Road trips are perhaps, the most liberating form of travelling. There are no reservations, no set destinations and no obligations. There is just you, your car, and anywhere you want to go. While this freedom can be exhilarating, it can also be intimidating. What if you get stranded or hungry? What if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere? This can be a frightening prospect to any person.
On the flipside, what if nothing happens? What if your journey from here all the way to there is completely uneventful without so much as a curve in the road to keep you entertained? Travelling on long straight flat roads for hours on end can bore any person to the edge of insanity.
Luckily, there are products which provide solutions to all of these concerns. Read on to see what essential items can make your next road trip as safe and fun as possible.
Assuming you have a smartphone you can connect via Bluetooth, a Bluetooth car kit can be a wondrous improvement to your travels, whether they are across the country or just across town. Bluetooth car kits provide both safety and entertainment. They enable you to receive calls and talk to people without taking your hands off the wheel. In addition, they enable you to stream audio from your phone through your car’s speakers. This is often more reliable than using an fm transmitter to stream music, as there is much less interference.
We recommend the Kinivo Bluetooth Car Kit for its clarity, ease of use and extra features. This device installs incredibly easily and will have you rocking out to your phone’s greatest hits in seconds. What makes this kit stand out is its ability to pair with more than one device at a time. This means you, and your passenger, can receive calls and play your phone’s music without having to switch between devices, which is perfect if you can’t decide who should choose the music and resolve to take turns.
While we don’t recommend that you catch up on your books while you drive, having an E-reader in the car during a road trip can be a great improvement for everyone in the car. If you are with someone in the car for the long haul, they will appreciate having an entire library of books to read during the long stretches of road. E-readers are also handy for having a huge variety of vacation and tourism guides at your fingertips as you roam from city to city. During a road trip, the storage space in your car is valuable, so be sure to bring an E-reader instead of dozens of books.
It shouldn’t surprise you that we recommend the Amazon Kindle as our E-Reader of choice. For less than $80, the Amazon Kindle has the capacity to hold thousands of books, a battery life lasting days on a single charge, and a screen with the appearance of paper to combat vision fatigue. To top it off, you can connect to Wi-Fi with it and download even more books from the millions available at Amazon.
Mobile Video Player
If you have small children, something like this is nearly essential for road tripping. If you remember what it is like to be a kid, even little 40 minute rides outside the city felt excruciatingly long and boring. The best way to pass the time was to unmercifully annoy your parents. Don’t suffer the same fate they did. Pick up one or two car video monitors and a portable dvd player, and the kids will be enjoy the car ride in glorious silence.
We recommend the RCA 9 Inch Mobile DVD Player, which comes with an additional screen. Two screens mean multiple backseat passengers will be able to enjoy the show. While it has speakers, you can also set the kids up with headphone jacks so you don’t have to listen to the background noise. The screens also come with headrest mounting straps to place them at the proper eye level in your car, but these straps come off easily if you want to remove the screens while your car is parked.
When you’re on the road, your car battery is usually your only source of electricity, but without a power inverter, it can be a challenge to harness that electricity to power your devices. A power inverter basically plugs into your cars cigarette lighter, and converts the 12V direct current into 120 Volt alternating current, thereby enabling the usage of electricity by your electronic devices. If you are travelling with a laptop, gaming device or anything else that needs charging, these can be especially helpful.
We recommend the Energizer 500W Power Inverter for the job. It comes with two outlets and two USB ports which makes charging up your devices as simple as starting your car.
You may have noticed that we have not included a GPS navigation system on this list. That’s because most smartphones have this capability already, but to really make proper use of it, you need a good mount to hold your phone as you drive. These handy dashboard buddies will hold your phone in position so you can look to it for quick reference as both your hands are on the wheel.
We recommend the iOttie HLCRIO102 mount. Its adjustable design can fit most phone designs and the suction cup is incredibly strong. It is also incredibly flexible, allowing you to position your phone exactly the way you like.
It shouldn’t surprise you to see a cooler on this list. A good cooler has been a road trip essential since cars and coolers were invented. With a good cooler, you can stash away enough food and drinks to last days, and it is great to be able to get nourishment without stopping.
For a great cooler with added functionality, we recommend the Gray Kargo Cooler from Target. This is the cooler made for road trips. You can fit 42 cans of pop in this thing and the thermo-electric and will plug into your cigarette lighter so you can keep your food and beverages cold without the use of ice. Plus, it has a split top so you can stack things on top of it, and still get what you need out of there.
Never underestimate the value of a headlamp when you are spending time away from home. If your car breaks down while you are driving at night, it will help to have both hands free when you pop the hood to see what the problem is. A headlamp also helps when it is dark outside and you need to find something buried beneath all of the stuff you have packed in your car. A passenger can use it to read a map clearly when the lights in the car just won’t cut it. And if you need to walk through the night to get assistance or fuel if your vehicle shuts down, a headlamp is a great tool to keep you safe.
We would suggest looking at the Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp. It has multiple settings for different situations. You can set it to strobe if you want to make yourself visible to other drivers as you walk on the side of the road. You can also set it to red night vision if you want to see something in the car without ruining your ability to see in the dark. You can also set it to light multiple distances.
Whether you are taking a long road trip or not, every car should have a good set of jumper cables stashed away. It doesn’t matter how modern or fancy your car is. If you leave a light on overnight, or use your appliances too much without the engine running, your battery is at risk of failing. Once this happens, your car won’t start until your battery gets a boost from a neighboring car. Make sure you get a good long pair of jumper cables (around 16 feet), so no matter how your car is positioned, another car will be able to come in and connect the batteries with ease.
We recommend the Majic 16′ 4 Guage 600 Amp Cables. They are long enough to get your car boosted in almost any situation, but not so long that they will take up space in your car. They also have a nice protective coating to keep them working well in cold weather. Top top it off, they come with safety gloves and a travel bag. Of course, it is up to you to find what cables work best for your car and your battery. Make sure to do your research before buying a pair of jumper cables so you know you are getting ones that will work.