Road trips are a great way to explore new areas, giving you more flexibility and control over your travel plans. However, road trips also come with their fair share of annoyances, from traffic to vehicle issues to feeling worn out after a long day of driving.
Whether you’re heading out on a vacation or just trying to get from point A to point B, there are several road trip essentials to help alleviate some of the most common travel irritants. When making your road trip packing list, be sure to get these useful car essentials and products, so you can have a more enjoyable and memorable experience.
Ideally, the perfect road trip driving conditions would consist of open roads and empty highways, but that isn’t usually how it turns out. Traffic is an all too common issue for road trippers, especially when driving through major cities or near construction zones.
If you are on a tight schedule, you can help account for the occasional delay by allowing yourself extra time to reach your destination. Another way to avoid congested areas is to invest in GPS navigation technology with live traffic updates.
Some people may choose to use their smartphone for navigation, but that can quickly deplete the battery while also using large amounts of data. This Garmin GPS enables hands-free calling and comes with the Alexa voice assistant. This Garmin portable GPS has a large, easy-to-see display, providing live weather and traffic conditions, so you can choose the fastest route; sends you traffic alerts for school zones, sharp turns and speed changes for safer driving; and contains a directory of parks, historic sites, and other roadside attractions that may pique your interest.
Besides traffic, vehicle issues like a flat tire and dead battery can put a damper on your trip. There are also safety concerns if you get stuck in extreme weather conditions or an area that experiences a lot of crime. The best way to avoid letting these annoyances ruin your plans is to feel comfortable performing basic vehicle maintenance and having the necessary equipment readily available.
Knowing how to change a tire on your own will help save you time and money, but you’ll want a reliable car jack to help get the job done. This model is compact for convenient storage and features a 3,000-pound capacity.
The last thing you’ll want to deal with before heading out on a long drive is a dead car battery. Luckily, having a durable and heavy-duty set of jumper cables will get your vehicle back in working condition without much hassle. These Energizer cables can be used on trucks, SUVs and cars, providing 25 feet of range.
When driving directly into the sunrise or sunset or when driving past reflective surfaces like water or snow, the glare can severely affect your field of vision. By keeping a pair of polarized sunglasses handy, you can avoid the blinding rays.
If you want to drive in style while also keeping your eyes protected from harsh ultraviolet rays, these Ray-Ban sunglasses for men and women offer a timeless look and classic appeal. While they can be useful as driving glasses, they are also ideal for everyday wear.
If you wear prescription glasses, a pair of clip-on sunglasses will likely be the best option. These affordable polarized lenses will make driving in the bright sun safer and less distracting. There are several different sizes available depending on your existing frames.
Since drivers aren’t the only ones who have to deal with the sun, these roll-down car window shades are great for blocking bright sunlight for backseat passengers, especially when traveling with young kids.
It can be difficult to stay alert and focused on the road for extended periods, and fatigue can often lead to impaired driving. If you feel tired, it is always best to pull over and take a break or have someone else take the wheel. Still, a hot cup of coffee can provide the pick-me-up needed for longer stretches.
When you do decide it’s time for a nap, having a comfortable memory foam travel pillow will help you feel well-rested and ready to put in more miles. This model also packs down into a travel bag so you can fit it virtually anywhere in your vehicle.
For younger kids, the long hours spent stuck in the car can seem endless. That’s why keeping them entertained by playing games can help alleviate some of the boredom. Listening to music or watching movies are other great ways to pass the time.
I Spy is a road trip classic, and this version will keep kids of all ages interested in the scenery as they search for the objects pictured on the cards. You can play this card game with just a single player or get everyone involved.
This Amazon Fire tablet is designed for kids ages 3 to 7 and comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, giving them access to an extensive collection of books, games, videos and apps, completely ad-free. The kids tablet runs for up to 10 hours on a single charge with a durable protective case. For your peace of mind, there are also parental controls to manage the content your children access.
Other drivers can often be one of the most annoying aspects of a road trip, especially if they aren’t paying attention or are driving dangerously. Having a dashboard camera can help keep you protected in case of any minor accidents or other issues.
This extremely compact dashboard camera can record everything happening around your vehicle in high-definition quality, including automatic recording and saving video footage of driving or parking incidents. It has a voice-control feature and sports a GPS that records your exact location for accuracy and reliability.
When nature calls, it can sometimes feel like an eternity until the next exit. By planning out stops every so often, especially before driving through more remote or desolate areas, you’ll have the opportunity to stretch and go to the bathroom before the next leg of your trip. Stopping every few hours will also let you experience more of the local attractions and scenery that you might have otherwise passed up.
No one wants to be stuck on the side of the road with an empty gas tank. To ensure that you don’t find yourself in this situation, try not to let your vehicle’s gas gauge drop too low, which is particularly important in remote locations. There are also a number of smartphone apps that will help locate nearby gas stations so you can stay on top of your refueling schedule.
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.