Plan Now For Those Get-Away-From-Home Adventures

There’s more to bring with you than just your keys, wallet and smartphone.

If you want a relaxing, comforting drive, consider adding some of these conveniences and creature comforts to your cabin.

Rapid-charging USB device: Juice your smartphone or tablet up quickly with one of these thumb-sized devices that plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet.

Some versions feature multiple slots to charge multiple devices simultaneously. The most advanced versions of this technology are called “inverters”. They are larger and rectangular and can contain three-prong inputs, for helping you charge that laptop.

Magnetic mount for your smartphone: Some vehicles are compatible with smartphone technology, others less so.

Either way, a magnetic mount for your smartphone can keep the device near eye-level, which comes in handy when using a smartphone’s navigation system. Magnetic mounts can be clipped to the air conditioning vents or affixed on or near the dashboard or windshield with an adhesive.

And don’t worry about a magnet near your $1,000 smartphone. Smartphones don’t have magnetic materials in them.

Sunglasses: Yes, everyone owns a pair of ubiquitous shades. But are shades made alike?

A resounding no, says Bill Yerby at Serengeti Eyewear.

“Sunglasses are so important people tend to include them in their mental checklist with wallet and cell phone before they leave the house,” said Yerby, who is director of sales and marketing. “While glare is the biggest issue, eye strain caused by harsh light and squinting presents a real and pervasive hazard for drivers.”

Glare comes not only from the sun, but also from roads and vehicles. Yerby suggested using sunglasses with polarized lenses, which filters the intensity of reflected light.

“No other technology comes close to cutting glare the way polarization does.”

Lenses are made of glass, plastic or composites. Glass lenses provide the best visual clarity, Yerby said.

Color affects visibility as well. Yerby suggested amber-tinted shades for driving.

“Amber is the best compromise because it is dark enough for protection in bright sunlight but light enough to still perform in the shade.”

Organizers for documents, devices and groceries: “The average driver spends more non-sleeping time in the car than in any room in the house,” said David McClees, president of the Talus Corp, a Maine-based manufacturer of car organizers. “That’s translated into people wanting to use their cabin space more efficiently.”

Maintaining order is the aesthetic reason to employ some vehicle organizers, but safety is also a major factor buyers should consider. Items could become airborne during a collision or wind up beneath one of the pedals while you’re driving.

Some organizers drape over the passenger seat, others are pockets with multiple compartments.

Tire Pressure Gauge: Tire pressure gauges allow you to measure pressure accurately. Guessing when using a filling station air compressor or estimating pressure visually risks tire damage.

But getting an accurate measurement of PSI--pounds per square inch--can be tricky. Tire pressure gauges come in a variety of compositions and some are far easier to use than others.

Some are digital. Some have hoses. Some have a dial. Some utilize a stick that pops out like a turkey baster. There’s even some that talk.

Gauges built with a metallic or brass mechanical gauge are durable and reliable, according to Accutire Gauge, a Virginia-based manufacturer of tire pressure gauges.