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gettin our kicks on route 66...
September 21, 2012 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Ideas for gifts for a road-tripping couple?

For our honeymoon, we'll be travelling the USA by car for a little over 2 months. We'll be camping some as well as staying in hotels. What gadgets/memberships/things have you found indispensable for longer road trips? Things we've already added:
  • AAA membership
  • Gas cards
  • Road atlas
  • Audible.com subscription
  • GPS
  • Two-person tent
  • Camping stove
Recommendations for a specific model welcome on the last 3, too.

Note: this is emphatically not a question about whether honeymoon registries are tacky. Thank you!
posted by animalrainbow to Travel & Transportation around United States (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you already have sleeping bags and mats? Camping cookware? Good flashlight? Lantern? Good camera?
posted by Specklet at 3:04 PM on September 21, 2012


Also, if you don't have one, a cooler to stock with beverages and snacks between stops could be useful.

Do you already have a computer to take with you? If not, a tablet might be the kind of high-ticket item family members would be excited to buy you.
posted by itsamermaid at 3:09 PM on September 21, 2012


If you don't have smartphones with GPS apps, you might want those. I recently did a 2-week road trip and the GPS crapped out at one point so my smartphone was invaluable.

A smallish cooler for the car.

Water bottle with built-in filter, unless you plan on buying gallons of water.

Sleep masks and pillows for daytime snoozing in the car.

A converter for the car that allows you to plug in your laptop/tablet/USB devices/hair staightener/etc.

Also with AAA memberships, you can go to a location and get as many maps and guides as you want for free.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2012


National Park Pass!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I love my netbook for road trips, but it is, alas, becoming obsolete, so I'd say get a tablet or something like that.

One of those horseshoe-shaped neck pillows for car naps.

I love my mesh packing-cube organizer things. Makes digging around in the trunk for stuff so much easier.

Car chargers for everything.

First-aid kit.

One of those back-of-the seat organizers or some such.

(I'm apparently big on organizing. The less time I spend looking for where I packed my undies, the more time I can spend doing fun stuff.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:17 PM on September 21, 2012


An iPhone or iPod Touch (or maybe even an iPad) would be useful for keeping the passenger busy while the other drives. A way to play music through it onto your stereo would be useful too, if it's not built into the car already.

One of these Power inverters would probably be handy as well.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:30 PM on September 21, 2012


came in to recommend - and now second - a National Parks Pass!
posted by handful of rain at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2012


A cheap electric kettle. Or, if you think you'll be doing a lot of camping without access to electricity, a Kelly Kettle. I never go car camping without one or even both, plus a coffee filter cone and filters.

A Kindle.

A really nice hatchet or small axe, if you anticipate that you'll often be using firewood.

Earplugs, for that one day when you get to a campground after a long exhausting drive and the place is swarming with small screaming children.

Headlamps tend to be more convenient than flashlights, imho.
posted by sculpin at 4:21 PM on September 21, 2012


Seconding: National Parks Pass (good for monuments and historic sites and all kinds of places), hatchet for firewood, headlamps (good ones, two each, because they're always getting lost), power inverter for car.

I see you've got audiobooks which is great. I find listening to speech whether talk radio or preferably podcasts or online lectures is really great when driving -- helps keep me alert.

More camping gear? Swiss army knife, sleeping bags, camp pillows, air mattress + pump, dishes and cutlery and mugs, grilling/roasting tools for campfires, lighters and matches. Maybe a 4-person tent instead of 2, unless you plan to hike with it to faraway places. 2-person tents tend to be pretty cozy.

Coffee drinkers? Get a portable/camp French Press so you can make coffee on your camp stove in the mornings. Or tea or hot chocolate; something warm is always nice. I think you can get 12V immersion boilers that you could run from your car too.

For the camping gear think about whether you want backpacking gear, which is lightweight and expensive and designed to be hauled on overnight trips, or more luxurious car-camping gear. If you are just going to be camping next to your car, get a roomier 4-person tent instead of 2-person, and get a nice big Coleman stove instead of one of those tiny ones where you have to balance a pot on top of a burner.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:31 PM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Multitool. Leatherman Wave is one of the best, IMO.

Headtorches. The best thing for camping.

Nthing USB converter for the car. These can be super cheap online. Plus you can just use your existing cables for charging your devices.

Ereaders for sure. Best space saving travel device ever. I used to travel with one really good book. Now I travel with hundreds, that take up less space.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:07 PM on September 21, 2012


Also, really great leather driving gloves. And nice sunglasses, if you don't already have some.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2012


I just got done with a x-country road trip where I stayed mostly in hotels. Things that were useful for me or that I would have liked

- tethering for my iphone so I could use my laptop with it
- a cigarette lighter thing that let me actually plug my laptop in
- duplicate chargers for everything so I had a road bag of chargers and a home bag
- a small travel laundry thing including soap, spot remover and a little laundry line
- a lot of small zippable bags to put subsets of gear into so I could just bring an overnight bag into a hotel and not unpack the whole car
- good travel sized moisturizers and soaps and shampoos
- if you're serious about Route 66, I'd get a book about it. I found it a little hard to tell from on the road exactly how parts of it went and there are some good books that are all about this. Also Wikitravel's outline is very good
- a good white noise machine for your phone
- hammock
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 PM on September 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


A refrigerator.

There are basically two kinds. The peltier driven coolers and actual compressor driven fridge/freezers.

The peliter ones don't work that great. The compressor driven models work much better. However, they can be pricey.

You can find a edgestar 43qt portal fridge for 400 bucks on Amazon.

Engel, ARB, Ironman, and National Luna are some other brands, but they are considerably more expensive. The Edgestars use the same compressors and have been getting excellent reviews for a budget model.

A friend of mine has one in his truck. He even uses it to make ice for his cooler and he never has soggy sandwiches and his beer labels always stay on.


If you have a smartphone, get a good offline GPS app. I like CoPilot quite a lot.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:33 PM on September 21, 2012


Tents are sized small. Maybe a three person tent.
posted by notned at 3:24 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Definitely get that AAA membership. Gives you great peace if mind that if you should break down, help is only a phone call away. AAA also has great regional guide books and Campground guides to help you find places to stay. I find AAA's physical guidebooks easier to use than their website, but YMMV. Also, always ask at any hotel, attraction, or fancier restaurant if they offer a AAA discount. Can often save you a couple bucks on the spot.
posted by Ardea alba at 6:05 AM on September 22, 2012


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