10 Favorite Hacks and Gadgets to Make Your Road Trip Run More Smoothly
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Roughly 60 percent of Americans plan to travel more this year than they did in 2019, which increasingly includes road trips and RVing. Even if you’re all vaccinated and feel comfortable visiting family and friends this season, the safest way to do so is still with your own vehicle.
Of course, just because you’ll be hopping on the interstate to get to your aunt’s house for the Fourth of July doesn’t mean you’ll have to do so begrudgingly. On the contrary, with so many companies striving to make your drive smoother than ever, you may be a little reluctant to get out of the car once you get to your final destination. From tech toys to ways to hack your comfort, these little accessories go a long way towards making your road trip experience more enjoyable.
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We chose the following ten items for their comfort, convenience and general coolness. All of them have their own way of making your trip feel less tedious — whether your journey is 10 miles or 10 hours. Sadly though, we still haven’t found the gadget that fixes your passengers’ questionable taste in road-trip music. We’ll keep working on that.
1. Otterbox USB-C Fast Charge Car Charger
While newer phones tout batteries that supposedly last a gazillion hours before needing a charge, they still somehow find the darnedest times to drop below the dreaded 15-percent level. With Otterbox’s USB-C Fast Charger, you’ll never have to worry about going dark. This sleek unit promises an 18-watt flash charge via power delivery (compared to the sloth-like 5-watt variety). We put the technology to work recently with a Samsung Galaxy S20 on a quick trip and the results were every bit as impressive as advertised on the box.
Buy:Otterbox USB-C Fast Charge Car Chargerat$24.99
2. BioLite CampStove 2
Let’s face it—when you’re driving long stretches, there’s not always going to be time to stop for food. If you’re okay roughing it to save a few bucks on takeout, or if you just love campfire cooking, BioLite’s CampStove 2 is a great option if you’re looking for a streamlined cooking appliance-slash-power source.
The CampStove 2 is a wood-burning stove, simply use foraged sticks and twigs to heat the stove. Not only will you get a good flame going, you’ll simultaneously be generating electricity for your smartphone, headlamp and other road gadgets. With an extra grill piece add-on, you’ll be able to easily turn your road trip into a mini tailgate.
We’ve reviewed the BioLite’s heartier companion, the FirePit+ if you want the full roaring bonfire, campfire cooking experience once you reach your destination. But the CampStove2 is an excellent choice anyone with an already overstuffed road trip car, since it weighs just under four pounds and folds up compact into a carrying bag.
Buy:BioLite CampStove 2at$149.95
3. Weego 44.1 Jump Starter
When it comes to car safety, Weego has its own lane. Though the company offers a range of starters capable of jump-starting everything from motorcycles to heavy-duty construction equipment, the Weego 44.1 is the perfect option for just about every car, truck and SUV battery that might need a boost.
But this compact contraption goes even further with a brilliant flashlight, a USB outlet for charging electronic devices and a 12-volt accessibility port (adapter sold separately) in case you need to power anything else along the way.
Buy:Weego Jump Starter 44.1at149.99
4. YETI Roadie 24 Cooler
AAA suggests that when we do hit the road over the next few months, that we limit the number of stops we make to reduce our chances of potential exposure to strangers. With the YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, you’ll hardly need convenience stores because everything you want — food, soda (up to 18 cans) or ice all easily fit inside — will already be within arm’s reach.
And unlike the dinged-up cooler you’ve lugged around since sophomore year, this snazzy one proves thoughtful in its look (four color options), design (easy fit behind the passenger’s seat; taller frame to hold wine bottles) and construction (Quicklatch for one-handed access). It’s durable enough to take out of the car and to your campsite or cabin too.
Buy:YETI Roadie 24 Coolerat$199.99
5. Bindle 24 oz Water Bottle With Storage Compartment
Part-water bottle, part-storage compartment and part-snack container, this smart, sustainable solution from Bindle may be all you need, drinking-wise, for your next journey. Simply twist off the top cap to use the BPA-free bottle for any drink, hot or cold. Either way you choose to use it, the vacuum-sealed stainless steel bottle will stay at the right temperatures for hours. And if that weren’t enough, the leak-proof bottom can store a few snacks, your ID, keys, cash or whatever other small item you need to keep nearby.
