atlanta hotel ($500 ARV): Superbly located in the heart of Atlanta and showcasing comprehensive renovations, the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel provides the perfect backdrop for your family getaway. Experienced, empowered associates deliver friendly, intuitive service – and earn glowing reviews from guests on TripAdvisor. Spacious, pet-friendly suites and an intimate, easily accessible lobby minimize travel stress – allowing you and your family to focus on fun. And make sure to pack your bathing suit. Located within the garden courtyard, there is a heated indoor pool, which provides the perfect setting for year-round family fun.Hawks Game Night package includes:
    • Room Type: Club Deluxe King or Queen
    • Complimentary appetizer with the purchase of any dinner entrée in Fandangles.
    • Complimentary self-parking for one (1) vehicle.
    • Access to Sheraton Club

    *Tickets to be purchased at Guest’s discretion. Not the responsibility of the hotel.

Use the widget below for your chance to win! To be eligible to win you must enter through the widget and participate in the Twitter party using #TNTATL. Tell your friends for extra chances!

Official Rules

We will randomly select four (4) winners from the entries. No purchase is necessary to win. Void where prohibited. U.S. residents 18+ only. Giveaway ends 11/3/16 at 9:55pm ET. Click here for the full rules.

[Image credit: [Traveling as gift via Shutterstock, Monster, Sheraton Atlanta]

#TNTATL Twitter Chat: Tech & Travel for the Holidays

Perfect Pairings are these Tech and Travel gadgets for the Holidays