A. Lynn, I remember your question from a show not too long ago! I told you I would expand it out and give you a full answer in a tip, so here it is. I really think your situation can help many people.
These days, work-related travel is common, especially overseas. It's a big reason why keeping in touch overseas has become easier in the last decade.
You've identified two obvious solutions in laptops and tablets, Lynn. But I'm going to throw smartphones into the mix - they don't call it "calling home" for nothing!
Of course, if he wants to take just one gadget, it has to be enough to communicate in all the different ways most families do.