Summer is officially here, which means it’s time to start planning one of the great traditions of the season: the summer road trip. Whether you’re going to an amusement park one state over, or traversing the entire country on a weeks-long trip, traveling by car is one of the best ways to connect with the best that this country has to offer. A good road trip meanders and makes the journey just as important as the destination; a good road trip has no rules. There are, however, a few helpful suggestions. First, make sure the car is overstocked with an assortment of the most unhealthy gas station snacks imaginable. And secondly, make sure you’ve got the essential summer road trip gear. Here’s our list of things that will make your auto excursion safer, more convenient and more enjoyable.
GoPro Hero5 Black
If you went on a road trip, but didn’t take any pictures or videos, did it really even happen? A good camera is essential to any adventure. And while most smartphones do a bang-up job of taking pics and vids, they also run the risk of getting, well, banged-up. Opt instead for an action cam like the GoPro Hero5 Black. While not the highest model in the GoPro lineup, it sits firmly at the crossroads of value and performance. Take 4K video and 12-megapixel stills of all of your adventures, then edit on the go with the GoPro app. A range of accessories means the Hero5 will go with you just about anywhere—including underwater—while voice control lets you get that content even when your hands are holding on to a cliffside for dear life.
Portable GPS Unit
We can already hear the scoffs, but give us a second to make our case. While every smartphone on the market does a great job of directing you on your daily commute, there are still a few good reasons to invest in a standalone car GPS unit, especially for a big trip across the expanses of this great country. First is simple redundancy. You can dedicate one device solely to navigation, while your own smartphone handles the music streaming and your co-pilot whiles away the day playing mobile games. You don’t have to worry about trying to take a call while your smartphone is barking directions at you. But the primary reason for a GPS unit is if you’re traveling off the beaten path. Dedicated GPS units store their entire maps on the device itself, whereas a smartphone GPS only loads a bit of map at a time, updating the view as you travel by downloading the map from cloud servers. If you hit an area with zero cell coverage, you’ll also lose navigation functions. A Garmin GPS will have every bit of map, covering every bit of road, available at all times, even when it’s been miles since you last had bars. And with base models starting at just a hundred bucks, you don’t have to make a big investment for some extra peace of mind.
Yeti Water Bottle
One of the best pieces of advice for any vacation (and even just regular everyday life) is to stay hydrated! You might not think about it while you’re sitting in a car all day—and you’re probably hoping to avoid too many pee breaks—but it’s easy to get dehydrated if you’re driving in the heat. And when you’re in a car all day long, there’s no better way to keep cold drinks cold than a Yeti water bottle. Yeti’s insulating abilities set the standard by which all other water bottles and coolers are judged. This baby will keep ice intact for over 24 hours, even with the summer sun beating through your windshield while your car is at the trailhead. You can find ’em in a variety of colors and sizes, so there’s bound to be one perfect for your needs.
Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
A killer playlist is an absolute road trip requirement, but the music doesn’t have to stop when the driving does. A wireless Bluetooth speaker like the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom lets you take your tunes wherever you go, from the beach to the backcountry. It’s waterproof and built rugged enough to survive a five-foot drop, and the integrated lanyard lets you clip it onto your bag. The Wonderboom’s battery is good for up to 10 hours of playtime, while the 360° speakers put out sound in every direction. For a real party, pair two UE Wonderboom speakers together for even bigger sound. This essential piece of road trip gear comes in a variety of colors—see them all at Abt.com.
This one should go without saying. A good pair of sunglasses are the one thing you never want to be without when you’re on a road trip. Besides making you look fabulous in the countless photos you’re likely to take, they’ll also protect your eyes from the damaging effects of that big summer sun, and prevent eye fatigue during long stretches on the road. Whether you’ve got a square face or a round one, whether your trip takes you hiking through the Rocky Mountains or sight-seeing in Beverly Hills, there’s something for you in our selection of men’s and women’s sunglasses.
If you’re traveling with a bunch of gadgets—especially if you’ll be camping or staying somewhere without easy access to electricity—it’s important to keep everything charged up. Instead of sourcing car chargers for all of your devices, consider an electrical inverter like the Tripp-Lite PowerVerter. These devices plug into the 12-volt socket in your car and transform its DC power into 120V AC power (the kind you’d get from a household electrical outlet), so you can charge your laptop, camera batteries, and all of your other gadgets with their standard wall chargers.