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This Summer’s Most Helpful and Most Unusual Road Trip Gadgets

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Summer is the main season for road trips, but with Labor Day around the corner, now is the moment to stop and ponder what we have learned from our summer drives. Road-trip enthusiast Sharon Uy shares her pick of four of this summer’s most notable road trip gadgets.

Road trips have seldom been heralded as relaxing vacation ideas. Luckily, we now live in an age where there seems to be a useless gadget solution to every problem. Of the many new items on the market this year, a few do come in handy. And a few others will at least provide a welcome joke for the tedium of a long and taxing drive. Here’s my pick of this summer’s most interesting road trip gadgets.

Nap Zappers

Drowsiness is one of the most serious road trip woes. If you’ve ever found yourself dozing off only to be reawakened by the jarring of your tires on a lane’s divider, you might want to invest in an anti-sleep gadget. When coffee spiked with 5-Hour Energy just doesn’t cut it, use the Nap Zapper ($5 for basic design, $9.50 for “elite” at napzapper.com) to help keep you awake.

It looks like a Bluetooth and fits snugly over your ear, with an alarm that sounds as soon as your head nods below a certain angle. The head angle can be adjusted depending on your driving position. And if you need more than alarm to keep you awake, you should probably let someone else have a go at the wheel.

GoGirl LogoGoGirls

If you’re a woman and have ever had the unwelcome urge to use the restroom or just want to avoid another dirty gas station bathrooms, there is hope in the form of the GoGirl. It’s a funnel-shaped plastic device which allows females to “go” without having to make contact with questionable toilet seats. Some might even say it’s a step towards gender equality in that women can now pee standing upright.

Aside from the political aspect of the GoGirl, it’s efficient, hygienic, reusable, easy to use, easy to clean, and comes in either a pretty lavender or a more discreet khaki. You can get one for $9.99 on their Web site―a small price to pay for a lifetime of avoiding contact with public toilet seats or squatting in bushes. You can also buy a pack of three for $26.97, or a 13-pack for $107, for handing out at bachelorette parties, tupperware get-togethers, or all-girl hiking expeditions.

The Most Portable Potty

Now for those who have ever taken on a family road trip with small children in tow, you may be familiar with those unavoidable pleas and whines for a potty break. If you’re miles from the nearest bathroom and aren’t ready to give you child a crash course in outdoor bathroom procedures, there’s the Folding Travel Potty.

It’s a portable potty that folds into such a compact package, your little one can carry it himself. The best part is there’s no cleanup involved. All you need to do is affix the appropriate plastic bag to the seat, have kiddo do his business, zip up that bag for easy disposal, and you’re back on the road.

For $24.95 [at onestepahead.com ], the Folding Travel Potty may not be the most graceful way to have one’s child use the bathroom while traveling, but it beats accidents. Sorry Mom and Dad, you’ll have to hold it since the seat only supports up to 70 lbs.

Gas BuddyGas Buddy Logo

There is one last issue that every road tripper will grapple with: gas prices. Let’s be real, “cheap gas” doesn’t seem to exist anywhere these days. High gas prices may prompt you to second-guess even going on a road trip, but fear not!

If you have a smartphone and a persistent spirit, there are apps that can pinpoint the cheapest gas stations around. The category leader is GasBuddy. The free app offers a thorough list of gas stations with respective gas prices in all grades. It also has a map feature that shows gas station icons with price. It even provides directions after you select a gas station.

It’s kind of like a wiki-gas station-app since users sign in and report prices from whichever gas station they are filling up at. Not only does GasBuddy document cheap gas, it lets you know the last time it was updated so that you know if you’re seeing prices from last year, or even last week.

By Sharon Brooke Uy for PeterGreenberg.com.

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