Road Trip! What Techie Gear Should I Bring?

Guest Post by Dave Taylor,

Q: My kids and I want to go on a road trip once school is out. I think we’re ready to go now, actually, but while we wait, we prepare. Now, what gear and electronics do you recommend for a road trip?

A: I’ve driven a lot of miles in my time, to Seattle, San Francisco, Bozeman, Chicago, even Boston, all with a starting point of Boulder. That’s a lot of miles and a lot of experience with bad wi-fi, speed traps, hotels with horrible TV service and more.

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On the road in Wyoming.

As a result, I do have a stack of gear I like to bring with on a trip, and it breaks down into two categories: devices for in the car, and devices to make staying in small towns and budget hotels more pleasant.

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Berthoud Pass near Breckenridge, Colorado.

In the car, your best investment is a multi-plug car charger. Most people don’t even realize that you can get a plug for that 12V “cigarette lighter” that can charge two or even three devices at a time. Keeps the kids happy too. Lots of options on Amazon for this.

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In addition, though I don’t speed, I like to have a radar detector. It’s just a fact of life that while you’re almost always safe driving a few miles over the limit, some small town cops set up speed traps and will ticket you even if you’re a single mile per hour over the posted limit. A radar detector like the Escort Max 360c does one better too because it uses crowdsourced data to help you identify photo traps and other dangerous areas that might not have the cop using an actual radar device.

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Northwest Colorado near Fort Morgan.

In a hotel room, having your own wifi hotspot can be a great way to ensure both good performance and security. Heck, some hotels charge by the device, so a hotspot like the slick AT&T Netgear “Nighthawk” can pay for itself in a week. Oh, and they work great while you’re in transit too if your kids are dying to download the latest Netflix show.

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More than the Internet, however, my most essential item for a hotel room is a sound machine. And there’s no better choice than the iHome Zenergy Sound & Light Therapy unit. Not only does it have great sounds to cover up the noise of neighboring rooms, but there’s a fun light therapy feature you can use too.

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Between Boulder and Lyons, Colorado.

Finally, a long HDMI cable and smartphone or tablet adapter means you can watch whatever you want. With SlingTV, Netflix and iTunes, we have hundreds of channels and vast libraries of pre-recorded content at our fingertips, all without paying a single on-demand charge. A definite win.

So that’s my set of recommendations. But wait, here are two more quick ones: Always have a spare charging cable and never apply system updates while on the road. Just trust me on that latter one.


Dave Taylor has been involved with the online world since before the creation of the Internet and runs the popular Ask Dave Taylor tutorial site. You can also find AskDaveTaylor on Facebook and chat on Twitter with him at @DaveTaylor.

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