The first installment of my Road Trip Tips series offered tips for sleeping in your vehicle. Now, it’s time to talk about the electronic gadgets you’re gonna need on the road.
No, not cell phones or laptops. I mean other gadgets that can make your life easier and save money at the same time.
Here are my three favorites; what are yours?
Buy a used or generic one if you must, just get your hands on one. You can find a decent GPS for under $100 these days, and it’s worth every penny. Not just to help you get where you’re going, but also to help you save money.
If you’re on a budget, the GPS gives you the ability to find the nearest Wendy’s or Subway, rather than having to eat at the first restaurant you run across. Or if you need supplies, you can use it to find the nearest Dollar Tree instead of having to pay more somewhere else.
The only perk I insist that my GPS have is the ability to read street names. The cheapest GPS devices don’t say the street names, which can be confusing when you’re traveling in big cities with six-way intersections and lots of freeway merging.
It’s way more convenient to hear your GPS say “Turn right on Maplewood Avenue” than just “Turn right.” You don’t have to keep looking at the GPS when you have one that talks.
These days, you can’t live without plugs for your chargers. Phone chargers, laptop chargers, camera chargers, electric shaver chargers… thank goodness I had a portable outlet.
This was an Amazon purchase in the range of $40 and I couldn’t live without it on road trips. It plugs right in to the cigarette lighter and provides current for two outlets. Make sure you buy one with all three prongs, to ensure compatibility with laptops and other devices that use all three.
Just as cooking meals at home is cheaper than eating out, the same is true when you travel. The mini-stove is a device that’s often overlooked, but it can help you eat cheaply and conveniently in your vehicle. I had countless lunches for less than $1 using this method. The stove is a huge money-saver, and it keeps you from eating fast food all the time.
For just $30, I found a stove on Amazon that looks like a lunchbox and plugs into the cigarette lighter. This saves tons of money because I’m able to buy lots of cans of ravioli, stew and chili and cook everything in the van. Just fold in a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, dump the food on top, and wait 20 minutes (yes, patience is required) for a hot meal. That’s some good eatin’!
What are your must-have gadgets while traveling?