What’s the Best GPS Tracker for Traveling, Pets, Kids, or Luggage?

Worried moms, personal safety, and not getting your nomad gear stolen –these are probably the 3 top reasons for picking up a personal GPS tracker.

In this article we review a range of GPS tracking systems and point out a few you probably shouldn’t waste your time on.

Small GPS Tracker Roundup
Yeah, we Googled those coordinates, too

Somebody Stole My Knickers

After 6+ years abroad full-time, we had a bag disappear and it got us thinking about what we could have done differently to get it back using a personal GPS tracking system.

What did we lose? Not much. My lucky drawers, a couple bathing suits, some health supplements, a backpack, and a few personal items I will leave shrouded in mystery. But it could have been worse. A lot worse.

After our loss, we thought we’d ask around and see what location trackers our peers were using, which worked best, and what different applications they were useful for.

What we came up with is a bunch of research notes that we turned into this location tracker guide for fellow travelers living the nomad life. We’ve written massive guides and tutorials based on what’s in our Evernote, so we hope you dig this one as much as any other we’ve created.

Personal GPS Tracker App

Why Use a GPS Tracking System?

Of course, there’s a lot of reasons why a digital nomad might want to use GPS tracking system:

  • Stolen or lost baggage tracking
  • Search and rescue
  • Mapping your trips
  • Tracking kids, pets or a vehicle
  • Locating your keys, wallet, or phone

In this location tracker review we’re going to provide some insight into a range of considerations that will govern your decision-making process when it comes to buying a personal GPS tracker.

Not all GPS tracking systems are created equal, and people use them to address different needs –and because of this the location tracker technologies under the hood will differ, too.

In this guide we cover devices that use Bluetooth, WiFi, international cellular/GSM, and satellites to log and report their location.

Localizador GPS
Catching a thief in the act would be priceless

Personal GPS Tracker Criteria

We’ve isolated some key areas to consider before you pick up your own personal GPS tracker.

Those criteria are:

  • Unit price
  • Required subscriptions
  • Uses (search and rescue, lost keys, baggage tracking, vehicle tracker, etc.)
  • Tracking technology (Bluetooth, GSM or satellite connectivity)
  • Frequency of location updates
  • Battery life
  • Mobile app or online dashboard
  • Device functions
  • Online reviews

Best GPS Location Trackers

After a lot of online research to compliment what our friends tell us, we decided to review the following personal GPS tracker units:

Worst GPS Location Trackers

The truth is, no small GPS tracker for travel is going to be perfect. Some have limited features, others have costly subscription fees, and a lot of them lack range or are too confusing to use. And some are just useless bricks that lie to you.

According to Amazon reviews, these are the worst GPS trackers currently on the market:

Reason being –they didn’t do the one thing they’re purpose built for very well. The three most prominent complaints for these worst-performing GPS trackers for kids and luggage were battery life, they were overpriced, and reviewers claim inconsistent location reporting due to poor connectivity.

If you’ve had a good experience with either of these localizador GPS units, feel free to set the record straight in the comments.

GPS tracker for hiking and rock climbing
Tonsai, Ao Nang in Krabi, Thailand is a great place to learn rock climbing

8 Personal GPS Trackers Reviewed

We’re reviewing these personal GPS trackers in order of versatility; starting the list off with those that cover the most bases and then working our way down to simple, lightweight, and small GPS trackers before we wrap it up.

1. Spot Gen3 (International)

Spot Gen3 Satellite Location Tracker Review
View Reviews on Amazon

The Spot Gen3 is a personal GPS tracker that covers all the bases and uploads location data on a private satellite network that offers unlimited updates for the lowest monthly subscription cost out of all of the location trackers that require one to work on this list. It does not require a cell phone data plan.

