Essential Road Trip Gadgets

Road trips are one of the great pleasures of car ownership, and millions of Americans drive long distances every year to just enjoy the fantastic scenery. Gadgets can make road trips more enjoyable, safer, and more reliable. By spending very little money, you can really enhance your road trip and provide for the safety and entertainment of your passengers.

Liven up a road trip

You are bound to experience a lot of very pretty scenery on your road trip, but there are always stretches of major roads that offer little in the way of eye candy. These hours of highway commuting can become very boring for you and for your passengers, but luckily there are a number of electronic devices that can relieve the boredom.

It is increasingly common for families to take a couple of tablet computers on journeys to help keep the kids busy. Tablets have oodles of games and other apps that help pass time, while children can also watch their favorite films and television programs. For added entertainment, think about getting a Wi-Fi hotspot for your car so that passengers can actively browse the web and social media while you are driving.

Help with reaching your destination

There are various gadgets available that assist with navigation. You could opt to get a purpose-built GPS unit dedicated to the task of road trip planning. A dedicated unit from a manufacturer of in-car GPS devices offer clear visual and audio instructions to make sure that you do not take a single wrong turn, while also offering live traffic and incident updates. GPS devices can assist you in planning detours when needed and will show you which options you have to avoid toll roads.

It is not essential to have a dedicated navigation device – any smartphone or tablet device could double up for navigation purposes. In fact there are so many advanced mapping software solutions out there, you'd be amazed at how much information you can get out of them. Consider getting a navigation app instead of relying on the built-in mapping services, as navigation apps can provide additional information and are more streamlined for use while driving. Don’t neglect the old-fashioned choice of a road atlas: this secondary source of information can be invaluable when electronic devices fail to live up to expectations.

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In case of emergency

The in-car gadgets that you have available to you can make a big difference in the case of an emergency. In fact, many of these are essential safety features that you should take with you on every journey. For example, your vehicle’s tires are one of the most vulnerable components and undergo a lot of stress throughout a journey. Make sure that you have a tire-pressure gauge, and regularly check the pressure of your tires, as a tire at low pressure is at increased risk of bursting.

A tire pump is another essential gadget, allowing you to fill a slowly deflating tire with air so that you can get to the next fuel stop safely. Many tire punctures can be solved temporarily with the help of a filler, so get a puncture repair kit for your car – it could potentially save you from being stranded next to the road and wasting hours waiting for roadside assistance.

Also, consider packing a basic roadside emergency kit. Small accidents happen all the time, whether it is while you are stopping at a rest stop for food or an innocent skirmish amongst the kids. A good first aid kit will help you to patch the injured person up in a safe and hygienic manner, making it easy to clean and prepare a minor wound for quick healing.

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A few other essentials

With the increasing number of mobile devices that we all use, a universal battery that can jump-start your car will be incredibly useful. These battery packs can charge up several phones and tablets during the journey, never leaving any devices with an empty battery. Also consider getting head-rest mounts for your tablet computers – it is much easier sitting back looking up at a tablet screen attached to a headrest than holding one in your hand.

A neck support can come in very handy over long journeys, while you might think about getting a special back seat cover if you are transporting a couple of excitable pets. Don’t forget the one long-distance essential: a window shade can dramatically cool down passengers without the need to crank up the air-conditioning all the way.

Before you start your journey, think about the conditions that you will encounter, and plan accordingly. Make a list of important gadgets to buy and pack before you go – doing so in advance will let you get the best gadgets at the lowest prices and will help you make sure that you do not miss out on any essentials.