I’m a gadget geek. There, I admitted it. I love them, I envy those who have them, and I lust after the latest and greatest. And I know that you are JUST… LIKE… ME. When you’re taking a road trip, leaving home without a gadget feels like leaving behind a limb. Not necessarily essential, but pretty awkward without it. With that lovely thought in mind, I’ve concocted a list here of 7 Gadgets you must have on any road trip. Travel well, my friends.
- Smartphone – Devices like the iPhone and the Droid are quickly becoming indispensable travel accessories. With built in GPS, maps, the internet, and a phone, it’s a wonder how we got around without them at all. There are tons of apps in the various app stores that are mini guidebooks as well, and the variety gets bigger every day. Of course, you’re likely to miss all the good stuff if your gob is glued to this toy all day.
- Apple iPad – Forget lugging around that evil brick they call “laptop.” Most of those things will burn the top two layers of skin off your legs if you use them too long anyway. The iPad is a great, portable way to stay connected on the road. Grab the 3G version so you can get access to the web anywhere there’s 3G service. Sure, it’s basically a giant iPhone, but its size (about as big as a small magazine) is one of its best features, allowing easy consumption. Movies, magazines, books, newspapers, TV shows… all available on the iPad, and all great ways to pass the time on the road.
- Digital camera – We’re in an age of constant documentation. Future generations will be so inundated with photos of kittens and sunsets, they may believe we were some kind of early evening feline worshipers. Either way, a digital camera, like the Olympus PEN E-P2 is a must have on any travel adventure. High megapixels (for that wall-sized poster of the Paul Bunyan statue your wife will glare at disapprovingly), image stabilization (to capture the look on that bear’s face as you run away in terror [not recommended]), and good low light capabilities (to see the looks of sheer sugar fueled delight as your kids down s’mores around the campfire) are some of the features to look for in a good camera.
- Portable Video Camera – A video camera like the Flip UltraHD Camcorder will allow you to capture all your road trip hijinx in stunning high definition. For me, this one is a must have because it’s small, ultra portable, and plugs directly into your laptop so you can edit the Ultimate Road Trip Adventure Movie™ right there on the road. Speculation says you might be able to edit right on the iPad in future updates, but for now, you’ll have to stick with a notebook computer (*Note: I’ve just been informed that you can import 640×480 video onto the iPad, but you can’t do anything with it, and you can’t import HD video. How useful. Thanks to Mike from Geekistry for the hattip). Or wait until you get home. But how are you going to blog about it on the road if you wait?
- GPS – This one is kind of a no brainer. If you’ve brought your smartphone, you may not need a GPS unit, but a standalone unit like the Garmin Nuvi 1690 may give you more bang for your buck. These units are usually a bit more feature rich than the smartphone versions. For instance, The Garmin features Garmin’s NuLink data service, which provides traffic data, fuel prices, and Google Search for points of interest. Whichever device you go with, it’s worth the peace of mind knowing you’ll probably never get lost. Probably.
- USB Rechargeable batteries. They are the bane of our existence, but they are the essential lifeblood of our devices: batteries. Pick up a few of these little bad boys and you won’t have to worry about finding a 7-11 in the middle of western Nebraska at 3AM.
- FM Transmitter – Don’t leave home with out this, especially if you have your smartphone or mp3 player loaded with enough tunes to get you through a month on the road. An FM transmitter, like the Monster RadioPlay 300 turns your iPod into a mini radio station, broadcasting a signal strong enough to hit your car’s radio without interfering with your fellow road warriors. This is essential if you’re renting a car, since you never know what kind of music system will be installed.