The Weekly Geek: Road Trip Gadgets


Hello, fellow geeks. I’m returning today from a whirlwind road trip of the United States of America, a vacation made especially geeky by my party’s use of gadgets. Sure, we had paper maps and good old-fashioned wanderlust to help us, but I very much doubt we’d have made it out of our own state if it weren’t for one very special device.

I’m talking, of course, about the ubiquitous, nigh-omniscient GPS device.

Before the excursion, I was weary of these little gems. As much as I’m a fan of all things electronic, I used to be a real purist when it came to driving directions. I’d get a map (most likely via computer, natch), plot out my route, and go on my merry way, turning my nose up at fellow drivers with their windshield-mounted “easy buttons.”

I also used to get lost and end up in sketchy liquor stores asking for directions, but that’s a different story.

Now, I’m a believer. “Carmen” as my friend’s GPS came to be called, was a total Godsend. Her cool, British demeanor and ability to find us vegetarian food at 12 a.m. in the middle of nowhere won my heart in a matter of hours.

As such, I thought I’d share a very cool link for like-minded travelers. Over at CNET, Bonnie Cha has an excellent blog devoted to all things GPS called Miss Direction. When our beloved Carmen was inevitably stolen (a sad fact of city life), this was the first place I went for buying advice and tips on how to add celebrity voices to Carmen 2.0’s repertoire. I have to say, I was pretty disheartened (though unsurprised) to find out that Sarah Shahi’s voice isn’t available — she’ll be Carmen in name only until then.

Certainly, the noble iPhone deserves a nod for making our trip easy and fun — and a pat on the back for it’s various traveler-friendly apps. Maps were used extensively to find appropriate eating, drinking and sleeping establishments, and much road-friendly music was played through the course of our travels.

All in all, it’s good to be a gadget geek traveling in the 21st century. Nothing says “wonderfully anachronistic” better than snapping photos of bears grazing in Yellowstone Park and instantly flicking them out to buddies on three continents. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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