Are you ready to hit the road? Check this packing list against your own road trip checklist, and use it to prepare and pack for your next family road trip. Some of these items are things you’ll want to keep in your trunk year-round, because they just make good sense. When you’re prepared, safe, and entertained with these road trip essentials, you can focus on what’s important: having fun and making memories!
All ready to roll? Before you head out on your road trip, make sure you do the following:
For ideas on the qualities of the best road trip cars for comfort and modern technology, check out this list:
The comfort of your car plays a big role in keeping your road trips pleasant and enjoyable. Here are a few qualities to consider when you’re looking for a great road trip car:
Power seats. You should be able to adjust your seat’s height and distance not just from the steering wheel, but from the foot pedals too. Power controls can fine-tune exactly where you want your seat to be, and height-adjustable lumbar support, if available, can provide extra support for your lower back. A well-tweaked seat position maximizes your comfort and your field of vision, too.
Adjust your reach. Seat comfort is just the beginning. Consider a vehicle with a telescoping steering wheel and adjustable pedals to make driving less arduous. Your arms should bend slightly at the elbow so you can make turns without straining to reach or hunching over the wheel. Adjustable pedals are a boon for people who struggle with being a little shorter than average.
Heated and cooled seats. Cush your tush with built-in heated and cooled seats to improve your commute during frigid winters and sweltering summers. Heated seats are also great for drivers and passengers who struggle with back pain. In addition, consider a heated steering wheel, which offers soothing relief after you finish scraping the morning frost from your windshield.
Automatic climate control. Automatic climate control, also known as dual-zone climate control, lets the driver and passengers adjust their own heat and air-conditioning without interrupting another person’s comfort. The systems use sensors to automatically adjust different parts of the cabin to keep everybody comfortable. Newer car models even let you specify the exact temperature for your side of the cabin. If you road-trip often with your family, then this is a must-have feature.
A smooth, quiet ride. How a car drives is a crucial comfort factor. You’ll want a car that mutes external noise, dulls vibrations, and has good handling. These factors help absorb wind noise and make bumpy roads more bearable. A softly-sprung suspension offers the most comfortable ride, but at the cost of handling. A firm, sporty suspension provides plenty of sharp handling, but the ride isn’t as comfortable. Most cars fall somewhere in between.
If you want to save yourself from spending too much time and money at the gas pump, invest in a road trip vehicle that gets at least 22 miles to the gallon.
Modern technology can help with everything from recognizing gridlock traffic to preventing accidents. Here are the top five technological features that can improve your road trip.
Forward-collision warning. Forward-collision warning systems significantly reduce the chances of you rear-ending another vehicle. When you’re trying to change lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the person in front of you suddenly slams on the brakes, a system that uses cameras, lasers, or radar calculates the potential of an accident, provides warnings for you to prevent a collision, and then uses automatic emergency braking to stop your car before a crash can happen — just in case you don’t react in time to prevent the accident. Some forward-collision warning systems are more autonomous and also alert you when a pedestrian or cyclist might move in front of your car.
Blind-spot monitoring. Blind-spot monitoring uses lasers, cameras, or radar to monitor where nearby vehicles are in relation to your “blind spots,” or the places your mirrors don’t show. If there’s a car in a blind spot, the system turns on a warning light in the side mirrors. If you ignore the warning signal and still try to merge into the path of another car, the system emits an alert or chime to tell you a car is in the way.
Voice controls. Voice controls are a must-have option for hands-free, or if you want to control your car’s entertainment system while keeping your attention on the road. It’s also possible to have your phone read incoming text messages out loud and accept dictated responses.
Steering wheel-mounted stereo controls. Right alongside voice controls are steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, which let you adjust your music or calls on the fly and without taking your eyes off the road.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The days of cassette tapes and CD players are long gone. Instead there’s Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™, which synch your car’s infotainment system with your phone’s interface. It also incorporates your phone’s usability and features, so your phone instantly becomes car-friendly and voice-activated.
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