A long, winding road trip is one of the best ways to see the United States. There are country-circling wine loops and overlooked roadways with attractions all too ready for a quick photo op. The diversity of the country — in food, landscapes, cultures, interests, etc. — is best soaked in from its highways, freeways, byways, and side roads. But to make the most of a road trip, one has to come prepared.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a friend or family member who loves road trips, get them something they don’t already have. These are the best eight road trip gifts to buy that special someone.
1. For adventurous road trippers: portable car battery jumper
There’s a familiar script for anyone who has had their car battery die on them: First, there’s the annoyance that you left the radio or cabin light on. Then, there’s the waiting and hoping someone will pass by who can jumpstart your car. The Zeus Battery System from Uncharted can’t help that first problem, but it can make sure you aren’t stuck wasting your time until someone in another car stops to help.
The Zeus Battery System can jumpstart cars, trucks, and boats multiple times with a single charge. It also has a flashlight and USB ports to charge the rest of your electronics. In short, it’s the perfect portable battery for anyone who likes to venture to places that are low on population density, but high on adventure.
Cost and where to buy: $150, available online at Uncharted.
2. For spontaneous, multi-day road trippers: carry with you grill
Road trips may be defined by cruising on the open road, but some of the best memories come from when you stop for the night. Those stops often include bare-bones campsites or permit-free camping grounds that lack any type of cooking setup. The Outpost grill from Breeo allows you to grill up your meal of choice anywhere you can build a fire.
The grate has a pole that easily sinks into the ground, and the grate makes it easy to keep your food at just the right level depending on the temperature you need. Best of all, it all packs up into a thin bag that can slide under the seat, so it’s there when you need it and not taking up too much space when you don’t. The basic set has a 19-inch diameter, and there’s also an option for a 24-inch grate. An additional kettle hook is available as well for people who can’t go without their soups and stews.
Cost and where to buy: $119-189, available online at Breeo.
3. For road trippers who like things clean: solar water heater
Having hot water on hand can be a game changer whether you want to take an on-the-go shower or properly clean clothes or dishes. A solar water heater makes hot water easy — no fire, no pots, just some water and waiting.
The Coleman Solar Shower holds five gallons and has a moveable shower head. All it takes is the sun to heat the water up, and it’ll work even on chilly days. Once the water is hot, all you have to do is elevate the bag, grab the handle and spout, and let gravity send the warm water out. When you don’t need it, the Solar Shower easily stores away in a backseat pocket.
Cost and where to buy: $23, available on Amazon.
4. For the road tripper who travels with human’s best friend: dog car hammock
Anyone who road trips with a pet knows that hair is unavoidable. Depending on your pet, there might be some drool stains and hyperactive jumping between the seats involved as well. The iBuddy dog hammock hooks to the headrests of your seat to keep your pet in the back and all the dirt, hair, and saliva off of your seats. You can choose to hook up just the back seats like a seat cover or bring the front half up to clip onto the front seat headrests to make a full hammock.
There are fancier versions out there, but iBuddy is affordable, hardy, and washable — something anyone who has seen their dog shake off lake water can appreciate.
Cost and where to buy: $39, available on Amazon.
5. For the coffee-loving road tripper: portable no-mess French press
Gas station coffee can only get someone so far, and specialty coffee shops can eat into the road trip budget. So why not make your own? BruTrek’s OVRLNDR French press holds 28 fluid ounces and is designed for minimum spills. Plus, the bottom comes out to make it easy to clean out the base.
The actual preparation of the coffee is easy enough to do on a quick pit stop. After removing the top, coffee grounds go in, and then the hot water. After a five minute steep, put the lid on and press and you have your coffee. And there’s no having to chug through the coffee once it’s ready — a design the company calls the Bru-Stop keeps the water from over extracting the grounds.
Cost and where to buy: $50, available online at BruTrek.
6. For the nature-loving road tripper: America the Beautiful National Parks Pass
The US’ national parks are some of the best attractions from coast to coast. There’s a national park for just about every type of traveler out there, and if you want to see as many as possible in one go, there’s an optimized road trip itinerary for that.
The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass gives free entry and day use fees for the holder and three other adults at more than 2,000 sites. It’s the perfect gift for the road tripper who enjoys plenty of scenic stops.
Cost and where to buy: $80, available online at US Park Pass.
7. For the snack-loving road tripper: iceless cooler
The proper cooler can make or break a trip. It has to hold enough food to make it worth the space, while also holding enough ice to keep everything cool enough to last. Enter the Cigreen mini fridge.
The Cigreen doesn’t take ice, which means more room for food and no ice refills. Instead, it plugs into the cigarette lighter and handles all the cooling, freezing, and even heating that you need. The lowest temperature hits below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while the highest goes up to 131 degrees. The cooler is small enough to sit in the middle console, meaning you can take full advantage of the USB charging port, touch screen controls, and cup holder.
Cost and where to buy: $290, available on Amazon.
8. For the photo-taking road tripper: instant camera
You can buy as many souvenirs as you like, but nothing hits home after a trip like the photos. There’s no shortage of camera options for the traveler who wants more than just shots from their phone. GoPro is a great choice for people who like to take their gear to the extreme, while others prefer a small or mirrorless camera like a Sony Alpha a6300 or Panasonic Lumix. For something fun and simple, however, an instant camera can do what all of the above can’t: provide physical photos.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 is an affordable option that’s compact and easy to use. Will you take the most breathtaking landscape shots with it? No, but you will capture the little in between moments. The camera makes it easy with a simple on-camera flash, adjustable shutter speed and shooting modes, and a 60 millimeter lens. There’s an argument to be made that the time for instant cameras has come and gone (twice now), but it’s a fun gift that captures the small times in between destinations that make road trips great.
Cost and where to buy: $120 to $160, at various retailers.