Kids tracking watches for travel

Walking through Hyde Park London sporting his tracker watch

The thought of losing sight of your child in a busy city far from home is the stuff of nightmares. This is particularly true when you have small children or a child who is prone to wander.

Tracking watches are a good option for peace of mind which is why we chose to hire them from TicTockTrack for our recent international holiday.

What are tracker watches and what do they do?

Our TicTocTrack watches arrived in a box suitable for keeping them safe during travel

Tracker watches are a mobile device in the form of a watch. The have a SIM which connects them to a mobile network and are tracked using GPS.

While there are many different brands on the market, essentially, they all perform the same four major functions…

  • Track your child using GPS and an app on you smart phone or iPad
  • Allow your child to call you and you to call them
  • Set a ‘virtual fence’ around your child with alerts when the fence is breached
  • have an SOS call function

Our experience

The tracking watches even worked on top of Vesuvius

We hired two tracker watches through TicTocTrack (one for each child) and had two devices we could track them on… an iPhone and an iPad (one for each parent!).

When we received the watches I logged into the TicTocTrack app and set up the allowed phone numbers (you can enter up to six safe numbers and the watch can only make and receive calls to and from those nominated numbers). The watches come with the sim installed and ready to go (this might vary with different companies) so I just needed to test them to make sure we all knew how to use them properly. So far so good!

The first snag…

Our travel sims wouldn’t call the Australian sims in the watches… I purchased a couple of UK sims through SimsDirect for our trip not realising that I wouldn’t be able to ring the kids watches (which had Australian sims in them). I knew we couldn’t ring Australia but I didn’t realise we wouldn’t be able to ring any Australian numbers at all, even if the device containing the sim was in the same room as me! The watches could be used to call us though as they had international roaming activated, so that was a relief.

The second snag…

We couldn’t make call from the watches…When we set up the devices (watches, phone and iPad) on arrival in Rome it became pretty clear as soon as we tried to call our phone from the watches that we had a problem… all we got was a message (in Italian) that the number we were trying to call was blocked. We then tried to ring one watch from the other… we got the same message. So we checked with TicTocTrack (who I must say had great communication and were very helpful) and they checked all our settings and were not able to isolate the problem at first… it was a complex issue that took two weeks to resolve. Once that was fixed we had no other major issues.

The watches that worked, even when they didn’t

We could still track the watches from the app… While it was annoying not to have the ability for the kids to call us from the watches (because of the blocking issue… eventually resolved) or us being able to ring them from our phone (because of the sim issue), it wasn’t a complete loss. We still had the tracking function, which is really the primary role of the watch. This function worked reliably throughout our entire 5 week trip.

When we climbed Vesuvius, Morgan and I got back down a lot faster than Anj and Zarah. I used the app to check where they were because they were taking so long to get down!

Did we really NEED them?

There were no emergency situations when our child was missing and we needed to track or call them. Nor was I expecting that to actually happen!

But there was this one time when….

One child called me because they were stuck in the Earthquake Simulator at the Natural History Museum London. Surrounded by a class of much bigger students, he didn’t know how to get off and became scared. It was kinda overkill, but I’m glad he could call me and get help in a situation that, while he wasn’t unsafe or at risk of getting lost, he felt really scared.

On the whole…

I was really glad to have the tracker watches. Right or wrong, I could never have truly relaxed in certain locations without the them… I’ve had too many moments where my child has wandered off and I have no freaking idea where he is. Plus I know how far kids can get in a short space of time.

The kids loved them too…

My kids felt reassured that they could call us if they got lost (once the call function was working). They also loved the novelty of it. Both of them loved to monitor how many calories they had burned each day which started a whole conversation about healthy eating! They also loved being able to leave and receive voice messages to Grandma. Grandma could also log into the app and see where we were at anytime because I listed her as a user on the app.

Would I recommend them?

In short, yes. If you feel you would benefit from the peace of mind provided by being able to track and call your kids while traveling (or at home), then tracker watches are totally worth it. I also recommend you make sure you and your child are familiar with how to use the watch and app before your trip as you don’t want to be trying to work it all out in a stressful situation.

A note about battery life

The watch’s battery life lasted a good working day. We were usually out of the house by 9am and often, by the time we were heading home in the afternoon, the battery was low.

Make sure your child doesn’t turn the watch off…

It is important to note that the watches need to be switched on! My son would turn his off when the battery got low. This caused a problem when we really could’ve used the tracking function (We had separated into two groups… he went off to a toilet with my husband and there was a huge line up so it took them way way longer than I was expecting)

Usually by the end of the day the battery was low

Cost

There are now many tracking watches on the market and the biggest variation between them is the price. Its also important to remember that you are purchasing an ongoing SIM plan… just like you would with a phone.

A quick google search will show you these watches vary in cost from $30 to $400 but are usually about $150 – $300 (AUD). TicTocTrack sell watches for $199.95 (AUD) and offer a Telstra SIM plan of $19.95/month.

You may have the option, like we did, to hire instead of buy. If you live in Australia, the only company I can find who hires tracker watches is TicTocTrack. We paid only $35 to hire the watch for a month and that was all inclusive. I highly recommend this company as their pricing, communication and support is outstanding.

The main factor to consider when choosing a watch is the network carrier and the plan… and what kind of support they offer

The one big thing you want to take a very close look at when choosing between the tracker watches on the market is the mobile carrier and the ongoing monthly phone plan associated with the watch. Consider if the carrier has good coverage where you are traveling (can you get international roaming) and where you live (so you can use the watch when you get home). As with any device, ongoing support is also extremely important, I’m not sure what we would have done without the technical advice and troubleshooting support from TicTocTrack (via messenger).

Then make sure your travel SIM can call the watch!

You also need to consider what your strategy for communications will be on your trip and how that is going to interact with the watch’s SIM. If you are going to purchase a travel SIM you need to make absolutely sure it’s going to allow calls to the watch.

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