What is summer without a road trip (or two or three)? Flying somewhere new has its rewards, but there’s nothing like a road good road trip. Road tripping has certainly gotten insanely easy since the days you had to bust out a paper map, but there are a few things to add to your checklist before taking off to help make sure the road is that much smoother.
Having a hands-free way to take phone calls is important when you’re on a road trip. (Unless you’re okay with powering down your phone or just letting the call slide until you hit the next rest area.) The Marque 2 is insanely lightweight and has an iPhone-esque design, noise-canceling technology that works well, and comes with flexible, silicon eartips to maximize comfort. Its battery can last 11 days on standby or up to 7 hours of active talking. And if you’re having trouble finding your headset, there is an app — Android-only — that will help you track it down.
SuperTooth HD ($130)
Earpieces aren’t for everyone, and if you hate them, there are other hands-free options. With the SuperTooth HD, you’ll get standard easy-to-access phone answering at the push of a large button, with voice-activated dialing. But beyond phone calls, this clip-on Bluetooth device is perfect for anyone who really needs to stay connected on the road. It can read and send texts and email, plus it keeps your social circle updated via Facebook and Twitter posts … all done by voice. (Note: reading incoming texts and emails is limited to Android and Blackberry phones.) You can expect as much as 20 hours of talk time or 41 days of standby in between charges.
Griffin SmartTalk Solar ($70)
Don’t need all the options as the aforementioned? Then save a little green with this simpler, solar powered hands-free speakerphone. The device stays fastened to your car’s windshield via suction cups, and automatically recharges itself as it soaks up solar energy. (Don’t worry if you have a serious run-in with crappy weather; there’s a back-up USB car charger, so you won’t be totally screwed.) With just four buttons — one for call answering/waiting, volume up, volume down, and mute — it’s sure to keep your eyes on the road, where they should be.
If you’re taking a road trip, you’d be silly to just pass over everything that’s between your start point and your destination. That’s half the fun! (Give up a chance to see Foamhenge? No way! Wanna roll on up to the largest ball of stamps? Yes, you do.) But capturing all this roadside fun without leaving anyone out of the photo is a challenge. This mini tripod has flexible legs that can work as a normal tripod, bend to grip onto something, or even stick to a metal surface because the legs are filled with magnets. The spring loaded grip holds onto your phone tightly, provided it’s between 2.1–2.8 inches wide (most phones are).
Sure, any GPS system you buy comes with its own windshield/dash mount, but let’s face it: you’re probably going to use your phone to make your way from point A to point Z. There are plenty of universal mounts out there, but we’re particularly fond of the Mi-T Grip Mount, both for its affordability and ability to stay adhered to both smooth and textured surfaces. The adjustable arms can expand from 2.25 inches to 3.5 inches, so they’ll fit just about any phone.
TYLT Y-Charge Dual USB Car Charger ($25-$35)
Using your phone as your primary GPS will take a toll on its battery. The sleek Y-shaped charger plugs into your car’s 12V outlet. Its two prongs can be used to charge your mobile device via USB plug. (The 2.1 version can simultaneously charge two smartphones; the 4.2 version can do the same as the latter, or power up a single tablet.)
Road trips are fun, but long stretches of highway can make for some restless kids. Yeah yeah, we know: back in the day, kids survived. But let’s be real: you wish you had cool crap to make a boring road trip zip by faster. It beats a slew of sing-alongs. To deal with the kids, strap one of these mounts to the back of your seat, provided it has a 2-post headrest, and dock your favorite tablet. It supports just about any 7–12-inch device. Then, fire up a movie, and enjoy a blissfully quiet trip. (Annoying dialogue from a movie you’ve had to watch 30 times notwithstanding.)
Breaking down on the side of the road sucks. Breaking down on the side of a dark, unlit road sucks even harder. Once upon a time, traditional flares may have been okay, but hey, when you can upgrade, why not? (Oh, these are also a whole hell of a lot safer to turn on…plus, they’re reusable.) One kit includes three flares — visible from as far as 1/2 mile away — two tripod mounts, and a case that also serves as a charging pod. Speaking of which, charging can be done via 120V wall charger, 12V car charger, or USB charger.