Photo: Nickolaus Hines

One of the Most Highly Reviewed Video Baby Monitors Has a Travel Bundle, But There’s a Catch

Family Travel
by Nickolaus Hines Apr 22, 2024

A quality video baby monitor was one of the first things that landed on the to-buy list when my wife and I learned a baby was on the way. We gathered feedback from friends and family and turned to reviews in reputable recommendations publications like New York magazine’s The Strategist and the New York Times backed Wirecutter. One company kept popping up that we ended up going with: Nanit.

While there have been some occasional outages and difficulties, Nanit has overall worked well for us. The video app is simple to use, and the notifications for various sound levels or movement are easy to adjust. Considering the amount of travel we do with our baby and our reliance on Nanit for checking in on naps, we added in the $280 Traveling Camera Bundle.

It is unfortunately not built for regular travel, regardless of the name.

Nanit uses a lot of bandwidth. Which is fine at home, but can cause issues at family or friends houses. Then there’s the WiFi that Nanit doesn’t recommend, or allow use of at all. Chief among them are open networks, with a strong recommendation against using guest networks — the WiFi that you would encounter at most accommodations. The Traveling Camera Bundle is “for travel” in the sense that it has a portable stand, but it is not for travel where your only WiFi option is hotel WiFi or an Airbnb with a guest network.

It’s notoriously hard to get in contact with anyone from Nanit other than the basic on-page chatbot. I’m far from alone in noticing this problem. The only clarity on why offer a travel bundle if it can’t be used where most people are staying while they travel is on the general Nanit network explainer page: security reasons.

To be fair to Nanit, the majority, if not all, WiFi enabled video baby monitors limit or refuse to work on open networks. I learned this after setting up the Nanit in a hotel for the first time. Regrettably I did not thoroughly read through all of Nanit’s usage details and had assumed this was designed for normal travel. I ended up in a deep dive through forums, blogs, and Reddit to see if there was any workaround to a connection issue I hadn’t previously thought of. I found solace that I wasn’t the only one to make that mistake judging by posts on Reddit from other Nanit users who realized too late that there is no easy way to bypass the issue. The only solution that some found success with was to use a mobile hotspot with high bandwidth.

It makes sense that the company would want to keep any potential camera hacking from happening. Hotel WiFi is notoriously not secure even at the best properties. Cybersecurity experts suggest using online safety measures like a VPN or a mobile hotspot when accessing any sensitive information online using hotel WiFi. No parent would want their kid watched by hackers, and the camera would be an easy way to see when people weren’t in their hotel room as well. On Nanit’s side, it’s easy to imagine more than a little hesitancy about the types of stories that would come out after a hack.

None of that makes the price tag for Nanit’s Traveling Camera Bundle make any more sense for frequent travelers.

We still use our Nanit at home every day. The travel one comes out for the occasional trip to a family member’s house. But to make the Nanit Travel Bundle a true travel baby monitor with video, don’t forget the mobile hotspot.

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