Tools for the road that can improve the driving and riding experience every mile along the way. (Dreamstime/TNS)
ATLANTA — Crumbs, odors, discomfort — they can all ruin a good road trip with the family. For children, sitting in a vehicle for hours on end can be daunting. For parents who are unprepared, a road trip can be derailed by gas station stops for last-minute supplies. Ensure your road trip doesn’t bring the family fun on your vacation to a screeching halt by gearing up before the big drive.
Here are a number of different items that can improve the driving and riding experience every mile along the way.
Voice activate your space
Music and movies are road trip staples, but they can be dangerous. Taking your hand — and your attention — off of the wheel can lead to tragedy on the road.
Keep your family safe, and your record clean, by using Apple’s Car Play or Android’s Auto systems to make your vehicle’s entertainment center voice activated.
1. Plug your phone into your vehicle’s dashboard.
2. Activate the Car Play or Auto feature from your phone.
3. If your vehicle features a voice to speech button, press it. Otherwise, say “Hey, Siri” for iPhones or “Ok, Google” for Androids to enable voice activation.
To increase the safety of your drive even further, consider purchasing a radar detector. A high quality radar detector comes equipped with a GPS to ensure that you can find your destination in areas with spotty phone service. The detector will also keep you notified of what’s ahead — traffic lights, speed limit changes, traffic — ensuring that your road trip is as efficient and safe as it is fun.
For children, long road trips can be daunting. It can be difficult to stay in one place for hours on end without some distraction. Keep your kids entertained by purchasing a tablet and installing a collection of child-friendly games.
Gel seat cushions
Sitting in one place for hours can become uncomfortable, especially for people who suffer from back pain. Take the stress off of your body and your mind off of the discomfort by bringing along a quality gel seat cushion that better supports your spine.
Using a gel seat cushion will help ensure that you are not only comfortable for the ride to your vacation spot, but that you are also ready and capable of moving around freely and enjoying yourself when you reach your destination.
Car diagnostic scanner
Many miles from home, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a broken-down car. So, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape before the rubber meets the road.
Taking your vehicle to a local mechanic’s shop can be costly and time consuming, but there is another way. A car diagnostic scanner, which can be purchased online or at many auto parts retailers, will allow you to check your car’s engine, ABS, airbags and other features in real time. This is a quick, inexpensive way to ensure your vehicle is ready for the road before every vacation trip.
With the whole family packed inside, your vehicle may start to pick up a unique aroma after some time on the road. Consider purchasing a high-end air freshener to keep things smelling pleasant for the whole drive.
Regular air fresheners can be useful in a pinch, but consider using an essential oil diffuser for a more relaxing and long-lasting effect.
While your family will hopefully never need it, an emergency kit is a must have for any road trip. A good emergency kit will feature medical supplies for any bumps or bruises your family may suffer when out and about on vacation, as well as jumper cables and everything else a driver needs in the event of a vehicle breakdown.
Car vacuum cleaner
Keeping your car clean can go a long way on any lengthy road trip. The crumbs and plastic wrappings from mid-trip snack breaks will begin to pile up on the seats and floorboards, adding to the odor of the car and creating a tasty snack for any nearby ants.
A handheld vacuum cleaner can give you a way to keep the crumbs at a minimum during your periodic rest stops along the way to your vacation spot.
— Tribune News Service