The Jalopnik Gift Guide for Road-Trippers and Folks Who Spend a Ton of Time in Their Cars

The Jalopnik Gift Guide for Road-Trippers and Folks Who Spend a Ton of Time in Their Cars

What do you get for someone who's always driving? Whether they're a hardcore commuter, a roadtripper, or a professional driver, they'll love this stuff.

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In the last decade of traveling for work and play, I’ve put a lot of miles on my car. And when you’re alone out there on the road, the things you carry with you can take on a personality of their own. From your favorite road-trip playlist to the trusty backpack riding shotgun, it’s easy to get attached to your things.

Chances are, you know someone in a similar situation — the obsessive road-tripper, the professional driver, or the person with a heroic commute. And if they manage (somehow) to get home for the holidays, these folks can be tricky to shop for. After all, what good is a toaster oven or new pair of slippers to someone who spends most of their time behind the wheel?

Fear not. There are plenty of gifts out there that can make your road warrior’s life a bit easier. I’ve assembled ten of the best items I’ve found that make long days in the car easy, stress-free and fun. Anything here should be a welcome gift for the mile-eating road warrior in your life.

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In the age of streaming, digital storage might not be the first gift that pops to mind. But think about it: If your loved one likes to travel, chances are they’ve built up a considerable backlog of photos. This SanDisk 1TB Solid State Drive will interface with most devices (including directly to your Android phone), with enough capacity to hold more podcasts, music, and digitized images than you can expect to enjoy over a half-dozen trips.

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This Black + Decker 12-volt car vacuum is an upgraded version of a tool I carried for years. The amount of messes it cleaned up made it well worth the asking price, and this corded version eliminates the charging issues I eventually ran across with my battery-powered model. But if you absolutely must go cordless, there’s a rechargeable lithium option that should last awhile.

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What’s the best way to keep your vehicle’s carpet from getting dirty in the first place? Call in the folks at WeatherTech. These heavy-duty mats are an absolute lifesaver in snowy or muddy regions, keeping the junk on your boots from getting mashed into your car’s carpet. Shaped and tailored specifically to your make and model of car, you can be sure that these will fit snugly and stay securely in place.

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An unfortunate truth of the road: You never know when something might break. And when it’s time for a surprise fuse swap or new battery, few tools come more in handy than a high-quality multitool. The Leatherman Wave Plus remains king of these general-use wonders. But if you’re looking for something more on the budget end, the Leatherman Wingman or Leatherman Rev provide cheaper, serviceable options.

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As cool as a multitool might be, there’s no replacement for a serious tool set. This 67-Piece Home and Auto Kit from Hi-Spec is offered in both SAE and Metric versions, replete with a variety of pliers and drivers. Will it be enough to swap out a radiator? Perhaps not, but for minor automotive repairs, or any surprise mechanical work you have to carry out on the side of the road, this kit should keep you covered.

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Tool Organizer

Tool Organizer

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Admit it: Nobody likes a cluttered glove box. If you’re trying to keep your various travel tools in order, a small EDC organizer like this one from Vanquest is a great solution. EDC, in this case, stands for “Every Day Carry.” They’re durable yet small enough to throw in your backpack or trunk, with plenty of pockets and space. Or if you’re feeling cheeky, splurge a bit with one of the hand-made bags from a company like NutSac.

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Picture this. You’ve been on the road for 14 hours. Finally, you stumble over the threshold of your hotel room. But a quick sniff lets you know that, in a previous life, these were smoker-friendly accommodations, and the sheets have seen better days. You can either go back to the desk and demand a different room (and hope there’s one available), or grab your own bedding from the trunk.

Sound unlikely? It’s happened to me, folks! And in these cases, a nice sleeping bag and inflatable pillow are a godsend. I like this mummy-style bag from Teton, for maximum warmth in a trunk-friendly package. A sleeping bag also provides you with the option of turning your back seat into your own personal hotel room, in the event you need a quick nap. And if you ever get stranded in cold weather, you’ll be grateful for the warmth of a real sleeping bag.

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If you travel enough, you’ll eventually get tired of packing and unpacking your toothbrush. With a small toiletry kit like this one from Carhartt, you can keep all your travel necessities ready to go. I’ve found these bathroom kits to be all but indispensable. They cut down on packing time and provide a homey touch to your hotel sink.

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A search for “power bank” yields over a thousand results on Amazon. But after a little research and a whole bunch of travel last summer, I can recommend this INIU 20000mAh portable charger as a leading functional candidate. It holds enough juice to fill up your tablet or phone multiple times, and with one USB-C and two USB-A outputs, you can charge several devices at once. I particularly enjoy the digital battery display, which is far better than the typical line of blinking lights.

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You know what’s worse than a depleted phone battery? A dead batter under your car’s hood. If you want enough juice to charge your laptop, your phone, and your car in a pinch, this 3000A, 100W GT3000 from GOOLOO has you covered. Despite its somewhat goofy name, this brand appears on multiple “Best of” lists when it comes to car jumpstart kits, along with a 4.6/5 rating averaged over 502 reviews on Amazon.

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