After spending the last year working from home and adjusting to pandemic restrictions, don’t be surprised if you see more people heading out on road trips in the coming months. And what better time to hit the road than during the summer? Road trips provide one of the safer (and, often, more scenic) routes of travel, and are certainly appealing if you’d like to bypass crowded airports and long ticket lines.
But before you hit the road, there are a few essentials that will make the trip easier. From portable car fans to charging decks and smart water bottles, we’ve put together a collection of some of the cooler gizmos and gadgets to purchase for your next road trip. See our roundup of must-have electronics below, and for more money-saving shopping guides, check out these summer tech deals.
While most newer-model cars already have navigation, it doesn’t hurt to have an external GPS device. The Garmin DriverSmart 65 GPS voice-activated navigator features turn-by-turn directions on a bright, 6.95” edge-to-edge touchscreen display. The navigation system includes traffic and map updates, alternate routes, speed warnings, and 3D graphics. You can also pair it with a GPS compatible smartphone for handsfree calling, smart notifications, and live traffic via the Garmin Drive App.
Keeping your electronics charged isn’t always easy on road trips, especially when there are multiple people in the car. A portable charging station is good to have for travel, but also if your power happens to go out. This HALO Bolt portable charging station packs 58,830 mWh — enough to charge phones, tablets, computers, and even jumpstart a car. It’s still lightweight and compact (though it can’t fit in a pocket, it can definitely still fit in a purse, satchel, or backpack). It weighs just 1.66 pounds, and comes with a car charger, 120V AC wall outlet, two USB phone chargers, and a whole car emergency kit — LED flood light, battery jump starter, jumper cables, and carrying pouch.
It can get pretty hot during summer car rides, and if you don’t want to use air conditioning, an adjustable car fan is the next best option. The fans are designed to fit on dashboards, as well as rear set fans for headrests. These 5V USB electric car fans from Rainbean feature portable dual heads with three different speeds. Each fan can be turned on and off separately, and you can secure them using 3M tape to install in your vehicle.
If you’re familiar with Bose SoundLink speakers, the Color II are similar to the Micro, particularly in regards to their bold sound quality. It’s waterproof with a durable silicone exterior, and uses the Bose app in addition to Siri and Google assistant compatibility. The Color II lasts for up to eight hours per charge, and weights 1.2 pounds. The speaker comes in a few fun colors (Aqua Blue, Citron, or Coral Red), as well as a standard Soft Black, Polar White, or Midnight Blue. An auxiliary jack allows you to connect a non-Bluetooth device, and you can operate it via battery or AC power.
Apple’s iPad mini is a good handheld device for trips, namely because it’s portable enough to whip out and snap HD photos on the go. This 2019 Apple iPad Mini is powered by the A12 bionic chip (same for 2019 iPhones); it has a 7.9″ Retina screen with True Tone technology, an HD front-facing camera, and 64GB of storage.
Staying hydrated is essential for all kinds of travel, and the HidrateSparks is designed to help you do just that. This 17 oz. bottle is stainless steel vacuum insulated, which keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours. The water bottle has an LED smart sensor that glows to remind you when it’s time to drink water, and you can track your water intake by syncing the bottle to the HidrateSparks app via Bluetooth. The Hidrate STEEL Smart Water Bottle is available in a range of different colors, including black, stainless steel, and pink. The straw and lids are also interchangeable.
Capture every moment on the road with the GoPro Hero 8 camera. Recommended for pro shooters, the Hero 8 features 4K resolution with 12MP to deliver amazing action shots, and stunning video. It’s waterproof up to 33 feet and has four lenses (narrow, distortion-free linear shooting, wide, and SuperView), plus three microphones for high-fidelity audio with reduced wind noise. If you’d rather another design, check out out our list of great digital cameras and instant cameras.
It can get messy out on the road. The Baseus Handheld Cordless Vacuum is a great little portable vacuum for your car and home. It has advanced cyclone technology with two suction powers of 1000Pa and 15000Pa, both of which can be adjusted as needed. It’s designed to clean and remove dust, debris, cat litter, pet hair, and other annoying residues. The vacuum cleaner comes equipped with interchangeable nozzles, a built-in 8000mAh lithium battery and USB charging cable, and fast charging (3-4 hours full charge), with a running time of 20-45 minutes.