Everyone gets bored on the road. It’s bad enough for people who drive an hour a day total but it’s far worse for cross country truckers. At the same time, you need to make sure you’re staying safe while you drive.
With that in mind, there are several gadgets you can use to stave off boredom, keep yourself safe, or even shave some time off your trip.
10: BlueTooth Headset
Sometimes you want to talk to a friend or coworker. Other times, you need to confirm details with a client. With laws in several states restricting cell-phone use, your options tend to be pulling over and wasting time or fumbling with a headset.
Neither option is optimal, which is why BlueTooth headsets are so useful and pretty dang vital these days. The device equates to a consumer backing up their hard drive with some sort of recovery software program – without this piece of technology, you’ll be in for a lot of wheel-spinning and time-wasting. Plus, you can comfortably leave it on the whole time you drive without worrying about getting tangled in any wires.
9: MP3 player
This is a must have for anybody who constantly makes long trips. You can store music on it – obviously – but there are other options as well. No matter your interests, there’s likely a podcast (or several) about it. They range from the humorous to the informative, and they can keep you listening for hours on end.
Another good idea is to load several audio books on the player. This gives you the benefit of standard audio books without the hassle of changing tapes or CDs. You’ll want to pick up a car charger to go with it, as most have a battery life of 15 hours tops.
8: FM Transmitter
This goes hand in hand with your MP3 player. There are a few brand specific versions, but most will work with any player. Simply plug the audio jack into your MP3 player and you can listen to it over your radio.
Like the BlueTooth set, this keeps wires away from you and leaves your ears open to listen to your truck and the road around you. They normally plug into cigarette lighters, so leave one open for this.
7: Smart Phone
It doesn’t matter which brand you get, this is always a useful gadget. A decent smart phone will give you internet access as long as you have cell service, which means you can download new games, songs, and podcasts any time you’re stopped for the night.
It also means you can check for nearby restaurants that serve decent food at any time. Most also have a voice recognition program so you can check for decent food while driving, without taking your eyes off of the road.
It seems obvious, but there are still several truckers who prefer an atlas to a GPS device. While a good atlas is better for planning a long route, a GPS does still have its uses. The main benefit of keeping a GPS is to avoid traffic. Nobody wants to lose hours sitting in a traffic jam, after all.
Most GPS devices automatically warn you of jams before you get close enough to them to lose time. Simply let the GPS tell you where to go instead, take your new route, and merge back to your planned route when you can. Just like that, you lost 10 minutes instead of 2 hours.
5: Power Converter
There’s nothing better than having a hot cup of coffee when you wake up or using a heated blanket to keep you warm as you fall asleep. However, these are both rather difficult to get without a wall socket, unless you want to spend a fortune for a 12V version.
That’s why you need to keep an AC/DC power converter with you. Plug it into a cigarette lighter and you’ve got a standard socket ready to go.
4: Dash Mounted Camera
There are a couple models of these, and they are essential to the modern driver. There are a lot of idiots on the road, and you never know when you’ll need proof of their stupidity.
Most of these have a DVR and internal camera, which means you’ll probably need to charge it nightly, but you’ll never have to hassle with tapes. One or two of these, properly placed, can save you a fortune if something goes wrong.
3: Slingbox Solo
This is a handy gadget if you’re a TV fan. Any place you have a broadband connection – such as with your smart phone if you or a friend is tech-savvy – you can use this to stream live TV.
No matter where you are in the country, you can take pleasure in being able to watch your favorite shows.
2: Air Conditioned Shirt
Murphy’s law says you’re going to need this. It seems to happen any time you’re driving somewhere blistering. You’ll be driving along and suddenly your A/C will die or, worse, start spewing hot air. There are a couple of different versions of A/C shirts.
Some plug into USB slots – handy if you have a device with an open slot – and others use cigarette lighters. What they all have in common is that they can turn a miserable drive tolerable almost immediately.
1: Mini Fridge
This is guaranteed to save you money over the course of a year or two. Whether you get a normal one and plug it into an adapter or buy a 12V version, this is practically a necessity. Eating on the road is expensive, it’s not very healthy, and it burns time you could be driving.
On the other hand, making a couple of meals and keeping them in the fridge keeps you fed with less cost, better quality food, and less time off the road to eat. It’s a complete win/win situation.