Buy:Bindle Water Bottle With Storageat$39.00
6. Pendleton Yakima Camp High Ridge Blanket
If you’re trying to catch a few winks, it can be a bummer if the driver is blasting the AC. But rather than get tense over the temp, simply get comfortable under this Pendleton blanket. Outdoorsy types adore the company for its vintage-inspired prints and high-quality materials. We love this earth-tone, wool/cotton blanket, styled like a favorite wrap or shawl. Oh, and if anyone else in the car wants to get in on the warmth, the queen-sized blanket offers more than enough coziness for two.
Buy:Pendleton Yakima Camp High Ridge Blanketat169.99
7. World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow
With plane travel down significantly this year, neck pillows haven’t gotten nearly as much attention as they usually get. But we’re here to tell you that car naps enhanced by the right pillow are just as good as those in the air. Take Wolf Manufacturing’s aptly named World’s Best Feather Soft Microfiber Neck Pillow, for example. Because of its soft-to-the-touch crystal fleece covering and recycled-fiber stuffing, the pillow is the ideal combination of comfort and support. And with the nifty snap closure at the front, you’re assured it’ll always stay in place.
Buy:World's Best Feather Soft Neck Pillowat10.99
8. ieGeek Portable DVD Player
Streaming services are as popular as ever, but if you want to rediscover your movie collection during an upcoming road trip, a portable DVD player is the right tool for the job. Looking to create a backseat entertainment system in your car? IeGeek’s portable DVD player is the way to go.
It has a 9.5-inch screen, which can be folded over the disc drive. The display has a resolution of 720P (1280 x 720), so you can watch HD videos via a flash drive or SD card. The sound quality is also pretty decent, with a dual-speaker stereo system.
This DVD player can last between five and six hours on a single charge before needing to be plugged into an outlet. You can also plug it into a car’s cigarette lighter — both a wall and car charger are included in the box. This portable DVD player also comes with a game link that contains 150 retro games (controller sold separately) and A/V cable, so you can connect it to a TV when you reach your destination.
Buy:ieGeek Portable DVD Playerat$62.99
9. Sony WH1000MX4
If you’re going to be stuck in car with others for hours, or days, on end, you’re going to want a little peace and quiet eventually. Sony’s WH1000MX4s aren’t just the best headphones for travel — they’re also our top pick for the best noise-cancelling headphones in general.
Noise-cancellation is the highlight of these WH1000MX4s. Four microphones (two on either earcup) pick up ambient noise, run it through a Noise-Cancelling Processor and dampen the ambient noise whether you’re stuck in a car.
Soft and plush earcups also make the WH1000MX4s as comfortable as headphones get, meaning you can keep them on throughout a long drive without any discomfort (unless you’re the driver, of course). With superb sound quality to boot, you’ll want to keep them on as long as possible. A specifically-designed “Digital Sound Enhancement Engine” upscales digital music files, while 40mm drivers deliver full, crisp audio, not matter if you’re listening to music or podcasts.
One big bonus: the headphones feature incredible 30-hour battery life, plus five hours of battery with a quick 10-minute charge.
Buy:Sony WH1000MX4 Headphonesat$278.00
10. Pac-Kit 57 Piece First Aid Kit
The Red Cross recommends keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in your home or car, and even provides a list of the items you should keep inside. Pac-Kit’s 57-Piece First Aid Kit is stocked with everything you’ll need in a single, compact package that you can take with you on camping trips, hikes, or road trips
The kit comes with simple tools, like scissors and tweezers, plus plastic gloves that can keep your hands clean if you’re dealing with blood. It also comes with an emergency guide from the Red Cross to help you know how to use the items in it. This is the most travel-friendly first aid kit we recommend, and it’s a good choice if you have a small car, or want to keep one in the trunk just in case. The hard plastic case is especially durable, and weatherproof to boot.
Buy:Pac-Kit 57 Piece First Aid Kitat$15.92
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