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Sprocket List: summer road trip essentials

Our Bureau | Updated on March 10, 2018

Summertime happiness Loaded with goodies of the car-kind, your next road trip can be safe, fun and comfy for you and the gang S MURALIDHAR

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Upgrade your car’s comfort quotient and enjoy that summer road trip you’ve been planning

With holidays around the corner, a summer road trip is an absolute must despite the rising daytime temperatures. Our road infrastructure is not there yet, with the rest of the developed world, but driving from one city to another is still becoming smoother and easier everyday. And finally, there are well-maintained rest-stops and clean restaurants along most major highways of the country.

Planning for the road trip in advance is always a good idea to make sure every family member is kept engaged or comfortable, to ensure safe travel and to provide for contingencies. Safety of the occupants is of prime importance and it is best to avoid anything that might compromise the alertness of the driver.

Keeping the car in perfect readiness for a long road trip is obviously essential. But, you can also prepare for your journey by loading up on stuff that will enhance the experience for you and your family. And with our recommendations you can make even your small car or B+ hatch feel like a luxury car.

So, here is a bunch of things that you can pack for that road trip that will keep you cool, help you focus better on the road, keep your kids from asking annoying question – “Are we there yet?” – at bay, and make the drive as much fun as your holiday destination.

Polarised sunglasses

One of the things that we all carry on a drive unfailingly, but also unthinkingly, is a pair of sunglasses. But, the shades can actually help improve vision, cut glare from bright sunlight and also make you look cool, if they are polarised. While other sunglasses just cut the intensity of light, polarised glasses cut glare caused by the sun’s horizontally polarised light. So, even if your car’s windscreen is not coated, polarised lenses can help keep out glare.

An example would be this pair of light-weight Maui Jim Keanae sunglasses, which feature the company’s patented nine-layer Polarised Plus2 tech to offer 100 per cent UV protection and 99.9 per cent glare reduction.

Head-Up Display

It can get a bit comfy and addictive when you get used to the Head-Up display offered in some luxury cars. These are in-built devices that project information, usually navigation prompts, onto the windscreen, so that the driver doesn’t need to take his eyes off the road.

Your small car doesn’t have a HUD? No problem, you can pick up Garmin’s HUD+ – a simple portable device which project navigation information on to a transparent film that you have to stick on your windscreen. Just download the Garmin HUD India App, pair the HUD+ using Bluetooth and leave it on top of the dashboard for turn-by-turn guidance projected on your windscreen.

Power Bank

Additional, external batteries or power banks can really come in handy during road trips, because very often it is only when you need to make an urgent phone call you will realise all that Bluetooth streaming and selfie-shooting have drained your handset’s charge.

External power banks come in different charge sizes. Pick one which can give you atleast two to three charge cycles for your handset or tablet. This definitely means that a battery capacity of about 8,000 to 10,000 mAh will be ideal. Make sure that you also carry multiple adapters so that multiple devices can be charged.

Rear seat entertainment

The fancy instrument cluster, the full featured touch screen, the on-steering controls etc. are at the disposal of the driver or his co-passenger, which is a bit of a raw deal for rear passengers. However, a rear entertainment unit will help keep boredom at bay for back-benchers. MapmyIndia has a range of car headrest systems which could prove to be an effective time-killer. Their UHMP 900 and UHMC 901 systems will fit smartly onto the back of the headrests of the front seats. The UHMP 900 comes complete with a pair of headrest pillows with each one having a 9’ TFT screen built-in. It comes with adjustable headrest pole diameter for a universal feel. These come in Black, Grey and Beige colors to match most interiors. The UHMC 901 also has a pair of 9’ TFT screens that are clamped to the front-seat headrests. Both come equipped with a USB and SD card slots, PAL and NTSC auto switch and full feature remote control.

Bluetooth speaker

Playing our favourite music while driving can be relaxing, and yet keep us alert too. Often audio systems offered by small car manufacturers can fall short in the fidelity department. Also you can’t carry your music with you when you step out with the picnic basket.

The solution could be a good quality portable Bluetooth speaker, which you can also charge on the go. But, how about one which can multi-task like this Creative Sound Blaster Roar. Don’t be fooled by its compact dimensions, it packs a solid punch. Even better than just delivering great sound quality, this Bluetooth speaker can also be used like a power bank to charge your handset or tablet. It also has a siren feature which can be used in case there is a need to warn others or attract attention to yourself in an emergency.

Car Refrigerator

We live in a tropical country and a portable refrigerator is an absolute must. Unless you are on a roadtrip in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Igloo Iceless 40 Quart Thermoelectric Cooler is a snug fit. It cools without ice - just plug into your vehicle cigarette lighter or a 12V outlet. The cooler cools down to 3-4 degrees Celsius below the car’s cabin temperature. It features a brushless motor and convection cooling so everything stays cold, not just some of the items. To top it off, it can be used either upright as a refrigerator or horizontal like an ice chest!

The last point here, but surely the most important, is driver fatigue. Remember to only eat a light meal before and during a long road trip. Stay hydrated and alert, and take coffee or snack breaks after every 100 to 150 kms of the drive. Swap drivers when possible and make sure visibility is never compromised due to luggage or other objects stacked on top of the rear parcel tray.

Happy driving!

Published on April 16, 2015

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