No doubt your family is taking a road trip this summer. But it may not be all rainbows and sunshine. A recent Chevrolet survey found that 63 percent of parents said traffic is the most stressful part of a road trip, with 31 percent saying it's stressful to keep kids entertained. Some innovations in technology can help with these aspects of road trips that make lots of travelers want to pull their hair out.
The free Google Trips app continues to get better and better. This all-inclusive trip planner works well for people who like to plan everything down to a minute-by-minute schedule, but will also benefit those who are more likely to explore and find adventures off the beaten path.
First off, Google Trips will gather and organize all travel information (flights, hotels, events and car reservations) from Gmail and Inbox. The app has full-bodied city profiles with points of interest, food/drink recommendations and full transportation information. You can tell the app how much time you'll have in a place and it will recommend itineraries, which are easy to customize by adding or eliminating stops along the way. The app will point out average wait times for attractions and navigate the most efficient routes depending on whether you're driving, walking or taking public transportation. Google Trips is available offline as well, so you'll never be without all the information you need.
Many people are unaware Netflix gives you the ability to download movies so kids (and grown ups) can stay entertained in the car. Gone are the days of the portable television wedged between the front seats. Now everyone can use their own tablet, laptop or phone to watch Netflix offerings without internet capabilities in the car (though it is best to use WiFi to download the shows at home).
Not everything on Netflix is available for download. You can find which titles are offered up by clicking "Available for Download" in the Netflix menu, or by looking for the download icon on a title. While you don't need to be connected to the web to watch, you must be signed in to your Netflix account. These titles will expire, so make sure to check the dates.
People in millions of American households now use a voice assistant. Research earlier this year from Voicebot showed there are now 47.3 million smart speaker owners in the U.S. And if you call out "Hey Siri," "OK Google" or "Alexa" on a daily basis, you may have a strong opinion on which voice assistant is the best. And while Siri and Google are readily available for you to use while driving (through your phones), until this year, Alexa fans have had no way to use their beloved service while on a road trip.
The Roav VIVA by Anker ($49.99 on Amazon) combines the capabilities of Alexa with a fast car charger. Pair the VIVA with your phone and the app to get Alexa voice assistance to directions, music, smart home accessories and everything else Alexa helps you with at home. The VIVA has a 30-day money back guarantee for any reason and a 12-month warrantee for quality-related issues like materials and workmanship defects. While some may question why people wouldn't just use Siri or Google instead of buying another device, others (like this reporter for CNET) claim nothing beats Alexa's capabilities.