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $150 USD
  • Required subscriptions: $199/year, $19.99/mo unlimited
  • Uses: Search and rescue, baggage tracking, mapping trips, sharing location on a map
  • Tracking technology: Private satellite only, no GSM / cell / SIM card required
  • Frequency of location updates: Tracking intervals of 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes with basic subscription cost above
  • Battery life: 5 days at 5 min intervals on replaceable 4 AAA batteries
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Online dashboard
  • Device functions: In addition to search and rescue, send pre-programmed SMS to family, share URL to location history on a Google Map, and checking in to say you’re okay to friends and family
  • Online reviews: Generally positive (view on Amazon)

The Spot Gen3 works best when it’s latched onto a backpack strap over your shoulder, offering it a clear shot at its satellite network above.

Using it as a luggage tracker; being buried in a cargo hold or inside a building may obstruct its ability to reach satellites from time to time, meaning that it may miss a few pings, although it’s sure to turn up a reading at some point during its journey.

Location pings are stored historically on an online dashboard powered by Google Maps so you never miss an update.

The Spot Gen3 is the best location tracker we reviewed because it’s versatile, works internationally without a SIM or telephone company requirement, and it’s rugged enough to handle adventure activities like hiking and climbing.

You can buy the Spot Gen3 here.

GPS Tracker for Hiking

2. ResQLink Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon (International)

ResQLink Personal GPS Tracker Review

View Reviews on Amazon

 

The ResQLink is the most highly praised personal location tracker that does one thing: Informs local search and rescue teams of your whereabouts —without any satellite subscription fee or telephone company required.

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $235 USD
  • Required subscriptions: None –which really offsets the price
  • Uses: Search and rescue only
  • Tracking technology: International COSPAS-SARSAT search and rescue satellites, no GSM / SIM required
  • Frequency of location updates: Only updates when SOS activated
  • Battery life: Lasts up to 5 years as per manufacturer –built-in, non-rechargeable but replaceable
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Neither, not required as it’s SOS/PLB-only (but you can test it)
  • Device functions: Only intended for search and rescue, that’s it
  • Online reviews: Very positive (view on Amazon)

According to online reviews from YouTube to Amazon, the ResQLink has the most accurate location pings of any location tracker on the market –which is ideal when it’s solely intended to be used in emergencies.

GPS Coordinates for Search and Rescue GPS Tracker
The ACR ResQLink works by alerting COSPAS-SARSAT satellites with your GPS coordinates. From there, local search and rescue teams are mobilized.

This small GPS tracker has great battery life, is incredibly rugged, and it has a fold out antenna which gives it the most reach of all reviewed on this list.

You can buy the ResQLink here.

Personal GPS Tracker

3. GL300 Series (International with Limitations)

GL300 Review localizador GPS

View Reviews on Amazon

 

While doing our research we uncovered 3 different personal GPS tracking systems that were all branded by different companies –yet suspiciously had the same appearance and model number.

In the order they appear in the image above:

Each had similar, positive reviews, and we can only assume they all have the same guts under the hood. We also noticed that some have a lower unit cost and then a higher subscription cost (ie. SpyTec STI GL300 hardware is $10 cheaper than Amcrest, but the subscription fee was $5 more per month).

We decided to focus on the Amcrest GPS tracking system.

Of the three localizador GPS GL300 series models we reviewed, the Amcrest AM-GL300 V3 stood out with the most positive reviews and a lifetime warranty at the time of writing.

It would be our top pick if it was satellite-only and didn’t require a GSM data connection –although it works internationally, some countries didn’t make the list. Call 1-888-212-7538 to see if this personal GPS tracker is supported in the country you’re heading (chances are really good that it will be).

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $60 USD or less
  • Required subscriptions: $19.99/mo for unlimited GPS + quad band GSM location updates and unlimited SMS and email alerts
  • Uses: GPS tracking for kids, luggage, vehicles, mapping trips, sharing location on a map, geo-fencing, SOS
  • Tracking technology: GPS + provided international quad band, 2G GSM / SIM card
  • Frequency of location updates: Real-time
  • Battery life: 10 – 14 days
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Online dashboard
  • Device functions: In addition to search and rescue, send pre-programmed SMS to family, share URL to location history on a Google Map, setup geo-fences for real-time alerts (like if your kid ventures too far off or your bike leaves your garage)
  • Online reviews: Very positive (view on Amazon)

Although not marketed towards lost baggage tracking, the Amcrest AM-GL300 V3 is one of the best luggage trackers on this list. It’s small, lightweight, quite durable, and easily fits in a suitcase. For a more dedicated luggage tracker, check out the GeoGo/LugLoc later in this guide.

