Travel Tuesday: Gear up for your next road trip with these gadgets

By Author: Carolyn Briggs, Date: May 09, 2017
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One of the best things about road trips is that they’re easy. All you need is a car and a bag to turn a weekend into a vacation. But there are some things you can buy to improve the experience. Whether you’ve mapped out the quickest route or the drive itself is your destination, these gadgets can get you where you’re going safer and more comfortably.

1. We know you’re using your phone – please be safe

On a long drive it’s inevitable. You may need to take a look at the GPS, or start a spotify playlist. Maybe it’s just that your mom is calling and you need to reassure her that you’re still safe and on the road. Whatever the reason, we’ve all been guilty of looking at, or even using our phones behind the wheel.

Navdy, a display system mounted to the dashboard, connects to your phone via bluetooth and projects info from the phone onto the road in front of you (more accurately onto a small screen that pops up, much like the head up display in a MINI Cooper). Using a scroll wheel that mounts to the steering wheel, you can take a look at your directions, flip through songs, and make and receive phone calls without ever taking your eyes off the road.

2. Keep yourself fed and watered

There are many reasons to avoid gas station coffee, taste or lack there of being the most obvious. For those times when there’s not a real coffee shop on your route or you’re just trying to cut down on stops, the Handpresso 127015 espresso maker should do the trick. It can be used with your own grounds, or prepackaged pods, and it works simply by plugging in your cigarette lighter. There’s not a car too low tech to work with this espresso maker.

If you’re not into spending $200 to have espresso at your fingertips, you could take a look at DRIPO, a hand held cold brew coffee maker that takes no power at all. All that stands between you and a cup of cold brew is grounds and cold water. Oh, and about two hours. DRIPO would certainly help out on road trips, but only if you’re good at planning ahead.

And if you’re really in the middle of nowhere, or just can’t stand another fast food dinner, make sure your car has a RoadPro. This 12-volt device calls itself a stove, but it’s much closer to a heated lunch box. Put your precooked food in the box and when you’re ready to eat, plug it into the cigarette lighter. An hour later you’ve got a hot dinner, ready to eat in the car.

Don’t worry, the next device is not an in-car waste management device.

3. Curate a comfortable environment

If you’re driving for a long time, your comfort becomes vitally important. After hours in the car everything start to feel tight. Your back seizes, your legs cramp and even shoulders and arms get sore. Before your next drive grab a CG-Lock Seatbelt Stabilizer. The device clips onto your seatbelt and “locks” you into proper position. Suddenly your seatbelt is holding your hips back, preventing you from slouching and keeping your back aligned with the lumbar support built into your seat. In addition to arriving more comfortably, tests suggest the CG-Lock gives you better control and feedback during driving, and keeps you safer in the event of a crash.

But comfort is about more than just your body, it’s about your environment. And whether your traveling partner has coffee breath or you’re driving through Appleton, WI while the paper mill is running, it’s pretty difficult to get comfortable with bad smells. The FRiEQ car air purifier removes pollen, smoke, dust and odors from the air in your car. In addition to removing your less favorite smells and allergens, it also neutralizes mold, bacteria and viruses.

4. Stay connected

We’ve all been close to that nightmare scenario. You’re running out of gas. The light has been on for a while, and there’s been nothing around but hills and dirt roads for miles. You tell yourself to relax, and think about the AAA card in your wallet. It calms you down until you look at your phone and see you have no service. Not even a single wimpy bar. It’s starting to get late, and you don’t want to admit to yourself that you’re scared. What the hell are you going to do?

GoTenna pairs with your phone via bluetooth, and allows you to send messages and GPS locations without service or WiFi. It also gives you access to free offline maps, which would be incredibly useful if your nightmare is more about getting lost than being out of gas. You can send private messages, or just broadcast your distress beacon to all GoTenna users nearby.

GoTenna is one of those gadgets you hope you never need, but you’re sure glad you have it.

5. Capture (and keep) your memories

Then there’s the other nightmare scenario. You’re three hours into your drive home when you realize that somewhere along the way, you’ve left your phone behind. Certainly less dangerous than the late night no gas option, but it’s still pretty devastating in the moment. It’s not just the annoyance of setting up a new phone, it’s all of those great vacation pictures you just took. Those were going to be your #TBT posts for months!

Another problem with an easy, techie solution. Replace the standard cable in your car charger with a Meem cable, and you’ll have all your data backed up every time you plug your phone in. You may have to take that 2-year upgrade you’ve been sitting on, but at least you’ll still have your selfies.

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Carolyn Briggs

I grew up on the road. As a child, my family took regular trips from Wisconsin to both coasts. That's how I've seen most of this country — through the window of a car. Years later, I still feel that excitement when I toss my bags in the trunk and get behind the wheel. That's how seeing something new always begins. I've scaled mountains, dived with sharks, and stepped to the very edge of the Grand Canyon, all because I spent hours in a car. This site combines my passion for the road with my actual talent — communication and journalism. In college I rose to the position of managing editor for The Badger Herald, the largest independent student newspaper in the country at the time. I spent a year after graduating in social media marketing before moving off the grid to explore the wild beauty of West Virginia.

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