Summer is well and truly upon us here in the northern hemisphere and that means that it's time to honor that long-standing tradition of the summer road trip. America is a big country and you're going to have to spend a bunch of time in your trusty, old land yacht if you're planning on seeing a chunk of it at ground level.
Thankfully, you're not stuck with only the creature comforts that your vehicle's manufacturer decided to include when it was built -- car accessories have come a long way in recent years. That's why we've compiled this list of useful dinguses and doodads that will help make those miles roll by more easily.
Note that Roadshow may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.
Between all the snacks and beverages you'll need to bring for your big trip, plus books, magazines, iPads and who knows what else, you will have a lot of crud sliding around in that trunk of yours. That's gonna be a bummer, but you can help keep everything where it's meant to be with a trunk organizer.
This trunk organizer from Drive Auto Products comes with straps to help make it even more secure and has tons of pockets and cubbies for all your stuff. What's even better is that it's on sale for half of its usual retail price, so you'll have plenty of money left over for gas station beef jerky with which to fill it.
If you have a particularly old car, your windows might lack decent UV protection, which means that you're basically cooking while you drive along the interstate. What can you do to prevent driver's tans or angry red passengers? You can continually hose everyone down with sunblock or you can get a sun shade that attaches to your window.
We recommend both, but for the latter you'll be best served by a roll-up sun shade like this one, that way you can still roll your window down with relative ease for drive-thru stops or when you get pulled over for driving way too fast when your favorite song came up on shuffle. Even better, this particular shade is wicked cheap and comes in a two-pack.
It's bad enough when you drop French fries or loose change down the gap between your car seat and the center console, but things get pretty serious when you manage to butterfinger your phone down that automotive black hole. Thankfully, someone has invented a product that not only prevents stuff from falling down there, never to be seen again, but it actually makes that usable storage space.
These seat console gap filler organizers are made of durable fake leather and are perfectly ignorable if you have a dark-colored interior, but you'll really appreciate the extra storage space they give you, especially if you have an older car with crappy cup holders that won't fit your giant-ass iPhone Plus.
Add in that these are super-affordable and come in a two-pack, and you'd be a real dope to not pick them up before setting off on your next road trip.
If there's one thing that makes living with an older car kind of a pain, it's the lack of cup holders. I mean, modern cars have so many. The Roadshow long-term Subaru Ascent has -- no joke -- 19 of the little buggers. Thankfully, there's a solution to expand your car's pathetic cup holder count and it doesn't cost a ton.
This Trio cup holder expander turns one cup holder into three cup holders -- and frankly, why stop there? At just $9.88 a pop, why not go nuts and try and out-beverage even Subaru. Plus, you'll be glad you did when your car inevitably conks out in the middle of the desert and now you have potentially dozens of bottles of water to sustain you until help arrives.
Now you're deep into your road trip and you've eaten your weight in gas station cookies and jerky and drank gallons of canned ice tea. What do you do with all the detritus in between stops? Do you throw it out the window? No, of course not. You're socially responsible. What about tossing it on the floor of the back seat? You better not, you animal.
No, for this situation you'll need a garbage bag, but where do you put it that it won't tip over and make a bigger mess? Well, if you're smart -- and we assume you are because you're reading this guide -- you've already purchased this two-pack of bag hooks that clip onto the posts for your seat's head rest. Problem solved.
Don't have headrests in your car? Well, we can't help you there.
One of the other weak points of older vehicles, even ones just a few years old, is the lack of connectivity in their stereos and infotainment systems. This, coupled with the fact that modern Apple products often lack a headphone jack, means that the old tape-deck-adapter thing just won't cut it anymore.
Thankfully, there's another option that won't set you back a lot of dough and will let you binge-listen to all your favorite podcasts once you hit the road. It's the Blaupunkt Toronto AM/FM/Bluetooth stereo receiver, and it's wicked cheap right now.
Is it going to be the last word in sonic fidelity? Nope, but it's probably plenty when powered with your ancient door speakers -- and anyway, for 20 bucks, who cares?
You decided to take a break at a rest stop when you got too tired to drive safely. Congratulations on adulting. Unfortunately, you left your new Blaupunkt playing old episodes of This American Life while you napped in the summer sun and you woke up to a totally dead battery.
Normally this would be a huge inconvenience, but because you're a smarter-than-average road-tripper you bought the Stanley FatMax 700/350 amp jump starter / 120 psi air compressor combo. You confidently tell your panicking passengers to chill, grab the FatMax out of your trunk and hook it up under the hood (red lead to the battery positive, black lead to something metal on the engine away from the battery) and try the key.
It starts, you're a hero. Everyone applauds. You happen to notice that your left rear tire is looking a little flat while walking back to the trunk and you sort that out too, you know, while you're at it being handy.
Congratulations, you deserve a treat from the rest area vending machine. Choose wisely.