There’s something about loading up the car, putting on some awesome tunes, and hitting the open road that appeals to everyone — young or old. It’s the sense of freedom, the promise of fun times, and the relative ease that has made road-tripping one of the great American traditions. Every year when the snow melts away, families, groups of friends, and solo wanderers take to the highways for a big adventure.
Having the right gadgets with you can take your road trip to another level, whether they’re for practical use, entertainment purposes, or things to keep you safe on your journey. But sometimes it’s difficult to know what to pack, and what’s just going to add extra weight to your vehicle. Here are eight travel gadgets you should take on your next road trip.
1. Smartphone mount
If you’re going to be using your smartphone as a GPS navigation system or music player in your car, you need to do it safely, and installing a smartphone mount is the way to go. There are several that are suitable for any model of car, whether it uses a suction cup for the windshield or a clip for the air vent. Just make sure it’s in a place that’s easy to see, but doesn’t obstruct your view of the road.
2. Coffee handpresso
A coffee handpresso is like carrying your own personal coffee machine no matter where you go, but is so small and portable that it will fit in any handbag or daypack. The handpresso allows you to create a cup of joe in minutes with minimal effort. Like a regular machine, it forces the hot water through the coffee beans to produce a delicious shot of espresso. All you need is your favorite ground coffee beans or capsules, a flask of hot water, and a bit of hand pressure, and you’ve got a cafe quality cup of coffee on the go. (See also: 10 Tips for Camping Cooking)
3. Solar power bank
If you’re on a multiday road trip where you’re doing any activities away from the car like hiking, or camping, then it pays to have a portable power source. Solar power banks allow you to charge all of your small devices like phones, tablets, and cameras with the power of the sun. There’s no need to worry about running out of power with one of these on hand. (See also: The 5 Best Solar Power Banks)
4. Electric cooler
Quick and easy snacks are one of the most important elements of an epic road trip, but there’s nothing worse than opening up the package of food that you’ve worked so hard to prepare only to find that it’s gone bad. An electric cooler is the perfect solution, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from that simply plug into your car’s electricity supply. They’re also handy for chilling drinks to keep you cool on those long summer drives. (See also: These 15 Road Trip Snacks Make It All About the Journey)
5. Bluetooth speaker
When you’re on a road trip, you’re probably going to want some entertainment, both for the actual traveling and for when you’ve parked at each stop along the way. A Bluetooth speaker will allow you to sit around the campfire or in the hotel room listening to your favorite playlists and podcasts.
They can also be used in the car if it’s not Bluetooth enabled, and will save you from flipping through radio stations trying to find something you like. Just connect it to your phone or tablet, and you’ve got your preferred audio at your fingertips. (See also: The 5 Best Waterproof Bluetooth Speakers)
6. Car USB charger
If you’re driving a car that lacks built-in USB ports, then a USB charger that fits into the cigarette lighter is the ideal fix. You can use it to charge all of your devices while you’re on the go; particularly your smartphone, which will quickly run out of juice if you’re using satellite navigation.
Whether it’s a bottle or can opener, a screwdriver, or a knife, there’s always an occasion on a road trip where you’ll find yourself in need of a particular tool. With a decent multitool in your pocket, you can solve virtually any problem you come across. They come in all shapes and sizes, with hundreds of different attachments to choose from, but even the smaller keychain variety will no doubt get you out of a bind at some point. (See also: 12 Cool Travel Items for Your Summer Vacation)
8. Dashboard camera
Give yourself some peace of mind in the event of being involved in an accident when you’re on a road trip with a second set of eyes. Though it’s not something you ever want to happen, it pays to be prepared, and a dashboard camera can help prove the exact circumstances of a crash.
Increasingly, people are also using them to capture the scenery around them while driving that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to document. Choose one with a higher memory capacity and you could make an incredible time lapse film of your entire journey once you get home.