a photo of a woman starting a road trip

Top 10 Road Trip Travel Destinations And Smart Devices To Bring Along

Here are the top 10 road trip travel destinations and the smart devices to take along for the journey this summer.

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With summer just approaching, it's time to start planning your next road trip. And, whether it's to see family in the next state, explore somewhere new with friends, or embark on that coast-to-coast adventure you always dreamed of, we have compiled a list of the top 10 road trips you should take and the technology to bring along to make the miles pass more quickly.

First up, where should you go? Here are the ten places we recommend you travel to this year:

Pacific Coast Highway, California:

a photo of Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is a 655-mile-long scenic drive along California's coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It stretches from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area. Highlights include the rugged cliffs of Big Sur, picturesque coastal towns like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey, and numerous state parks and beaches. Take your time to explore the region's natural beauty, vibrant marine life, world-class wineries, and eclectic culinary scene.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina:

a photo of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina:Great the Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina:iStock

Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Known for its diverse plant and animal life, the park boasts over 800 miles of scenic trails, including a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Don't miss the chance to experience the park's waterfalls, historic structures, and breathtaking views from Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina:

a photo of Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina:Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina:iStock

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile scenic drive connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The route offers stunning vistas, picturesque towns, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities. Enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, and exploring the region's rich history and cultural heritage, including the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho:

a photo of bison in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho:Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho:iStock

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America's first national park, known for its geothermal features, diverse ecosystems, and iconic wildlife. Covering 2.2 million acres, the park offers countless opportunities for exploration, from the famous Old Faithful geyser to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Don't forget to visit the Lamar Valley for the best chances of spotting bison, wolves, and other wildlife.

Route 66, Illinois to California:

a photo of Route 66, Illinois to California:Route 66, Illinois to California:iStock

Also known as the "Main Street of America," Route 66 is a historic 2,448-mile road that stretches from Chicago to Santa Monica. This iconic route offers a nostalgic journey through America's past, with roadside attractions, classic diners, and vintage motels. Visit iconic stops like the Cadillac Ranch, Petrified Forest National Park, and the Grand Canyon.

Florida Keys, Florida:

a photo of seven mile bridge in Florida Keys, FLseven mile bridge in Florida Keys, FLiStock

The Florida Keys are a chain of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of Florida. The Overseas Highway connects the Keys and offers a laid-back atmosphere, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life. Key West, the southernmost point in the continental U.S., is known for its historic sites, vibrant nightlife, and breathtaking sunsets.

Glacier National Park, Montana:

a photo of Grinnel Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana:Grinnel Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana:iStock

Glacier National Park, located in Montana's Rocky Mountains, is a hiker's paradise with over 700 miles of trails. The park is home to glaciers, pristine lakes, and stunning mountain vistas. Drive the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which spans 50 miles across the park and offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.

The Oregon Coast:

a photo of Oregon Coast Highway Passing Cannon BeachOregon Coast Highway Passing Cannon BeachiStock

The Oregon Coast is a 363-mile stretch of stunning coastline, offering dramatic cliffs, charming towns, and picturesque lighthouses. Highlights include Cannon Beach, Cape Perpetua, and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, tide pooling, and whale watching.

New England, Northeastern U.S.:

a photo of Harbor in Rockland, Maine in New EnglandHarbor in Rockland, Maine in New EnglandiStock

New England is a region in the northeastern U.S. known for its picturesque landscapes, quaint towns, and rich history. Visit landmarks like Acadia National Park, Cape Cod, and the White Mountains. A road trip through New England allows one to explore the region's beautiful coastline, scenic mountains, and iconic fall foliage.

Grand Teton National Park:

a photo of Grand Tetons mountainsGrand Tetons mountainsiStock

Grand Teton National Park is known for its towering Teton Range, which dominates the landscape with its jagged peaks and glacial lakes. The park offers numerous outdoor activities like hiking, wildlife watching, and mountaineering. Popular spots include Jenny Lake, the Snake River, and the scenic Teton Park Road.

Smart Devices to Bring Along

This guide includes satellite navigation systems, action cameras, headphones for passengers, and ways to make your car smarter, connected, and more gadget-friendly. You can even install Alexa for $50.

