Perhaps one of the most obvious tech gadgets in use today when on vacation is the GPS unit. This relatively simple-to-use device allows you to not only get easily from point A to point B, but also allows you to find new places of interest once you get to your vacation destination. What you may not know is that some newer GPS units also allow you to navigate a route using less fuel, monitor your fuel consumption and avoid traffic. Savings in the wallet and savings in time! Check out a GPS that offers live traffic reports such as a Garmin or TomTom. To get even fancier, Garmin has an accessory (ecoRouteHD) that ties your Garmin ecoRouteHD compatible GPS into your vehicle’s computer-control system to provide you with live engine data, including miles-per-gallon and engine trouble codes, right on your Garmin GPSs screen!
The smartphone is another tech tool that can help you save some cash. For example, a slew of applications are available on the market that allow you to see average area gas prices. Some applications, including GasBuddy (iPhone/Android), AccuFuel (iPhone/iPad) and GasBook (iPhone), even help you calculate whether or not it is wise to drive out of your route to save a few cents at a cheaper station. Smartphones and tablet devices can also help keep those back-seat drivers occupied by providing endless choices of entertainment. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you “are we there yet?” gets very old very quickly.
Technology can also help keep you safer when you are away. Digital cameras can be used to take a backup picture of vital documents such as passports or the condition of your rental car. GPS routing can be utilized at home before you leave, so you can let loved ones know your expected travel and arrival times. Smartphone and tablet applications that share your live location can also be shared with loved ones for a little extra peace of mind on those long-haul trips. Some people even leave their webcam-equipped computers on at home so they can log in via an internet connection and view get a live view of what is going on in the house.
Below is a short checklist you may find useful in planning and executing your vacation travel. Enjoy your adventure and keep it safe:
- Plan route in the GPS, write down times/dates and share with loved ones via email or written letter.
- Take pictures/make photocopies of important documents as backups in case you lose the originals.
- On the day of departure have a list ready of all accessories: Do you have power cords, charters, batteries, and mounts for all your gadgets? Would an all-in-one power supply or charger help cut down wires?
- During your trip use your phone, portable DVD or tablet as a source of entertainment.
- Check in with your loved ones periodically by phone or email, especially if you have to deviate from your planned route.
- Always remember to have a map as a backup. GPS units are not infallible and should not be your only source of navigation whether you are in the car or on the trail.
Please, use your head, it is the best safety device you will ever have!