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Tech for Road Trips

Date Published: 02/18/2018 | Author: Best Buy

"We all had such a fun road trip together." If the words "fun" and "road trip" in the same sentence sound like a bit of a stretch, you're in the right place to learn how to transform those rough trips into adventures you can enjoy.

Anyone who's taken a long road trip with the family knows that keeping everyone happy over the long haul can be a tall order. But it doesn't have to be that way. We have suggestions on tech gadgets that can keep everyone entertained throughout your road trip — even over those long stretches of humdrum highways.

When you finally do arrive at one of your destination, we have travel tech suggestions to make the best parts of your trip even better. Exploring famous landmarks and scenic vistas, such as the breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon, can become even more fun and memorable with the right tech on board.

Last, but certainly not least, having the safest possible trip is undeniably important, and our selection of road-trip safety tech can help you succeed here too.

On-the-Road Entertainment

Having a virtual library of in-vehicle entertainment at the ready is a great way to keep all the troops happy. Especially the little ones. Watching movies and TV shows or playing video games are sure-fire ways to put the kibosh on back-seat complaints.

When it comes to car video and DVD players, we have several excellent alternatives for you to consider. Perhaps you want the grab-and-go versatility of a portable DVD player or a Nintendo Switch handheld gaming console. Alternatively, you may want the no-hassle convenience of a road-ready mobile video setup that's permanently installed in your vehicle.

If you opt to go with an installed system, your options include headrest DVD systems, overhead DVD systems and in-dash receivers. Although in-dash models are not nearly as practical for keeping the kids entertained from the back seat. If, like a lot of youngsters, your kids agree on almost nothing, you may want to consider one DVD player in each headrest to eradicate those what-to-watch squabbles. Regardless of the system you choose, wireless headphones are practically a must. That way, each of your kids can do their own thing without you having to listen to twenty repeat showings of Toy Story or Paw Patrol between St. Louis and San Diego.

If you go the portable route, such as handheld gaming, portable DVD players, tablets and wireless headphones, you'll need to bring chargers to keep those devices running. For the devices that don't come with a car charger, a power inverter is a great way to keep everything charged while on the road. Power inverters come with a DC adapter that plugs into your vehicle's lighter outlet. They convert your vehicle's DC power into household or AC electricity, and have one or more standard AC outlets into which you can plug your household chargers.

Now, on to the best part. With the kids happily entertained, let's not forget that it's the adults who actually run the show. For on-the-road entertainment that's easier for you to relate to, it's tough to beat satellite radio. Two advantages of satellite radio include the fact that you'll be able to get crystal-clear reception even when you're nowhere near a major city, and that it can be added to many existing car stereo systems. Plus, with a practically endless variety of listening choices, satellite radio provides options in virtually every imaginable musical genre, along with anything from talk radio and news, to sports and comedy.

Exploring Tourist Destinations

Imagine your road trip takes you through the majestic Rocky Mountains or Yellowstone National Park. Or maybe you're admiring a man-made marvel, such as the Hoover Dam. You'll want to get out and take a look, even spend a few hours taking in these national treasures. You've got your camera, of course, but why not document the kids' excitement with a 4K action camera or camcorder. After all, a family video to pass down to the kids someday could be something they treasure forever.

If the image quality from your current camera or smartphone camera leave something to be desired, you may want to invest in a higher-megapixel point-and-shoot camera. Today's point-and-shoot cameras have more megapixels of resolution than those of just a few years ago, to provide remarkably good image quality. But if you're interested in documenting your trip in professional-quality landscape shots, intricate close-ups or high-resolution enlargements, a mirrorless camera or a DSLR is just the ticket. Either one provides larger image sensors for even higher quality, along with the ability to change lenses.

Lastly, don't forget to pick up a selfie stick for when you want to get everyone in the shot — perfect for posting online and making yourselves the envy of all the folks back home.

Travel Safety

Perhaps you're the type who researched all the government crash-test ratings to make sure your vehicle is a top safety pick. Maybe you meticulously maintain your vehicle. Or, maybe, not so much. No worries. Either way, our travel tech safety devices can help you have a safer trip and be prepared for the unexpected.

