A car is so much more than a way to get around. Our vehicles are social spaces, music stages, offices, movie theaters, storage units, and just about everything in between.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans spent more than 84 billion hours driving during 2015, so it’s safe to say many of us spend a solid chunk of the day behind the wheel.
Sometimes, those chunks are great. You’re on the open road with the wind in your hair, hugging the turns while blasting your favorite song. Sometimes you’re stuck in traffic, watching cyclists overtake you in carbon-neutral protest. No matter where on the spectrum you lie, there are a bevy of gift ideas out there to either make a good road trip great or turn that freeway frown upside down. Here are some of our favorites.
A digital dashboard
You may associate head-up displays (HUDs) with fighter jets, and honestly that might be enough reason to purchase one right there. If not, consider the following — these high-tech devices display vehicle information like speed, navigation data, and real-time fuel economy onto the windshield to reduce distractions. They also happen to look really cool. Did we mention they’re used in fighter jets?
While some newer cars offer HUDs as factory equipment, there are a handful of quality aftermarket options to bring your old ride into the modern age. For our money, we like LEMSIR’s HUD for its multiple display modes, clear image, clean look, and low price.
Many people say their day doesn’t start until they’ve had their first cup of joe. Why not get a head start on that caffeine rush by brewing a pot while you drive?
The Nanopresso is a portable espresso machine that operates manually, no electricity or batteries needed. That means you can keep it in your vehicle and literally pump out delicious liquid energy no matter where the road takes you. Before taking off, simply fill the machine with ground coffee (or the brand’s Nespresso capsules, with adapter), pour boiling water into the tank, and before you know it, all is right in the world again.
An extra set of eyes
Dash cams are everywhere nowadays, and for good reason. Not only are they a unique way to document your travels, they can provide irrefutable proof of fault in the event of an accident. They can certainly come in handy in the case of insurance fraud as well, and if you’re lucky, you might just capture a viral YouTube clip.
In 2018, there are dozens of choices ranging from bare bones options to top-flight products with multiple lenses and advanced driver aids like lane-keeping warnings. We like the Rexing V1 for its affordable price, automatic collision detection, and 1080p resolution. It’s a useful gift for the rideshare driver in your life.
A mount for your mobile
Fumbling with your phone while driving is not just distracting and dangerous, it’s completely banned in many states. Thankfully there are countless phone mounts on the market, and whether they adhere to your dashboard, snap onto your air vent, or clip into your CD player, each will help you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
The iOttie Easy One Touch has long been one of the most popular products of its kind due to its intuitive mounting system that can be locked and released with the push of a finger. The One Touch also features an arm that extends up to 5 inches and an adjustable base for even more dexterity. At $25, the One Touch is affordable too, and it fits a variety of smartphones and cases.
Need a jump?
Imagine walking to your car in the morning, groggily sliding into the driver’s seat, and starting the ignition only to be met with a dull, unsatisfying click. Your battery is dead, and just like that, your day is off to a rough start. Sound familiar? With a portable jump starter, mornings like this can be a thing of the past.
The Tacklife T6 is a portable power pack that can jump start nearly any car, truck, or motorcycle in seconds. It’s small enough to fit inside a glovebox and weighs just 2.5 pounds, but with a full charge, it can bring a dead battery back to life up to 30 times. The days of lugging heavy, cumbersome jump boxes around are over.
It gets better though, because even if your car battery is fresh, the $70 T6 features two USB ports to charge your phone, tablet, Kindle, or other mobile device. The 12V outlet can power an air compressor as well if you get a flat, and there’s even a bright LED flashlight for roadside emergency situations. It’s the perfect gift for the driver in your life who gives you anxiety being on the road.