When it comes to preparing for travel, many of us can empathize with Brat Pack icon Emilio Estevez when he said, “There is a part of me that wants to go out and unplug — just get out there and travel. I have yet to do that, but someday I hope.” Unplugging from technology might be a great idea from time-to-time, but is a road trip the best time to do it? The conveniences offered by the following six road trip tech gadgets might convince you to stay connected during your next trip.
Top 6 Road Trip Tech Gadgets to take on your Holiday
Portable Wi-Fi Router
Anyone who owns a smartphone knows that managing your cellular data is a hassle. On road trips, you need an internet connection to access GPS directions, to offer passengers some entertainment on the road, and to find nearby amenities. Needless to say, it can be quite easy to exceed your data limit. On the other hand, using public Wi-Fi access points can be dangerous, since your personal information can be intercepted.
One solution to this conundrum is a portable Wi-Fi router. These road trip tech gadgets create wireless hotspots; allowing your entire family to access the internet on the road — without wreaking havoc on your data plan. They can even make Wi-Fi calling a cinch. They are typically powered through a USB connection. Since most new cars have USB ports nowadays, this shouldn’t be a problem for most users. However, if your car does not have a USB port, you can still power the router through a portable USB charger or a laptop.
GPS Mileage Tracker
If your road trip is business-related, it is necessary to track your miles. Trackers are required in some fields, such as the trucking industry. However, tracking personal mileage is also helpful, as it can streamline car maintenance; remembering to rotate your tires every 5,000 miles, or to change your oil every 3,000 miles can be a hassle otherwise. A GPS mileage tracker is an essential tool for long trips.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of options. If you have a smartphone, there are a plethora of apps designed to track your miles. Many are even free, with some caveats (like being forced to watch ads every so often). If you don’t have a smartphone, there are are products like The Mileage Ace — an electronic mileage log that can upload data from your car using Wi-Fi. Fakespot shows that consumer reviews are fairly positive, so this is a good option for those seeking a dedicated device for mileage tracking.
Planning on spending some time under the stars? Turn your camping grounds into a drive-in theater with a pocket projector. Projectors can turn any ordinary night into a movie night. It provides a unique bonding experience for the family. If combined with a portable Wi-Fi router, you can stream anything you want off the internet.
There are many different types of portable projectors, but it is best to buy an LED-based model. They are brighter and generally pack a higher resolution (1280 x 800, comparable to most HD TVs). If you are unsure about which model is right for your needs, check out an in-depth comparison of the most popular models on PC Magazine.
While most travellers wouldn’t prepare for a long trip on the road by packing a metal detector; there are actually some compelling reasons to do so; especially if you will be doing any camping or hiking during your journey. For one, they are incredibly useful for finding lost keys or jewelry hidden in sand or grass. Furthermore, metal detecting itself can be an engaging activity during any outing. Going outdoors and unearthing relics is an exciting proposition; it gives you a great reason to explore nature and exercise
To maximize your enjoyment, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. Bringing along a handheld pinpointer can help you determine the precise location of an object; while some good headphones can help you more precisely hear any changes in pitch. Furthermore, keeping some additional search coils of different sizes on hand can help you search as much of the ground as possible.
We typically remember to bring sunscreen on road trips, but remembering to regularly apply it can be a chore. With the help of a variety of innovative road trip tech gadgets, however, sunburn can be a problem of the past. There are several ultraviolet-sensitive clip-on devices on the market that are designed to inform you when it is time to reapply some sunscreen.
Products like JUNE, SunSprite, and Violet work on the same basic principles; they track your exposure to the sun, calculate how much sunlight you should be exposed to during the day (based on your skin type), and alert you when you need to apply some SPF to block some rays.
Modern Mosquito Repellent
If you plan on spending much time outdoors on your next road trip, mosquitoes are a problem you must be prepared for. Fortunately, recent advancements in repellent technology have resulted in some extremely helpful gadgets that can handle this issue with little hassle.
One such innovation is the Thermacell Mosquito Repeller. This relatively inexpensive ($25) outdoor device can purportedly handle all mosquitoes in a 15’ x 15’ area by using a butane cartridge to heat a small mat coated in pyrethrins (organic compounds commonly used in insect repellents). One review states that the product is effective, but complains that the butane cartridges do not last as long as advertised, and that refills are too expensive. It is definitely a product worth considering for a road trip.
Throughout the past decade, technology has made travelling much easier. Gone are the days when drivers had to fumble with unwieldy road maps and tedious stretches of road. While it is true that we all should try to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other; it is hard to argue these road trip tech gadgets don’t make for a more convenient and enjoyable road trip.