14 Best Road Trip Gadgets
Taking a road trip is one of the most fun things you can do with friends and family, but do you have everything you need? Beyond a full tank of gas, you'll want to have a charger to keep everyone's gadgets powered, a mount to keep your phone at eye level (great for GPS navigation) and a cooler to keep those iced coffees icy.
You'll also want to keep everyone entertained in the back seat, which is why it's great to bring a hotspot, a Bluetooth receiver for streaming tunes and a portable gaming console. And if you run into car trouble? We've got travel tech to help you there, too.
Based on our testing and research, these are the best road trip gadgets to take along on your next adventure.
Vogek Car Charger
You don't have to fight over who gets to charge their gadgets first on your next trip. Unlike many car chargers that have only one or two ports, the Vogek charger has four of them, allowing you to juice multiple devices at once. The Vogek doesn't support Qualcomm Quick Charge technology, but if you're in the market for a simple car charger and you like the idea of paying just $10 to get one, this is a winner.
Tryone Car Headrest Mount
It's OK to be lazy. This headrest mount and holder is an outstanding option when your kids (or you) are in the backseat and don't feel like holding a smartphone, tablet or Nintendo Switch during the long ride. It's especially great for leaning back to watch a show or movie.
The affordable Tryone Car headrest mount attaches to the bars that support your front-seat headrests. The mount itself can be configured to increase or decrease in size to accommodate devices with screen sizes ranging from 4 inches to 10.1 inches. You can also adjust the headrest mount's angle to ensure the best viewing experience.
One of the biggest problems with traveling is keeping track of all the important stuff you've brought along with you. And that's why the Tile Mate is such an important gadget.
The Tile Mate, which costs $20 for a single unit, is a Bluetooth-connected tracker that you can connect to your keys, your smartphone, or just about anything else. Once it's connected and working with the Tile app, you'll be able to see in real time whatever you're looking for. The Tile Mate offers a year-long battery life, so even if you lose something for a few days, the device's tracking function will keep working.
iOttie Easy One Touch 4
Whether you're using GPS navigation and you don't want to be distracted or you just want to be able to quickly change music tracks on the go, the iOttie Easy One Touch 4 puts your phone at eye level and within easy reach. It's so handy that it's our top pick among car phone holders.
The accessory attaches to your car and acts as a phone holder that's compatible with iPhones and Android devices. Simply place your phone in the cradle and close the arms on the side around your handset to keep it snug. Then when you drive, you can quickly glance at the screen without ever needing to hold your phone in one hand.
Mpow Bluetooth 4.1 Receiver 2-in-1
If you're tired of fiddling with the car radio dial during road trips, the Mpow Bluetooth 4.1 Receiver 2-in-1 is for you. The device, which tested best among bluetooth car adapters, plugs into your car's auxiliary port and allows you to take hands-free calls and listen to music wirelessly via Bluetooth.
The Mpow receiver also has buttons on it, so you can turn your music on and off and answer a call with ease. Not only will the Mpow make your ride more convenient, but it should also allow for a safer ride.
Anker PowerCore 20100
Between phones, tablets, hotspots and other gadgets you take on your road trip, it's easy to run out of outlets in a hurry. Or maybe you're going camping or to the beach. That's where the Anker PowerCore 20100 comes in.
This portable 20100-mAh battery has two full-size USB ports and a USB-C port that let you simply plug in your devices to deliver power. In our testing, the PowerCore charged a Galaxy S8 nearly three times before running out of juice, and it got the phone to 21 percent in just 15 minutes. The high capacity and fast charge time makes this accessory a no-brainer.
Keep everyone's drinks chilled on the road with the Wagan Cooler, which has enough capacity to store 27 cans or up to four 2-liter bottles. The cooler gets as chilly as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can also keep food warm with the flick of a switch, heating up to 140 degrees. The device plugs into your car's 12-volt outlet, and has a 7.5-foot cord.
Anker Compact Jump Starter and Portable Charger
You never know when your car's battery might conk out. And that's why you should have the Anker Compact Jump Starter and Portable Charger with you on your next road trip.
The multifunction device comes with a power bank that can jump-start your car. It can also be used to power up your smartphone via the two USB ports, and it comes with a built-in flashlight.
The built-in 10,000-mAh battery charges in 3 hours, and the whole thing is compact enough to place in your glove compartment. The package comes with jumper cables, a wall charger and a car charger, and it's backed by an 18-month warranty.
Magellan Dash Cam
Capable of recording high-resolution (2304 x 1296) video, Magellan's Dash Cam is a fun way to chronicle your family trip. The camera offers enhanced low-light performance, and its built-in GPS can show your location on top of the video. The Dash Cam comes with a 2.7-inch display, so you can view your footage on the go.
Magellan's gadget can be especially handy when you're parked; it can detect an impact and will wake up and start recording automatically. If you have a long ride ahead of you, consider getting a higher-capacity SD Card: The device accommodates up to 128GB of storage.
Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L
It's easy to get online from your phone. But what if you want all of your family's devices to be able to connect at the same time? Just pick up the Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L from Verizon.
The device is portable and delivers fast 4G speeds to up to 15 devices simultaneously. The hotspot offers up to 24 hours of usage on a single charge and can last up to 27 days on standby. You can even charge other gadgets with this hotspot using the included cable attachment.
At its $100 price, Verizon's mobile hotspot comes with a two-year contract.. If you don't want to be locked into a contract, you'll need to fork over $200 for the device.
BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool
When things aren't going so well on your ride, and it appears there's something wrong with your car, you'll be happy to have the BlueDriver Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool on board.
The gadget is a full diagnostic scanner that can tell you exactly what's wrong with your car at any given time. And since it works with the BlueDriver app, it'll give you a full readout on your handset of what's happening with your vehicle.
What makes the BlueDriver scan tool so impressive is its database of more than 6.6 million fixes to vehicle problems that have all been verified by certified auto mechanics. In other words, the scan tool will tell you what's wrong with your car and what should be done to fix it before you get to the auto shop.
Garmin Speak Plus
"Alexa, do you want to ride shotgun?" The Garmin Speak Plus brings Amazon's assistant right into your vehicle along with a host of other features. The Speak Plus includes turn-by-turn navigation and a built-in dashcam, but what really sets this gadget apart is the Alexa integration.
Just as you can with the Amazon Echo, the Speak Plus lets you check the weather, control your smart-home devices, play games and get all sorts of questions answered. You can also get directions by simply saying, "Alexa, ask Garmin…." To stream Alexa's responses through your stereo, all you need is a Bluetooth connection or an AUX cable.
Raven is a versatile device that turns your dumb car into a smart one. It comes with both a front and rear camera, so you can capture your favorite driving moments and share them with friends and family. There's also a built-in security system to safeguard your stuff when you need to stop in a rest area on your trip.
Other highlights include GPS navigation and the ability for Raven to automatically contact family members with location info in case you're in an accident. Note that a subscription is required to use this device, as it uses a cellular connection. A basic $8 a month plan (using T-Mobile) lets you check on your vehicle 60 times a month over video.
The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular game consoles of all time, and that's because you can play great games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and many more at home and on the go. Just undock the Switch and you can start jumping, shooting and racing on the big, 6.2-inch HD display. Expect about 3 hours of battery life.
By sharing Joy-Con controllers, players can go head-to-head anywhere. And when you get to your destination, you can prop up the Switch using the included stand and play in tabletop mode.