Cathy Kopf and her family were just trying to get some ice cream on a road trip in Northern California a few years ago. But, their GPS had other plans.
The New Yorkers got stuck in a traffic circle thanks to their friendly GPS device—who they’d nicknamed “Mathilda.”
“Mathilda released us onto the wrong street. Not once. Not twice. Five times,” Kopf said in an email.
The Kopfs finally escaped and got their ice cream. “I can report that the Northern Oregon blackberry ice cream at Marianne’s in Santa Cruz is tremendous.” But, Mathilda wasn’t done trying to derail their road trip family fun.
“We let her guide us into the forests of Northern California as dusk became night. The children were sleeping and hubby and I found the population markers charming,” Kopf said. “For example, did you know that Strawberry, CA has a population of 86? You know what they don’t have besides people? A gas station that’s open in the evening. We’d become dangerously low on fuel and the route mapped for us by Mathilda was lacking in services.
Like a mirage on the horizon, a gas station finally appeared on the crest of a hill as the car sputtered along on fumes. The road trip was saved and the Kopfs finished their journey without incident.
Want to make sure you don’t have your own Mathilda incident on last road trip adventures of the season?
Here are 5 gadgets to make your late-summer road trip smoother and safer:
Revvy is a diagnostic tool and a Wifi hotspot for the car. It plugs into your On Board Diagnostics (ODB2) port—check for the port around the steering column or near the pedals on cars built after 1996.
Revvy will let you know what that check engine light means and give everyone in the car a central way to connect to the internet without using their own data plan. Having one network makes it easy for everyone in the car to stay connected.
Help keep everyone in the car safe if you need to make a highway pit stop to change a tire or wait for roadside assistance. LED flares are an excellent way to let other drivers know you’re there. Because LEDs draw less power, their batteries last longer. Toss a three-pack in your trunk and say farewell to those old flame-throwing flares
Drop Stop Gap Filler
Phones, quarters for tolls, that granola bar you really, really needed. Nothing is worse on a road trip than losing these items into the space/time rift that is the hole between your seats and console. The Drop Stop Gap Filler solves this problem. This ingenious and practical device slips around your seatbelt and keeps your essential items within reach.
Phone mounts can be clunky and clumsy. They also, usually, require you to take your eyes off the road to glance at a map and often require copious amounts of re-adjustment. Navdy, a heads-up display that sits right behind your steering wheel, alleviates these concerns by giving you a convenient way to get directions.
Navdy also comes with downloaded maps for data dead zones. And, hand gestures and a steering wheel mounted clickwheel let you focus on the road—making it easier to play the perfect road trip playlist.
RoadsideAmerica.com isn’t a gadget, but it is the go-to place for travelers of all stripes. Billed as “your online guide to offbeat tourist attractions,” this site is a repository of roadside oddities, weird museums and essential detours for any road trip.
Search by map or browse their selection of curated attractions. Recent highlights on the site include: the Bigfoot Capital of the World in Willow Creek, California; the World’s Largest Monster Truck Safari in Clermont, Florida; and the bullet-riddled Ford driven by Bonnie and Clyde in Primm, Nevada.
Gear up for that last summer road trip adventure with these gadgets—and web site. They’ll help you handle the road, so you can focus on what really matters on summer road trips: controlling the playlist, where to eat next, and making a lifetime of memories.
This article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice, or to indicate the availability or suitability of any product or service to your unique circumstances.
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