While talk of Thanksgiving travel often centers around the cost and tribulations of flying, during the holiday weekend more Americans actually hit the road. AAA estimated that nearly 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers in 2014 would go by automobile, with about 46 million people driving 50 miles or more from home.
This year, why not make the journey more enjoyable? After all, you could spend hours sitting in traffic.
Everyone knows to bring along the usual accessories, like phone chargers and tablet mounts. But certain extras can help shift a ho-hum road trip into the next gear. Below, a guide.
Whether you want to perk up for the family gathering or stay awake for the long drive home after dinner, you needn’t stop for coffee if you have an espresso machine that plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter.
The Handpresso Auto Espresso Machine fits in your cup holder. Just plug it into the 12-volt power outlet, add water and a coffee pod, and you have hot caffeine on the go. $199.99, www.brookstone.com.
But that’s not all you can do with your car’s outlet. Why not warm up rice and vegetables for the kids, or that leftover apple pie, in a portable stove? The RoadPro 12-Volt Portable Stove plugs into the outlet and can be used to heat (up to 300 degrees) all kinds of precooked food, from soup to frozen dinners. $33.06, www.amazon.com.
Rather than have open bags, boxes and bottles tumbling around the car, keep everyone’s cravings together in an easy-to-see organizer. The High Road Kids Large Food’n Fun Seat Organizer is both a leakproof, insulated cooler and a back-seat organizer for gadgets, toys and sundries.
Drinks and food go in the cooler, and the top doubles as a tray table. Ten storage pockets on the outside are roomy enough to hold books, glasses, music players, and tablets up to 7 inches wide. A removable shoulder strap means that in other seasons you can take it out of the car for a picnic. $40, www.highroadorganizers.com.
Long car rides call for cups that can hold a lot while also keeping hot drinks truly hot, and cold drinks cold. The 20-ounce stainless steel Yeti Rambler Tumbler, made for outdoor enthusiasts, has double-wall vacuum insulation to do just that. $29.99, http://yeticoolers.com.
For those who are always colder than everyone else in the car, there’s no need to shiver. This fleece Plaid Electric Blanket is large (59 by 43 inches) and has an 8-foot-long cord that plugs into the outlet. $22.99, www.wayfair.com.
A crowded car is not necessarily conducive to napping. When you want to block out light, not to mention your fellow passengers, there’s the Grand Trunk Travel Pillow. A black, memory-foam neck pillow with an adjustable hood attached, it’s covered in microfleece. And the pillow rolls up into the hood when you arrive and want to stash it away. $39.95, www.llbean.com.
When there’s just enough of a chill in the air to make you wish you were on your couch instead of in a car, it’s time for blankets. Sheepskin is especially warm; just buy a natural throw and leave it in the car. If you want something tidier, though, the Sheepskin Wrap Car Seat Cover might fit the bill. It slips over most bucket seats, and it’s dark, so spills are camouflaged. $189.99, www.brookstone.com.
For something more versatile and machine washable, a down blanket does the trick. As the name suggests, Eddie Bauer’s Oversized Down Throw is lightweight, warm and roomy, with fleece on one side and a quilted polyester shell on the other. $79.99, www.eddiebauer.com.
Those who enjoy classic games like Hangman, Memory and, of course, the USA License Plate Game may appreciate travel gameboard versions like the handheld Hangman game, with no loose pieces, from Melissa & Doug. $12.99-$19.99 each, www.melissaanddoug.com.
If you want to use your laptop in the car (or a gadget that requires a plug) but you’re out of juice, you’re not out of luck. The PowerCup Inverter, designed to look like a coffee cup, allows you to plug in and charge through your car’s outlet. $27.08, www.amazon.com.
Anyone with children and a car is familiar with tablet seat-back mounts that allow them to watch movies and television shows. The High Road PadPockets Tablet Holder and Car Seat Organizer helps you use more of the seat back thanks to pockets for toys, snacks and games. $30, www.highroadorganizers.com.
Headphones are a must for those times when you want to sleep, watch a movie, listen to your own music or take a phone call over Bluetooth. If you’re going to invest in a pair that lasts and blocks ambient noise, check out one of the latest offerings from Bose. The SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II offer up to 15 hours of play time, with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. $279.95, www.bose.com.