Most of us live increasingly connected lives. While it’s worth considering “unplugging” – refraining from using digital devices – for at least part of the upcoming holidays, there’s one time one most certainly should not be without the ability to communicate via such technology.
Yes, we’re talking about the humble road trip.
During any lengthy journey via South Africa’s highways and byways, it’s important to remain connected and able to reach out should one require some sort of assistance or maybe even just for some entertainment.
So, what steps should one take to ensure your vehicle is tech-ready for both safety and convenience these December holidays, heading towards a chosen holiday destination?
Be prepared to make good use of your car’s 12V outlet
Well, the most obvious way is to make sure you take along all the requisite charging paraphernalia (from various charging cables to adapters) for your smartphone, tablet and any other electronic devices you’ve packed. During the drive, you can easily keep these gadgets topped up should your vehicle come equipped with USB ports. If not, consider purchasing an inexpensive USB charging adapter that plugs into your car’s 12V outlet and does the same job.
Take advantage of video streaming in your car
Of course, in-car technology also includes an entertainment element, which can be particularly useful for parents of young children. While there are several more traditional road-trip activities to keep kids occupied, brief periods of digital entertainment can be a welcome reprieve from the boredom sometimes experienced on long drives.
For instance, Volvo vehicles with Google built-in now come pre-installed with YouTube as part of an over-the-air update, while Amazon’s Prime Video is available to download to the vehicle’s infotainment system via Google Play. Since safety is at the very core of the Swedish firm’s business, access to this sort of video streaming is obviously available only when the car is fully stationary. Nevertheless, it’s a useful feature when stuck in long queues at stop-go roadworks or petrol stations, for example.
Set up your smartphone for emergencies
Did you know that most smartphones can be set up to provide crucial information in an emergency? The iPhone, for instance, allows you to create a so-called “Medical ID” – complete with essential details about your health and even your emergency contacts – which can be configured to be available from the device’s lock screen (as well as that of your Apple Watch). In addition, keep in mind that many types of smartphones are capable of sending an SOS to the local emergency number (or your selected emergency contacts), a process with which you should be familiar before heading off on your journey.
Of course, there are plenty of other interesting tech gadgets available too, from Bluetooth receivers (great for older cars without this sort of connectivity), plug-in cooler boxes (powered by a 12V outlet) and even dashcams. Before you close your laptop and head off on that long-awaited road trip, make sure you, your vehicle and your devices are ready.