CHRIS A RUSNAK
TECH CONNEC TION
AS YOU PREPARE for your road trips this
spring and summer, don’t forget to pack a little
tech to enhance your ride.
Whether it’s apps to help keep you organized on your travels or gadgets to entertain
the kids in the back seat (to prevent “Are we
there yet?”), technology can play a role in getting you from point A to point B. Here are a few
suggestions to get you going.
The right devices
Your smartphone, of course, is where it all
starts. Using it as a camera, GPS navigation unit
and more has become second nature for many
people. It also serves as a wallet if you’ve activated any mobile payment apps.
But a key question is: Is your phone waterproof? If it is, you don’t have to worry about
getting it wet when you’re using it as a camera.
Otherwise, you might want to pack a small
waterproof digital camera.
A touch-screen tablet is also great on long
road trips, especially to help kids pass the time.
Before you leave home, load it up with games and
e-books. Also, many movie, TV show and music
streaming services let you download content
without requiring an internet connection.
The next challenge is how to keep these
devices charged. You can charge them in your
car while driving, but if you’re away from the
vehicle a lot, invest in a small backup battery.
These come in a variety of sizes and capacities.
One other device that can be really useful
is a portable lithium-ion jump starter and per-
sonal power supply. Surprisingly small, these
handy gadgets can start your dead car in an
emergency and recharge your devices.
Last, many savvy travelers prefer to use a
dashboard-mountable GPS. These come in a
variety of features and price ranges and don’t use
your precious data-plan allotment or drain your
Apps to help out
Apps for your iPhone or Android device can
help out tremendously on your vacation. Here
are my favorites.
Roadtrippers–Trip Planner is a great tool for
road warriors as it lets you discover millions of
places along your route—whether you want to
find a great restaurant, a recommended motel
or hotel, a national park, quirky roadside attractions or other points of interest. Plan, save and
share your trip itinerary on the app.
Consider loading Waze on your smartphone,
as it’s the world’s largest community-based navigation app. By crowd-sourcing traffic and road
info from millions of Waze users (“Wazers”), you
get real-time information on the roads around
you, alerting you to situations such as accidents,
construction zones and speed traps.
Also consider Tollsmart (for fees charged
by all U.S. and Canadian tunnels, bridges and
toll roads), iExit (pit-stop finder), Flush Toilet
Finder (which shows public bathrooms in your
area), Spotify (music and podcasts), Audible
(audiobooks), Netflix (movies and TV shows),
AAA Mobile (emergency roadside assistance
and more) and Open Table (restaurant reservations). The Costco app shows the nearest Costco
locations, including gas stations.
Keep in mind
Here are a few more tips to help ensure
• Most states have strict distracted-driving
laws, so remember to only use your smartphone
hands-free (better yet, don’t use it at all while
• Be careful when using free public Wi-Fi
hotspots, as there could be cyber-thieves trying
to access your info. Do simple things like reading
the news. Don’t enter sensitive data like online
• Be sure to back up important files—
photos, documents and such—just in case your
phone, tablet or laptop is lost, stolen or damaged. Take advantage of free cloud storage, such
as OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive.
While you’re at it, keep a digital scan of your driver’s license or passport on this cloud drive, just
in case. This could help in getting replacement
Essential gadgets for
your road trips
Costco features all the tech
gadgets mentioned here for
your vacations. You can also
stock up on food and essentials
for your getaway, get new tires
for your vehicle and ;nd much
more for road trips at your local
Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of more
than ;; books. He’s on
Saltzman will answer
selected questions in this
column. He regrets that
unpublished questions cannot
be answered individually.
Please include “Marc Saltzman
Q&A” in the subject line.
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
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Travel To-Do List
• Charging cords
• Load tablet with
• Travel apps
• Cloud storage
• GPS navigation
• Mobile dashboard