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Cool gadgets for your next road trip

Aug. 17, 2020
5 mins
Young parents and their toddler son get ready to load into the car

This article has been updated from a previous version.

As cottage and camping season heats up, many Canadians are starting to plan their weekend getaways. After all, there’s much to explore in this land of lakes and forests.

Whether you prefer to rough it in the woods, settle in for a more civilized experience at a glampsite – hydrogel facemasks and all — or spend the night in a vacation rental or cottage, there are a number of useful gadgets that can improve your enjoyment and your safety away.

Sure, we all want to disconnect from society while out in the wild – but there’s nothing wrong with a little convenience.

Here are a few worth considering:

A boost for your car

There’s nothing worse than your car battery going dead in the middle of nowhere. Newer booster packs, like the MotoMaster Eliminator 750A, provides up to 20 jump starts on a single charge. It also has built-in flashlight with lights that also flash to warn any passing motorists if you’re stopped on the side of the road. This one also comes with USB port that can be used to charge your phone or tablet – a lifesaver if you drain your battery calling for help or navigating out of a murky situation.

The booster pack is compact and can be easily stored in your glove compartment.

A really cool cooler

Most of us don’t leave for a long trip without packing a cooler full of snacks, sandwiches and sodas. But now you have the option of a hot meal on the go: The Auto Trends 12V Car Food Warmer is about the size of a normal lunch box and can warm pre-cooked food up to 150 degrees Celsius.

Another cool great gadget is Munchkin Travel Bottle Warmer to help you warm up milk or formula for your baby. It also comes with a timer that lights up at night.

However, you still need to keep things cool – and ice can easily melt en route. For your next trip, consider picking up a Koolatron 12V portable cooler, which keeps drinks and other items as cool as 5 degrees Celsius all the way to the cottage, which is handy if you don’t want to make any stops. The cooler can also be used to keep food warm up to 57 degrees Celsius.

All these cooling and warming devices can plug into your car adapter.

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A washing machine that fits in your pocket

Clothes get dirty when you’re out in the wild, especially if you choose to pack light. But if you find yourself in need of some fresh clothes, there’s no need to fear. The Scrubba Wash Bag can clean a change of clothes in a few minutes. Add water and soap, rub the clothes against the silicone washboard in the bag, and rinse before hanging them to try. Best of all? No wires, connections or chargers needed.

Clean crisp lake water - minus the e. coli

Unsafe drinking water can be anywhere and can pose a serious hazard. If you’re not near a tap or a source of clean water, you should filter any natural water before consuming. The Grayl Ultrapress Titanium Bottle turns fresh water — which could be contaminated by animals or people — into clean water in a matter of seconds. All you have to do if fill the outer cup with water, push the inner press down (similar to a French press), and you have clean water ready to drink. Because of the outer++- bottle’s solid titanium body, you can also heat it up directly over a fire for hot drinks or for your cooking needs.

Caffeinated comforts of home

When you’re on the go and can’t find a decent coffee place that serves espresso, you can make your own with the Wacaco Minipresso portable espresso machine. It comes with a cup and scoop, but you have to supply the hot water and coffee grounds.

The machine itself doesn’t require electricity or batteries - just a hand pump to brew a cup of espresso. The machine is ideal for camping and can be easily stowed away in your backpack.

Need a light?

Sometimes an ordinary flashlight isn’t bright enough. That’s where the LuminAID PackLite Titan 2-in-1 Power Lantern comes in. Ideal for camping or for an emergency kit, this lantern inflates into a 15 cm x 15 cm x 15 cm cube and has a handy carrying strap. The lantern has multiple brightness settings – including a red light setting for nighttime – and a full charge can keep it working for 100 hours. It can be charged using the sun or a USB cable, and it also charges your phone or tablet.

The one thing you actually need? Insurance.

Wherever your travels take you this summer, some of the gadgets mentioned above can make your vacation more fun and convenient. However, while these are all nice-to-haves, make sure you’re well equipped your ultimate need-to-have: an auto insurance policy that is adequate for your journey, and travel insurance if you do leave your home province.

Craig Sebastiano

Craig Sebastiano is an award-winning writer and editor with more than a decade of experience in journalism, marketing, and communications. He’s written about a number of financial topics, including investing, real estate, robo-advisors, mortgages, credit cards, pensions, taxes, insurance, RRSPs, and TFSAs. Craig’s work has appeared in MoneySense, Morningstar, Benefits Canada, Advisor’s Edge, Job Postings, and Ryerson University Magazine. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course and is an avid do-it-yourself investor.

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