With gas prices cheaper than they’ve been in 11 years, more Americans are loading up their vehicles and taking road trips. In 2015, the Department of Transportation reported that Americans drove 3.15 trillion miles, beating the record established in 2007. Travel is up again in 2016, so we might smash even that record by year’s end. However, the modern family road trip looks a little different from the voyages we took last decade thanks to tech-savvy solutions like these.
A GPS Unit: Navigate Without the Fuss
Gone are the days of wrestling with oversized paper maps to reach your destination. Modern GPS units use satellite technology to pinpoint your location and tell you how to get where you’re going. Most smartphones have GPS apps that will do the job, but regular road trippers will find that dedicated GPS units are worth the money.
One of the most obvious advantages is that a dedicated GPS unit frees up your smartphone for a passenger to use. These units were also designed with driving in mind, so they come with windshield mounts and battery chargers. Their speakers are also loud enough to be heard over traffic noises and engines. Some sophisticated systems will even cut your car stereo when they make announcements. You’ll have to pay extra for a GPS app with advanced features like multipoint routine and lane guidance, but these come standard on most GPS units.
A Portable DVD Player: Entertain Kids With Movies
You might make every effort to limit screen time ordinarily, but a road trip is the ideal time to break the rules. A portable DVD player and a collection of your kids’ favorite movies should keep them distracted for hours.
There are many portable DVD players on the market with a wide range of sizes, specifications, and price points. However, it’s best to look for one with a 7- to 9-inch screen, as this can comfortably sit in a child’s lap. Also, make sure your portable player has a power adapter for the car so you don’t drain the battery on the journey.
Noise-Canceling Headphones: Tune Out the Rest of the World
When the kids start watching “Frozen” for the umpteenth time, high-quality noise-canceling earbuds are a godsend. They were designed to make classical concertos, big rocking riffs, and bass-heavy club tracks all sound their best. High-quality models promise to block nearly 100 percent of ambient noise, allowing you to listen to your favorite music and save your hearing. Look for ergonomically designed models with long battery lives so you can comfortably listen to them for your whole trip.
LED Emergency Road Flare Kit: Smart Technology for Crises
All travelers hope their road trips will go smoothly, but you’d be naïve to drive away unprepared for the worst. If things do go wrong on your journey, you’ll be glad you packed an LED emergency road flare kit.
Look for a pack with multiple flares that can create a visible border around your car in the event of a flat tire, a breakdown, or an accident. They’ll alert other motorists of your position and help out any emergency services personnel who are looking for you on dark country roads. Most LED road flares are visible up to half a mile away, so they’re much more powerful than your car’s hazard lights.
A Dash Cam: Record Your Road Trip
Dash cams have hit the headlines recently as clever tools for settling accident claims. If an accident occurs during your road trip, you’ll certainly appreciate the footage your dash cam captures. However, these clever gadgets can do much more than document unpleasant moments.
Your dash cam can also capture the special moments during your road trip: those impromptu singalongs and drives through some of the most scenic parts of the country. Edit your dash cam footage to create a fantastic souvenir of your time behind the wheel.
We’re not saying that they’ll put an end to arguments over directions and impatient children in the backseat, but these tech-savvy solutions can certainly make your next family road trip much easier.
Image via Flickr by -Patxi Izkue-