This GPS tracker also does more than the average lost baggage tracking device; it is capable of geofencing –making it ideal for tracking your kids, your vehicle, a motorbike (great for a rental while abroad!), and even a bicycle due to its size and approximate 2 week battery life.

Mounting this GPS tracking system to a vehicle is possible with a strong magnetic mounting kit. You can buy the Amcrest AM-GL300 V3 here.

Personal GPS tracker for camping

4. LugLoc and GeGo (International with Limitations)

While the LugLoc ($69) is still available at the time of writing, it appears to be in the process of succession by the GeGo ($99) –a new personal GPS tracker that has improved hardware and software features.

With LugLoc seemingly on it’s way out (yet still available) and the GeGo poised to take it’s place, we took a look at both of these top localizador GPS units and grouped them together.

LugLoc

Best lost baggage tracker - LugLoc and Gego

View Reviews on Amazon

 

The LugLoc suitcase GPS tracker is a refined, purpose-built lost baggage tracking device and has a pretty good reputation for doing it’s job well. It automatically turns off during flight (airplane mode) and adheres to FAA, TSA, and FCC requirements.

This hybrid suitcase GPS tracker also uses a combination of GPS satellites (like your smartphone), worldwide GSM, and Bluetooth technologies, and it has a built-in battery that’s rechargeable via USB cable.

And unlike other lost baggage trackers we reviewed, this one’s got a great smartphone app as opposed to a web-based dashboard, making it one of the best suitcase GPS trackers on the market.

You can buy the LugLoc here.

GeGo

What's the Best GPS Tracker for Traveling, Pets, Kids, or Luggage?

View Reviews on Amazon

 

The GeGo personal GPS tracker’s most notable improvements over the LugLoc include faster data transfer speeds and GPS accuracy enabled by global 3G cellular access and the ability to query it’s location with your Amazon Alexa (which is pretty rad). They also added WiFi connectivity, so it uses GPS (like a smartphone), WiFi, and Bluetooth.

Beyond these upgrades, the service plans appear to be the same for either personal GPS tracker.

You can buy the GeGo here.

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $70 USD (LugLoc) – $99 USD (GeGo)
  • Required subscriptions: First 30 days are free, and unlimited worldwide GSM plans are as follows; $4.99 for 1 month,  $19.99 for 6 months, and $29.99 for 1 year with no contract
  • Uses: GPS tracking for kids, luggage, vehicles and SOS coming soon via their dedicated app (we emailed them to confirm this)
  • Tracking technology: GPS, worldwide GSM, Bluetooth (and WiFi on the GeGo)
  • Frequency of location updates: Real-time
  • Battery life: 10 – 15 days, rechargeable battery and the GeGo has a new battery-saver mode
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Smartphone app for iOS and Android
  • Device functions: Setup geo-fence “safe zones” for kids, alerts in real time if your baggage is on the plane with you, or wherever else it might land
  • Online reviews: Very positive (view on Amazon)

Best GPS Tracker for Pets

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker (International with AT&T Partner Limitations)

Best Pet GPS Tracker

View Reviews on Amazon

 

The Whistle 3 pet GPS tracker has stood the test of time on Amazon, with great reviews in spite of a lot of competition from other devices like the Findster Duo+.

And rightly so, this pet GPS tracker has a lot of high-tech features for a such a small device. Real-time activity alerts, 24-hour location history (which makes for interesting viewing if you can imagine), and user-defined safe places make it one of the best GPS pet trackers out there.

Geo-fencing is a critical requirement for pet GPS trackers; geo-fencing “safe places” for your pet are simple to setup and they rely on your home’s WiFi router as opposed to satellite which can fudge locations from time to time –when time is of the essence, this is a plus.

