Great gift idea for someone about to drive cross-country (USA)?
June 25, 2012 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Great gift idea for someone about to drive cross-country (USA)?

My friend is driving from Maryland, down through Georgia and then Texas and then New Mexico and up through California. He'll be on the road for about 5 weeks and I'm trying to think of things that would be cool or fun or useful while on the road. He's also traveling for part of it with an 8-year old son.

posted by deern the headlice to Shopping (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best Western gift certificate.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:44 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Grocery bag full of nonperishable snacks?
posted by ian1977 at 8:46 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

AAA membership?
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:47 PM on June 25, 2012 [11 favorites]

Gas money, like gift cards if he happens to have a preferred gas station chain, or a pre-paid credit card.

A good set of maps or a road atlas can still be helpful, even if he's got GPS and access to Google Maps. An 8-year old is probably old enough to learn some basic map navigating skills, too.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well I'm doing a 2-week road trip this summer and the things I can think of that would come in handy:
- a digital camera if he doesn't have one.
- a map of the USA.
- a long mix tape of songs he doesn't have.
- a travel mug for coffee (alternately the cold-drink version for iced coffee/tea).
- books on tape/CD (or a language learning CD or something).
- snacks, like beef jerky, that are preserved but easy to eat on the road.
- an air mattress (if he'll be crashing with people he knows).
- travel sized hand sanitizer for the glove compartment.
- a roadside emergency kit.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Universal charger, something you can just plug into the cigarette lighter and has interchangeable tips so you can charge your phone, laptop, whatever.
posted by cairdeas at 8:57 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

How much are you looking to spend? If they don't have an iPhone, a EyeFi or something like that would be brilliant, I think. I had a lot of fun doing a little blog when I did a 10 day cross country trip. Friends and family enjoyed seeing photos while we were on the road.
posted by maryr at 8:59 PM on June 25, 2012

Seconding AAA membership. It's my family's stock gift whenever a relative or friend of the family turns 16.

We've only really needed to use it once, but it was on a road trip--we broke down in the middle of Canyonlands after park hours--and that's really the best time to have it.
posted by phunniemee at 9:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of those warmers/coolers for food that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet?
posted by oldtimey at 9:12 PM on June 25, 2012

Back and butt pillows. Go to that store with back stuff... it's called like The Back Store or something equally creative. Not sure what part of Maryland you're in but there's one in Rockville!
posted by pupstocks at 9:14 PM on June 25, 2012

I was going to say some sort of nice back pillow/lumbar cushion -- it was what I didn't think of driving across the country and it really would have been nice to have.
posted by brainmouse at 9:28 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

As someone who's traveled half across the country numerous times, the following have made my life super-easy (of course, it depends on your budget and what he has already).

- a Navigation Device (my dad got me a Garmin right before my second long trip and it was a life-saver)

-Gift Certificates for Audiobooks, or Audiobooks you know he'll like (every other drive I listen to Stephen Colbert's Audio book, or the Mighty Boosh..... ooh, on the super-cheap you could download podcasts you think he'll like and burn then to cd)

- Gas card!

- Thick/outdoor yoga mat with maybe a book of easy yoga exercises. A few basic stretches and Dancer's pose reeeeally loosens up the muscles

- a list of tourist sites? Is he going to specific places, or just going on a driveabout? If it's the latter a book of neat site-seeing areas that are close to the road might be nice.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 9:32 PM on June 25, 2012

A road atlas is really fun and useful, even if he has a smart phone. I have driven cross country both with and without an iPhone, and used the road atlas just as much when I had it as when I didn't.

Also, a book about roadside attractions, like a Road Food book or something similar.
posted by apricot at 9:33 PM on June 25, 2012

If they don't have a high-tech phone, a GPS is really useful. I was also going to suggest AAA.

-As others have mentioned.
posted by annsunny at 9:33 PM on June 25, 2012

The game Spot It is an easily portable fun simple game they could play together during non-driving times.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:31 PM on June 25, 2012

solar charger for ipod/phone etc.
posted by chapps at 11:11 PM on June 25, 2012

With an 8-year-old in tow, I'm sure they're bound to stop at or pass by a number of national parks with that itinerary, so getting them a National Parks Pass and a Passport to the parks (with kids' supplement) could be an awesome gift, I think.

It'll give them a bunch of interesting stops along the way, and a way to keep track of those stops.
posted by that girl at 1:03 AM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Satellite radio subscription? Or a printable NPR station guide (free). Weird America is one book about roadside attractions....
posted by knile at 2:04 AM on June 26, 2012

Waterless face cleaner (cetaphil), mixed cd, energy drinks, neck pillow, gum, travel pack (tooth brush, shampoos, soaps), piece of luggage, stamps for postcards, travel journal, gas card, massage gift certificate for one of the cities he will be in
posted by KogeLiz at 4:10 AM on June 26, 2012

Satellite Radio and a 2 month subscription.
posted by COD at 5:44 AM on June 26, 2012

I love the Passport to the Parks. I saw one in San Francisco at the Sutro Baths years ago and I could kick myself that I didn't buy it. Can you imagine having it and acquiring stamps in it over a lifetime. That is an awesome item!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:06 AM on June 26, 2012

The book Road Trip USA.

I drove cross-country in 2005 and I only wish I had taken more time off work to do it (I did it in 3 weeks). Oh, and maybe that I had woken up earlier in the day, as sometimes I'd get to some touristy place right after it closed.
posted by tckma at 10:10 AM on June 26, 2012

Some sort of hand wipes/moist towelettes (a museum of moist towelettes - how cool is that?!). They come in really handy (ha!) when eating snacks in the car, after (or before) using a bathroom without decent cleaning facilities, freshening up in general (especially in hot/sweaty climates).
posted by deborah at 9:18 PM on June 26, 2012

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