Satellite Navigation

a photo of a person putting in Google Maps takes charge of navigation on the Polestar 2 GearBrain

These days it's increasingly likely that your car will have its own navigation system. Still, these vary in abilities and are often outperformed by a dedicated unit or even your smartphone.

TomTom and Garmin are the manufacturers to look for those wanting a dedicated unit, having led the sat-nav market since its inception. The $250 TomTom Go 6200 has a 6-inch touch screen, worldwide maps, Wi-Fi, voice control, and live traffic information for re-routing you on the fly. If you prefer Garmin's maps and interface, try the $160 Nuvi 57LM, which has a 5-inch touch screen, lifetime updates, and live traffic data and can be fitted with an optional reversing camera.

Maps app

Google Maps AndroidGoogle Maps wants to help you park your carwww.gearbrain.com

Alternatively, you could use your smartphone. Google Maps is free and works well, serving clear directions, live traffic data, and easily accessible information on local amenities like gas stations.

Google-owned Waze (iOS and Android) is another free option, which provides directions partly based on data shared by millions of users. The community reports that obstructions and traffic jams are flagged up because the app knows each active user's location, speed, and direction. If the app sees users getting held up, others will be offered an alternative route.

Always check local traffic laws for the states and countries you plan to drive in, as many jurisdictions forbid you from interacting with your smartphone while behind the wheel.

Smartphone mount

a photo of smartphone on HaloLock Car ChargerHaloLock Wireless Car Charger fits nicely on our car's dashboard. GearBrain

You'll want a smartphone mount if you opt for a mapping app. These can be attached to the windscreen with a suction cup or to an air vent with a clipping mechanism. iOttie is a good brand to look out for, with the $19 Easy One Touch offering a simple and secure way to keep your smartphone comfortably in sight but without being a distraction.

Magnetic phone holders, like this $8 option from Aukey, clip to an air vent and have become more popular in recent months. They require you to stick a magnetic strip to the back of your smartphone (or the back of its case), which can be difficult to remove when you come to sell it, but this offers a quicker and simpler solution to conventional windscreen mounts.


product shot of Nextbase 622GW 4K DashcamNextbase 622GW Front and Rear Dash Cam 4K ultra High Definition in-car camera Amazon

Also growing in popularity are dashboard cameras, or dash cams. These face forwards through the windshield and constantly record video as you drive. Although the legal status of the video they record varies by country, the footage can theoretically be used to prove blame if you get into an accident.

More advanced dash cams also alert you to local speed cameras and sound a warning if you do not slow down for an obstacle ahead, drift out of your lane, or are too close to the vehicle in front. Some can be hooked up to a secondary camera facing out of the rear windshield, and some stay active for 24 or 48 hours after you park up, then record when they detect movement or an impact.

Dash cams like those from Crosstour start at around $30 to $40, while more expensive units with higher video quality and more features, like the Rexing V1, cost between $100 and $200.

Action camera

GoPro Hero10 Black BundleGoPro Hero10 Black GoPro

Sticking an action camera to the outside of your car will help capture shots of the jaw-dropping scenery any well-planned road trip will take you through. Although many budget cameras are available, GoPro is the market leader and hard to ignore. Whether you opt for the $166 Hero Session or the $360 Hero 6 Black, you will get excellent video and strong build quality.

A huge range of accessories (from GoPro and third parties) means you can fit these cameras to almost anything, make them waterproof (although most new models are already), and control them from your smartphone - handy if you want to start a time-lapse from a GoPro stuck to the roof.

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360-degree camera

GoPro MaxThe GoPro Max shoots 360-degree video GoPro

Stepping your road trip movie up a gear, how about a 360-degree camera? These can be used to create flat 180-degree or 360-degree video, where you drag the video around to explore the scene or to make footage for a virtual reality headset.

At the entry level, there's the second-generation $100 SamsungGear 360 - although you'll need a recent Samsung smartphone to get the most out of it. At the mid-range, there's the new $300 Lenovo Mirage Camera, and for those on a larger budget, you should try out the $250 GoPro Fusion, which features 5.2K video capture, voice control, and some impressive cinematic shooting modes.