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $80 USD
  • Required subscriptions: Unlimited GSM plans are as follows; $9.99 for 1 month,  $95.50 for 1 year, and $166.80 for 2 years with contract
  • Uses: GPS tracking for pets
  • Tracking technology: GPS, worldwide GSM, and WiFi
  • Frequency of location updates: Real-time
  • Battery life: 7 days, rechargeable battery
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Smartphone app for iOS and Android
  • Device functions: Setup geo-fence “safe zones” for pets, alerts in real time, and waterproof for whatever your dog or cat gets into
  • Online reviews: Positive (view on Amazon), although we’re not fans of the service contract

You can buy the Whistle 3 GPS pet tracker here.

Best GPS tracker for kids

Tile Mate, Tile Slim (Local)

Tile-Mate-Review-Location-Tracker

View Reviews on Amazon

 

Although the Tile Mate is considered a personal location tracker, it’s not quite comparable to the other personal GPS trackers on this list however it makes a great companion product.

Tile is purpose-built to find nearby luggage items like your passport, phone, wallet, keys, or tablet and it’s range is limited because it relies on Bluetooth alone.

When you’re moving from hotel room to hotel room and between establishments you’ve never been before, it’s really easy to leave items behind or misplace them –this is where Tile shines.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably had the odd traveler’s anxiety attack when your passport, wallet, keys, or smartphone get misplaced or buried in your bag. With Tile, you just affix a Mate or Slim Tile tracker to these items and you can view their nearby location on a smartphone app.

At the very least, knowing your passport is in the room with you hiding somewhere will drop those travel anxiety adrenaline levels.

If your Tile isn’t where you left it, the Tile community can anonymously help you and update the location of your item if another phone running the Tile app comes within range of your missing item

Breakdown:

  • Unit price: $40 USD or less (this price is for a 4-pack, you can buy singles)
  • Required subscriptions: None
  • Uses: Tracking for kids if they’re nearby, luggage, keys, passports, laptops, tablets, wallets, and whatever else you are likely to misplace often
  • Tracking technology: Bluetooth
  • Frequency of location updates: Real-time
  • Battery life: 1 year, batteries can’t be replaced
  • Mobile app or online dashboard: Smartphone app for iOS and Android
  • Device functions: Find out where your stuff is if nearby, when activated your Tile Mate or Slim will beep to make finding it easy; if out of range, other Tile app users can help you find your items anonymously
  • Online reviews: Very positive (view on Amazon)

You can buy Tile here.

Best Personal GPS Tracker

Our Top Picks

Of all the personal location trackers that made the cut to be on this list, our favorites are as follows:

  • Best GPS tracker for hiking and other adventure activities: Spot Gen3 because it’s rugged, has a low monthly subscription cost, and doesn’t rely on limited cellular networks –it’s satelite only, so it works in GSM dead zones.

    Worth note is that the ResQLink is a superior product when it comes to range, in spite of its limited features; some hikers have reported on YouTube that when using both the Spot Gen3 and ResQLink side-by-side it was the ResQLink that successfully called Search and Rescue, however we’re willing to that take that risk as the ResQLink doesn’t make it easy to replace its batteries and it isn’t as feature rich (maybe that’s stupid, that’s your call to make).
  • Best luggage tracker: GeGo because it’s new and improved, works with Alexa, uses 3G where others are still limited to 2G and below, and it has additional WiFi connectivity –something other localizador GPS units don’t have.
  • Best GPS tracker for kids: This one’s a tie between the Amcrest AM-GL300 V3 and the GeGo –both have great accuracy, and their small GPS tracker size is a huge plus.
  • Best GPS tracker for pets: We only reviewed the Whistle 3 because it had the most positive reviews on Amazon, making this pet GPS tracker the winner.

And of course, no matter what we choose, we love our Tiles for our keys, passport, wallet, and smartphones.

Best Personal Location GPS

What’s Your Favorite Personal GPS Tracker?

Did we hit the nail on the head or do you disagree with our GPS tracking system review? Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Nomad Life Blog - Michael Hulleman


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