Setting off on a road trip? Don’t forget the gadgets, cleaning products and safety equipment that will make your journey more enjoyable.
We asked three experts for their top gadget picks. Here’s what they suggested…
The gadget expert: Jon Oliver, Halfords
At their simplest, dashcams are cameras that record video footage of a journey. This footage can later be used to settle the dreaded insurance blame-game swiftly and decisively.
But the products are becoming ever more sophisticated, and one of the leaders in the market is Nextbase.
The new Nextbase 312GW dashcam features inbuilt wifi and a Nextbase app, which means drivers can quickly transfer footage to their smartphone or tablet, then share however they want, whether that’s on social media, or with their car insurance company. There’s GPS and a g-force recording system, which can be useful in the event of an accident.
The 312GW features a handy powered magnetic car mount for easy installation. The camera unit takes its power from the mount, doing away with tangled wires, and the camera will automatically activate when you start your vehicle and switch off when the car’s turned off.
The new Highway 600 is made by Pure, which is a leader in in-car digital audio entertainment, and gives users access to digital radio and Spotify, and it can also work as a safe hands-free adapter for smartphones. With built in Bluetooth, it’s also a doddle to stream your own music collection.
Digital radio won’t be fitted to millions of slightly older cars, so the Highway 600 is a simple way of upgrading. Pure’s system allows listeners to add songs to a ‘Go’ playlist, which is a great way of saving new songs you like, and you can operate Siri or Google Now through it too. I like that it’s easy to fit, too.
We know what it’s like when the family bundle loads of gadgets into the car for a road trip, only to realise nothing’s charged and the leads are all still at home.
That’s why we came up with the ultimate charging kit. It plugs in to any car’s 12V power supply, and offers no fewer than seven different attachments to suit various smartphones, headphones, MP3 players and tablets.
The car cleaning expert: Mark Docherty, Autoglym
Spring and summer weather brings out the insects, which means the front of your car can take a hammering on a long drive. If you leave the dead bugs on paintwork for a long time, they can cause lasting damage. So arm yourself with Auto Glym’s Active Insect Remover and a microfiber cloth, and keep them in the boot. Then, at the end of a long drive, you can clean away the residue and keep paintwork protected and windscreens clean and smear-free.
Whether it’s a family holiday by the coast or a day trip to the seaside, you can’t miss the seagulls. When not pinching chips or making a racket, they’re making a mess – often over cars.
Their droppings can do serious harm to paintwork, and the best remedy is speedy removal of the mess. That’s why it pays to keep a pack of Autoglym’s Bird Dropping Wipes in your glovebox.
The 10 individually-sealed wipes can tackle the task with ease, and if the sun has baked the goo onto paintwork, simply leave the wipe for a few minutes to soften the mess.
Clear vision is essential on any trip, so before you set off, make sure the car’s screenwash tank is topped up.
Autoglym’s Ultimate Screenwash is highly concentrated, so it goes a long way in the summer or winter. It’s formulated to cut through all road dirt so you can see the road ahead.
Autoglym’s lab boffins made 200 different versions of the screenwash before they were finally happy with its smear-free cleaning power.
The safety expert: Nick Reid, Green Flag
Whether you’re setting off on a holiday road trip or simply popping out to collect Friday night’s Indian takeaway, it’s wise to keep a spare bulb kit in the car’s glovebox or tucked somewhere safe in the boot.
A broken headlamp will make it harder for you to see, and blown brake lights or indicators will make it tricky for other drivers to spot you, which could lead to an accident.
All you need to do is check your vehicle handbook to make sure you choose the right type of spare bulb kit for your car.
If you’re going away with the children on holiday, and travelling by car, it’s important to have a first aid kit to hand. Accidents happen, whether it’s fingers squashed in the car door or feet cut on the beach, so having a first aid kit in the car means you can help treat minor mishaps.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure you have the key for your car’s locking wheel nuts (if it has them).
If you don’t have it, you won’t be able to change a tyre if you get a puncture, which could leave you stranded at the roadside for hours if you don’t have a breakdown policy for your car. Changing a wheel is the second most common reason our technicians rescue drivers. So if you don’t have the key for the wheel nuts, a dealer of your make of car will be able to sell you a replacement.