The Kindle Fire – My Favorite for Traveling Kids

I have been writing this article in my head for the last few months. When Kindle Fire 7” tablets went on sale for Cyber Monday in 2015, my FIL bought the girls each one. At $33 he said they were too cheap not to buy. He also got them the bouncy foam cases and clear screen covers that have made them almost kid proof (the only way they could break them at this point would be to drop them in a bucket of water). I was looking forward to my daughter getting more screen reading time, since we can’t find many books in English here and I wanted her to practice. Fast forward to July, when my FIL bought my son his own Kindle Fire, and sent memory upgrades for each of the three tablets. Here are the many reasons why Kindle Fire is the best tablet for the money, and my absolute favorite tablet for travel.

traveling-kids-with-kindle-fire

Portability

My kids are able to take their Kindles and use them when they want. They are light and easy to put in and out of a backpack. This is great, because when you go through airport security, they have to be taken out of the backpacks. I usually keep all three together in my bag before security, that way I grab all three in one motion (yes they are that light), and distribute them to the kids as we are gathering all of our bags once we’re through to the other side of the metal detector.

Battery Life & Quick Recharge Time

The battery life is up to 7 hours. I find that to be plenty of time, even if we are longer trips. The kids will play with their Kindle, take a break and color, eat, and then play on it a little more. And if you can find a place to plug in when you’re in the airport or wherever, you can get one of these with a usb plug so that you can charge all your devices at once. I like this option because I can use it in the US and Europe… all I have to do is switch the plug. Just make sure that the plug you have is able to convert the power in volts so you don’t ruin your devices. I use the iClever BoostCube and have never had any problems with it. The Fire Tablet 7” only takes 3.3 hours to fully charge, so if you can plug it in for 30 minutes you will get around 2 more hours of play time.

The Price

You cannot beat the price of this tablet. With the memory update for 64 GB at only $20, you can make your Kindle like an iPad for only $70. Add the case for $25 and the screen protector for $7, and you have a really awesome kids tablet for $102 before taxes.

Amazon Underground – Actually Free Apps

There are hundreds of apps that you can get for free through Amazon’s program “Amazon Underground,” which means you can amass a pretty great collection of games without spending any extra money. The games offered in this program change, but once you have purchased them through Amazon Underground, they stay free on your devices, even if they aren’t offered for free any longer. To find these games, search under the “Apps & Games” part of the Amazon drop down menu, and then select “Actually Free Apps” under “Amazon Underground” under “Refine by.”

amazon underground actually free apps

Amazon FreeTime

FreeTime is a program that lets you severely limit what your child is able to access on the Kindle. The only problem with FreeTime is that is difficult to exit, which makes sense since you don’t want your kids to be able to exit if they are small. You go through your apps, movies, and books and can add them to individual FreeTime profiles that you make for each child. The only reason I don’t use FreeTime for my younger kids is because I want them to be able to watch Netflix on their Kindles, and that doesn’t work with FreeTime. Again, that makes sense because with the Netflix App, you can’t limit access to adult Netflix profiles.

Parental Controls

The parental controls on the Kindle Fire are robust. You can limit your kids on almost everything. My one major complaint is that the home screen on my kids’ kindles automatically loads images of my most recently acquired books. Most of the books are not for my kids, nor do I want them to have access to them. I have to manually go through each of their kindles and delete the books from their home screens. I have researched a way to avoid this, but so far everyone agrees that there is no way to get rid of this annoyance. You can also a curfew and choose which days it works. It allows you to set the earliest time they are able to use the device, and when the device will automatically stop their access. There is also the ability to provide a unique code for the kindle that is separate from the parental code. I love that, because it keeps my 4-year-old from messing up my 9-year-old’s reading and game progress.

Downloadable Content

You have the option to download movies and television shows onto your device after you have purchased them. I love this option because it means the kids still have access to their video content when the internet is not available.

So there you have it, my argument as to why I love the Kindle Fire 7” for my kids. I feel like it has all of the appeal of an iPad, but at 1/4 the price, and the price I gave you includes accessories.

JVC Kidphones

My Headphones Pick

We found these JVC Kidsphones at the airport in Gatwick. The large plastic headband and cushioned ear area make these durable and comfortable. Coincidentally, they come in colors that match the Kindle Kids Cases, which makes my kids happy.

Do you have any experience traveling with a Kindle Fire 7″ for your kids? What does your pro & con list look like?

Happy travels,

Kristin

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My Personal Saga with the Kindle Fire

I want to start off by saying that I’m not totally dissing the Kindle Fire. I just don’t think it’s a good choice for expats of the United States because of the personal experience I had, and the hassle associated with dealing with product problems. Since this is a travel blog, and a lot of people that read SER live outside the US for chunks of time (or all the time) I just wanted to bring this to your attention so you can make a more informed decision before you purchase a Kindle Fire. From all of the people I have talked to with other types of Kindles, they are very happy customers.

My mother in law sent a very fun surprise over for Christmas as a joint present for Travis (my hubby) and I. I was shocked when I discovered the package contained a Kindle Fire. As a BA graduate in Comparative World Literature, you can imagine that I love, love, love to read. You would not believe how many times I have heard the sentence, “You would really love a Kindle, that would be perfect for someone like you,” in the last three years. It is really hard to find books in English in non-English speaking countries, and if you do, they are super expensive. This offered me a very convenient way of purchasing a book in English to read when I have time.

I have to say that initially I was extremely impressed by the reading aspect of the Kindle Fire, and the full color, touch screen was a really nice extra. I didn’t really like using it for the internet because it was super slow, but I read online that most people had a very similar performance issue, so I didn’t think it was any major defect. The movies also never worked, but I read at least 10 books before it froze.

Then one day, three weeks after opening it, it turned off suddenly (luckily just after I had finished reading a book), and would not turn on again. I went online and tried everything the website recommend. Finally I called and went through the different resets, including the hard reset that takes an hour, all to no avail. I was bummed, but I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to replace it. Wrong. Three very long phone calls over two weeks and a trip to the post office later, these are the facts I learned that I wanted to pass on to all you expats and internationals out there about the Amazon Kindle Fire:

-The Kindle Fire was not released outside of the US (yet… it will probably be released in the UK soon), so they are not going to ship a replacement outside of the US for it. That means you have to ship it back to someone in the US, and then they have to ship it back for you, proceeded by your friend or family member having to ship it back to wherever you live. (This was the biggest bummer for me because I don’t even want to think about how much my mother in law will have spent on shipping all together)

-If your Kindle Fire stops working before your one month trial Prime Membership is up, tough cookies. They are not going to extend it or renew it unless you pay. I was right in the middle of a borrowed book which I will now have to buy if I want to finish it.

-You only have 30 days to return the damaged Kindle Fire, so if you are going to send it in, you basically have to send it back to the US before you call for a replacement because you don’t want to get charged for a broken Kindle Fire due to living rather far away.

-They are not going to compensate you in any way for the inconvenience of having to spend $50 plus shipping it back and forth, even though during my first call I was offered a gift card, which they later un offered because, quote, “We don’t want to.”

So there you have it, my personal reason for not recommending the Kindle Fire for people living outside of the US. Maybe your Kindle Fire will never freeze like mine did, but if it does, you are going to be in for a major ordeal.

I have to say that I do miss my Kindle Fire enough to go through all of these steps because it is cool to read on, if it freezes again however (which I have read happened to several unhappy customers after having their Kindle Fire replaced twice), I will be asking them to switch me to a regular Kindle, because those don’t typically have as many problems.