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 will go by automobile this year, with about 48.7 million people driving 50 miles or more from home. That’s up nearly 2 percent over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. So why not make the journey more enjoyable? After all, you could spend hours sitting in traffic. Or maybe dinner at your cousin’s house wasn’t as tasty, er, filling, as you had hoped. 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’ve got an espresso machine that plugs into your 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’ve got hot caffeine on the go. $188.71. Information: Amazon.com.
Yet 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. $30.98. Information: 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’nFun Seat Organizer is both a leakproof, insulated cooler as well as a back seat organizer for gadgets, toys and sundries. Drinks and food go in the cooler, the top of which doubles as a tray table, while 10 storage pockets on the outside are roomy enough to hold books, glasses, music players, and tablets up to seven inches wide. A removable shoulder strap means that in other seasons you can take it out of the car for a picnic. $28.99. Information: Amazon.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. Information: Yeti.com/rambler-20.
For those who are always colder than everyone else in the car, there’s no need to shiver. The Comfy Cruise Heated Car Blanket by Maxsa is available in several colors and has a cord that will reach the back seat. Just plug it into the outlet. $33.99. Information: 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 Hooded 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. $39.99. Information: Grandtrunk.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. $59.50. Information: Eddiebauer.com.
Those who enjoy classic games like Hangman, Memory and, of course, the U.S.A. License Plate Game may appreciate travel gameboard versions with no loose pieces from Melissa & Doug. $12.99 to $19.99 each. Information: 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. $27.47. Information: 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 Kids PadPockets Tablet Holder and Car Seat Organizer helps you use more of the seat back thanks to pockets for toys, snacks and games. $30. Information: 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 Bose. The SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II offer up to 15 hours of play time. $229.95. Information: Bose.com.