Plug-in Alexa

Photo of the Anker Roav Viva ProThe Roav Viva Pro includes Alexa and two USB charging sockets Anker

Alexa is best known for her smart home abilities, but there are now ways to take Amazon's virtual assistant on the road with you. The $50 Roav Viva by Anker plugs into your car's lighter socket and acts as a USB charging hub.

You can ask the assistant to bring up driving directions on your smartphone, control music playback, search for a local gas station and add events to your calendar. You can also ask Alexa to control your smart home devices from the road, switching on the heating if you leave work early, or illuminating the driveway lights as you turn onto your street.

Gaming and entertainment

Nintendo SwitchThe current Nintendo Switch has proved incredibly popular iStock

As fun as road trips can be, the view from the window can quickly become monotonous. To help keep your passengers happy, the $299 Nintendo Switch offers multiplayer console gaming in a portable package. Backseat Mario Kart on a twisting road might not go down well, but simple party games like 1-2-Switch keep passengers entertained, not carsick.

Pair the Switch with wireless, noise-canceling headphones like the $349 Bose QC35, and you'll be on to a winner - especially because the second-generation QC35s come with Google Assistant built-in.

Lighter socket USB adaptors and power inverters

Wireless phone car chargerWireless phone chargers work with most new flagship handsets Squish

A car full of smartphones, tablets, and even a games console will need more than the single USB port many vehicles come equipped with. Thankfully, a lot of power can usually be drawn from the cigarette lighter, then used to charge smartphones and even run more demanding appliances like laptops.

For around $10, you can get a lighter adapter with two USB ports, or for a larger budget, look at the circa-$35 power inverters sold by Foval or Bestek, which can charge via USB and AC sockets.

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Power Banks

a photo of Boost Charge Plus Power BankBelkiin's Boost Charge Plus USB-C Power Bank Amazon

Power banks are a road trip essential, letting you quickly charge your phone or tablet when the car's USB ports are all being used. They come in a wide range of sizes and currently top out at around 20,000 to 25,000mAh. The $17 Ruipu portable charger can power two USB devices simultaneously and is rated at 24,000mAh, which means it can fill a smartphone more than five times over.

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OBD2 scanner


Although this article is mostly about keeping your passengers entertained and connected, an OBD2 scanner is important to consider before your next road trip. These plug into the universal OBD2 port, often found below the steering wheel or in the foot well, and can tell you more information about any error lights your car is showing and the service schedule.

The $70 Foxwell NT30 is a good option for the auto enthusiast who already understands what they are looking for, while the $99 Verizon HumX comes with a 4G connection to give your car (and its passengers) an internet connection.

Bluetooth kit

Smartphone on a car dashboardCar Mode is enabled when your phone connects to a car using Bluetooth iStock

Almost all new cars come with Bluetooth, but jumping back a generation and connecting smartphones to vehicles was less common.

Thankfully, this is easy and cheap to fix. Many manufacturers produce devices that plug into the lighter socket, take music from your phone via Bluetooth, then broadcast it as a radio frequency. Tune your car radio to the right frequency, and your phone's audio comes through the speakers. These devices, such as the $18 Nulaxy Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter, also often come with a USB port to keep your phone's battery topped up as you drive.

Wireless travel router or Mobile Hotspot

Photo of a mobile hotspot by TP-LinkMobile hotspots let multiple devices connect to the same 4G-powered Wi-Fi network TP-Link

Finally, we have the portable (and wireless) travel router. There are two types of products here; the first creates a wireless network for your devices to connect to and share data across. Devices like the $40 RAVPower FileHub Plus act as a wireless network-attached hard drive, which you can connect to and either stream films from or upload files to - useful if the road trip photographer wants to upload their snaps and share with the group without spamming the WhatsApp chat.

The second device is a mobile hotspot, like the $155 Netgear Unite Explore. USB powers this and broadcasts a 4G network for devices to connect via Wi-Fi. You could use your smartphone as a hotspot instead, but dedicated routers tend to offer higher data speeds and a more reliable connection.

And use The GearBain, our product find engine to find other smart devices to take on your road trip, including smart devices compatible with your smartphone or car's infotainment system.

How to Find Products in The GearBrain, Our Compatibility Find Engine for Smart DevicesGearBrain helps simplify the Internet of Things or new connected devices for consumers. The GearBrain is the first and only ...

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