The reason we travel instead of more efficient means of transportation like flying is to experience, see the world, meet new people, and do it all at a pace we choose. It all goes out the window if you’re not well prepared, which is why every great trip starts with thoughtful planning and packing. Here is a list of the best travel accessories, gadgets and gear to pack for that ultimate drive.

This list assumes that you already own a smartphone and other basic technical items.

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Turn on with inverter

автомобильный инвертор

jalexartis / Flickr / CC-BY-2.0

This is one technology that most people don’t just prepare, but it can come in handy on a long trip.

Power inverters very important if you want to use on the road any device with food from alternating current and they come in several different configurations. Some are safe to use with fine electronics, while others don’t play well with certain devices.

You can also choose between models that plug into the cigarette lighter and others that need to be connected directly to the electrical system. You will have to go with the latter if you have any major power needs, but be careful not to overload the generator.

Some inverters include both a cigarette lighter and a battery, and provide connectivity USB cables to power devices such as phones and tablets.

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Cigarette Lighter 12V Splitter for Accessories

зарядное устройство для нескольких устройств в подставке для чашки подключено к телефону

Arwen_7 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

If you have more 12 volt accessories than socket outlets, a power splitter will let you to plug GPS and the phone to the network while the children charge their DVD players and game systems. Just make sure you don’t overload the circuit with too much current.

In addition to splitting a single cigarette lighter outlet into multiple 12V auxiliary outlets, some splitters also include one or more powered USB sockets that can be used to directly power mobile phones, tablets, and other devices.

If you prefer, you can also just use the charger, which includes multiple USB ports without additional accessory sockets.

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Do you need a new head unit?

новое головное устройство автомобиля

pixabay / CC0

No ride is complete without a soundtrack, and your old tape recorder may be completely unprepared to entertain you as you drive mile after mile of pavement. A complete overhaul of your sound system may not happen, but great sound starts with a great head unit.

If you are going on a long cross-country trip, you can even upgrade to satellite radio . Or you can just buy a modular receiver. It’s much easier than burning hundreds of CDs and you’ll be able to listen to the same radio stations wherever you are.

If you have passengers who need to be entertained, the video head unit will prevent them from continuously asking if you are there. These units used to sell for a price that was affordable for most budgets, but these days there are plenty of inexpensive head units out there if you’re willing to sacrifice some features.

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Auxiliary LCDs

монитор подголовника в задней части автокресла

pixabay / CC0

Many VCRs have auxiliary outputs so you can use those as well. Auxiliary LCDs can be installed almost anywhere, but one of the more convenient options is to purchase replacement headrests with integrated screens. The screens can be connected to the head unit, but you can also connect them to a gaming system, an external DVD player, or any other video device.

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External DVD players

Ребенок сидит на заднем сиденье автомобиля, наблюдая за портативный DVD-плеер

Mikhail Godek / Moment / Getty Images

If you don’t want to tear off the head unit, you can still provide DVD entertainment to your passengers. Ceiling-mounted external DVD players often have flip-out LCD panels that can view everything in the back of your car or SUV.

You can also find DVD/LCD combo units that are built into interchangeable headrests and units that can be tethered to existing headrests.

For even more versatility, use a 12-volt portable DVD player or load up a tablet with tons of movies and shows.

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GPS unit

телефон, показывающий GPS на экране, установленный на лобовом стекле автомобиля

pixabay / CC0

Opening the map and plotting a course is somewhat of a visceral delight, but the novelty factor disappears pretty quickly when you speed up the freeway and need to look for something.

If your vehicle does not have a built-in navigational block GPS some replacement head units include this option.

On the other hand, there are many modular GPS devices that you can simply pick up and take with you in any vehicle. Many GPS devices even include places of interest such as gas stations, restaurants, and lodging.

Your phone probably also has built-in GPS, but check out our list of best gps apps, if you want something a little better.

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swamp cooler

болотный кулер установлен снаружи автомобиля

Doug Caldwell / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The price of gas is enough to give anyone pause when looking for air conditioning controls, but there aren’t many other options. Minimizing the window does not always help, and at times mounted on the swamp refrigerator windows practically gone.

If you can find a vintage swamp cooler, this might be just what you need to cool off on a hot summer trip.

However, you can also look at a portable device. Battery powered evaporative coolers are not as powerful as the old window-mounted swamp coolers, but they are much more portable. If your air conditioner blows up in the summer heat, you’ll be happy to have it handy.

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Beverage cooler

портативный кулер в кузове автомобиля

Stephen Ridgway / Flickr / CC-BY-2.0

When the asphalt seems to be melting around your car, nothing falls into place quite like a frosty drink. The 12V cooler can keep water, sodas and snacks cool while you’re on the go.

An ice chest will also do the trick, but then you’ll be stuck tossing and refilling it every time the ice melts.

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jump box

руки, держащие соединительные провода автомобильного аккумулятора, искрящие их

J. Ronald Lee / Moment / Getty Images

When trouble arises on the road, help is usually just a phone call away. However, it never hurts to be prepared. Your mobile phone may be turned off or you may be in an area without service. In these cases, you will be very glad that you decided to assemble a jump box.

Some adapter boxes include a battery pack and jumper cables, while other models include lights, radios, sirens and tire pumps, among others. You can even find adapter boxes with built-in inverters that allow you to connect AC devices.

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Tire pressure monitoring system

Системы контроля давления в шинах OEM отображают давление для каждой шины на приборной панели автомобиля

Lifewire/AJ Batac

Nothing can cause a road stop like a flat tire, so the system tire pressure monitoring may be the most important piece of road equipment you will ever buy.

These systems include a sensor and transmitter for each tire, so you’ll always know the pressure in all your tires. If the pressure eases, you can take action before you get into a dangerous situation.

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