Road trips can be brutal, but bringing along the right technology can make even the longest of car rides more bearable. I recently put my car technology to the test over a three-day road trip that put 1750 miles on my car and resulted in me spending approximately 24 hours behind the wheel during that time span.
When I was in the market for a new vehicle last December, I debated whether I should spend the extra $2-$5k on a vehicle model that had all the latest technology: lane assist, intelligent braking, and a huge touch screen infotainment center. When all was said and done I settled on a much simpler model, whose crowing technology feature was a relatively un-impressive Bluetooth package. My rationale was that any automotive technology would become nearly obsolete when I drove it off the lot, and as long as I could connect a relatively modern phone to my gently used 2019 Honda Ridgeline, I could get the most out of it from a technology perspective.
While there have been a few times I wished I had the smart braking or lane assist technology, I’ve had very few regrets from my purchase decision and have found I need only three relatively simple technology advances to get me through anything from my morning commute or a 1750 mile road trip.
Any cell phone with Bluetooth and a data plan should be just fine. If your car (or Cell Phone) isn’t equipped with the latest Bluetooth, or any Bluetooth at all, a USB connection to your car’s audio system may do. If that doesn’t cut it, you should be able to use an old-school 3.5mm to Cassette Player or an FM transmitter to get audio from your phone to your car (yeah – they still exist). Personally, I have an older iPhone 7 which connects directly to my cars infotainment system via the car’s Bluetooth.
Cell Phone Holder
Cell Phone mounts can be expensive. I previously purchased a $50+ phone mount that was customized for both my device and the car. After switching cars, I realized simplicity is the best option for car mounts. Instead of buying another expensive and car or device-specific mount, I settled on a cheap (~$7), universal TechMatte Phone Mount that clips to nearly any cars vent system and allow you to magnetically clip in your phone to the mount.
Not only is it simple and cheap, but it’s elegant and works better than any car mount I’ve used in the past. I affix a magnetic strip to the inside of my phone’s case and then attach the mount to the car vent. When I enter the car, I simply hold up my phone next to the vent mount and magnetism does the rest of the work. It works flawlessly and gives me direct access to control my music without fumbling with complicated car mounts.
With the music player (phone) and a connection to your car (mount) all covered, all you need to round out your car setup is load up on content for your next trip. Over the 24 hours of car time on my last road trip, I spent most of that time listening podcast content. For that I recommend the Podbean podcast player – but you can use your favorite online or offline player to get the content you want.
Conclusion & Bonus
That’s it! Car tech doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. In fact, most lifestyles and budgets should be able to afford these three pieces of technology and software needed to make your road trip or commute more bearable. That’s the beauty of it: road trips and car trips are about simplicity and your digital lifestyle need not further complicate things.
That being said, if you want another (bonus) piece of technology to try out in your car, give the Muse Car Audio system or the new Amazon Echo Auto a try. They’re both great for controlling audio (or the rest of your digital life) with your voice; however, I’ve found Alexa, Siri, or Google home straight from your phone will get you most of the way there without any additional car hardware or digital complexity.
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