For starters, a diagnostic tracker installed in your vehicle will provide you with easy-to-understand alerts and diagnoses of anything that's not running quite right, helping you avoid serious breakdowns. And if you leave your lights on, lock your keys in the car, or you actually do have a breakdown, an associated smartphone app can provide 24/7 emergency roadside assistance at the touch of a button. Plus, some vehicle diagnostic trackers even include crash detection to automatically dispatch emergency services in the event of an accident.

One of the best ways to stay safe on the road is to simply avoid speeding. If you or the other drivers in your family have a habit of getting a bit lead-footed when not paying attention, diagnostic trackers and radar detectors can both be set to alert you whenever you exceed the speed limit. That can save you gas and money, and it can reduce your chances of having an accident.

Nobody wants to think about it, but let's suppose you do have an accident. Luckily nobody's hurt, but the guy who hit you is telling the highway patrol that it's your fault when you know he ran a red light. Or, worse yet, he hit you and then sped away from the scene. With a dash camera installed in your vehicle, you'll have a video documenting the entire incident.

Another safety device you may want to consider is a backup camera to give you a clear view of anything directly behind you. It could spare your vehicle and your pocketbook from the damage of backing over a misplaced bike. More importantly, it could prevent you from ever backing into a small child or animal you couldn't see.

While traveling across any unfamiliar territory, or simply cruising the scenic route for that matter, there are two must-have devices. First off, a lot of folks prefer to use the GPS navigation of a dedicated GPS receiver to that of their smartphone. That's not only because of the easy-to-read maps and clear turn-by-turn directions GPS receivers provide, but also because they free up your smartphone for calls, texts or researching other things online. GPS receivers feature up-to-date maps of virtually every road imaginable and are also great for helping you find restaurants, gas stations, tourist attractions, doctors, pharmacies and more.

You may have already guessed that the second must-have travel device is your smartphone. You already know all the things it can do, but there are a couple of indispensable smartphone travel tech accessories you may also want to invest in. First off, consider getting car cell phone chargers for all your phones. After all, what good is your smartphone with a dead battery? And, if your excursions include a few side trips somewhere between the backwoods and the boondocks, cell phone signal boosters are a great way to get more bars even when you've ventured off the beaten track.

Lastly, in case it's your car that loses power, you may also want to bring a compact external battery, such as the mophie Powerstation, so you still have a means of charging your cell phone in a pinch. And, if it's user error that killed your car's battery, as opposed to real electrical failure (like leaving the lights or dome light on), a portable jump starter/battery pack can provide the juice you need to jump start your car — no jump-start vehicle or emergency road service required.

Road Trip Checklist

Whether it's about safety, convenience, preserving the memories, or keeping the whole gang entertained, having all the right travel tech on board goes a long way toward making your road trip a success. Your packing list of exactly which devices and accessories are right for you will probably be as unique and individual as your family and travel plans.

On-the-Road Entertainment

  • Installed DVD player, portable DVD player, satellite radio, gaming console, portable handheld gaming, gaming controllers, wireless headphones, portable device chargers, DVD movies and TV shows, video games, power inverter

Tourist Stops

  • Action camera or camcorder, point-and-shoot camera, mirrorless or DSLR camera, extra camera lenses, camera battery charger, extra camera batteries, lens filters, selfie stick

Travel Safety

  • Vehicle diagnostic tracker, radar detector, dashboard camera, backup camera, portable USB charger, jump starter/external battery, car cell phone charger, cell phone signal booster, GPS receiver

Installation

When it comes to installing your travel tech, you'll not only want it done right, but you'll also want it neatly integrated into your vehicle for a factory-installed appearance. We get that. That's why our Geek Squad® Autotechs are expertly trained in all aspects of mobile installations. We can provide fully guaranteed professional installation of all your road trip electronics from car stereo receivers and GPS systems, to DVD players and monitors, satellite radios, dash cams, backup cameras, vehicle diagnostic systems, radar detectors and more.

Check out Car Electronics Installations page, or contact the Geek Squad Autotechs at your local Best Buy to learn more.

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