Hit the road, Jack or Jill. But before you do, make sure you also pack some tech tools to help you get the most out of your trip with friends or family.
Whether it’s gadgets to keep you on track, entertained, or in touch with those who matter, there are countless devices worthy of being a travel companion.
The following are a few high-tech suggestions to get you going in the right direction.
1. Wham Bam, Thank You Cam
Once reserved for police vehicles and storm chasers, dashboard cameras—or dashcams, for short—are becoming a popular gadget for civilian drivers.
Suctioned onto a vehicle’s windshield or mounted to a dashboard, the Garmin Dash Cam 30 ($129; Best Buy) continuously records both high-definition video and audio from a first-person perspective, so you not only have a record of your adventures but also photographic evidence in the event of an accident.
Along with its wide-angle lens and crisp 720p HD quality, the device’s “incident detection” sensor automatically saves and locks a file you might need to show the authorities at some point.
2. Power Play
Question: What fits in your vehicle’s cup holder, but lets you keep three things charged up? The answer is the AllPowerSupply Power Inverter ($95; walmart.ca).
Featuring 400 watts of peak power, this one doohickey has a standard grounded AC outlet, for larger items like a laptop, as well as two USB ports to charge up smartphones, tablets, activity trackers, Bluetooth headphones, and more.
Available in black and with a flip-up lid for when you need it, the AllPowerSupply has an On/Off switch so it doesn’t continuously suck power from the car’s battery, via the 12V (“cigarette lighter”) port.
3. Jump Start
A portable back-up battery is a must-have for any traveler as they can juice up your devices, whenever and wherever (yes, even outside of the vehicle).
However, one model is even handier for road trippers. Not only can the Gooloo Peak Car Jump Starter ($159; amazon.ca) power your smartphone, tablet, and even some laptops with its dual USB ports, but this compact 19800mAh battery can also jumpstart your vehicle up to 20 times, via the familiar red and black clamps.
In other words, you can avoid the need to call emergency roadside assistance or flag down someone for help on the highway. This black and yellow battery also has an integrated LED light to see under your hood at night. Clever!
4. Phone It In
Arguably the most important tool in a traveler’s arsenal is a smartphone, but which one you go with boils down to personal taste (and budget). Consider it a digital Swiss Army Knife that can perform several tasks: it’s your communication tool to keep in touch with family and friends; it’s a GPS navigation unit to keep you on track; it’s a camera and a camcorder to capture your memories; it’s a pocket web browser to help you look up online information; and it can even be your wallet if you’ve activated any of the mobile payment apps. Like my trusty Samsung Galaxy S9+ (from $379 on a 2-year plan; Samsung.ca), many phones today are waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet.
5. Flip Through This
If you’d like a tablet to flick through movies, photos, and games when you reach your destination, but also appreciate a full-sized keyboard to type up a travel blog post or write lengthy emails, you can have the best of both worlds with the ASUS Vivobook Flip TP200SA ($349; staples.ca), an affordable and portable 11.6-inch “2-in-1”—also referred to as a “convertible” laptop—that serves as a laptop when you need it and a tablet when you want it.
That is, whenever you don’t have a need for the keyboard and trackpad, bend back the touchscreen on its 360-degree hinge and place the Windows 10 device on your lap like a tablet to flick, pinch, and swipe away.