11 Essentials to Pack for a Smarter Road Trip

If you’re hitting the road for summer vacation, make sure you’re toting the right gear for a smooth, smart journey.

1. GPS Device

Having a portable one of these helps for adventures taken outside your car, too. There have to be at least 24 satellites in a “GPS constellation” of synchronized orbits in order for your GPS device to work. That’s a lot of rocket science and delicate mathematics, so take advantage of it.

2. Paper Atlas

An atlas you can hold in your hand is the ultimate back-up plan. If the technology seems old, that’s because it is — road maps go back as far as 5th century Rome.

3. USB Car Charger

Don’t let your gadgets die on you. Modern USB connections aren’t just faster than their predecessors — they consume less power, too.

4. Cooler

The cooler, or portable ice chest, was invented in 1951, but things have gotten a little fancier in the 63 years since. Some modern coolers can plug into your car’s electrical outlet and use a powered fan to draw away heat and keep things even chillier.

5. Blankets and Pillows

Because you never know when you’ll need to snuggle up. If you need a little very literal pillow talk, “pillow” comes from the Latin pulvinus, which means “pillow” (they had pillows back then, too).

6. Car Emergency Kit

This is a must, especially when on the open road. It never hurts to pack a comprehensive road assistance kit. Reflective road triangles are so effective, they are used by the Amish as electricity-free tail lights.

7. First Aid Kit

Chances are you’ll require some minor repairs before your car, so be sure to bring a first aid kit. Tweezers, adhesive bandages, and rubber gloves are easy to stow away, and you’ll feel like a genius if a situation arises where you need them.

8. Audio Books

Music is a road trip must, but audio books are a great way to break up the trip and make the time fly. And they’re not as new as you might guess - the first sound ever recorded was technically an audiobook: Thomas Edison’s reading of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

9. Spare Car Keys

You probably threw these in your drawer and forgot about them, but they can come in handy on a road trip. Pocket an extra set or give it to your trip companion; you never know when you’ll need them. While today’s car keys are loaded with electronics, the first metal lock keys were invented in the 1st century.

10. Cash For Tolls

Keep some quarters and spare paper cash so you never have to go digging. The most expensive toll bridge in the world is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. It will set you back about $30 just to cross.

11. Camera

This one is obvious, but don’t leave home without it. How else are you going to document your visit to the world’s largest ball of twine, located in Cawker City, Kansas?

Whatever adventure you’re embarking on, make sure you’ve packed the right gear. To learn more about the new Mercedes-Benz GLA and see what some of your favorite celebrities pack for their own excursions, visit GLApacked.com.

July 23, 2014 - 9:45am
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