10 Genius Gadgets to Bring on Your Next Road Trip

According to the CDC, fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes than they have done in decades, yet the car cigarette lighter endures. Far from being a relic of the past, the cigarette lighter receptacle is often used as a DC power connector for today's hottest gadgets. Many drivers plug GPS navigation systems or car chargers into the car cigarette lighter receptacle, but there's so much more this little outlet can do. Read on to see some of the wildest products you can power in the car.

  1. Hot Coffee

    Cup warmer


    Life is full of mysteries—such as, if cold brew coffee is so delicious, then why does lukewarm coffee taste so bad? Road trippers will never need to ponder this deep question while on the move, provided they're plugged into a trusty mug warmer.  The Retro Heated Travel Mug keeps coffee piping hot but not too hot (the heating unit automatically shuts off once the contents reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit), for optimum tastiness. Available at sharperimage.com; $49.99.

    Related: 21 Coffee Bars to Put a Pep in Your Home Design

  2. Document Everything

    Papago dash camera


    Before you embark on your next epic road trip, do yourself a favor: Equip your vehicle with a dashboard camera to capture footage of everything you see along the way! A fan favorite from category leader PAPAGO, the GoSafe 350 dash cam earns praise not only because it's easy to set up and use, but also because compared with competing products, it records higher-resolution video, for longer—up to a 10 hours at a time. Only note that for your car's cigarette lighter to power such a device, you'll also need a USB car charger—an inexpensive (and super handy) accessory. Available at Amazon; $159.99.

    Related: The 10 Best Accessories You Can Buy for Your Car

  3. On Your Radar

    Escort radar detector


    It's not the cheapest radar detector, but it's among the best. While long-range front and rear antennas scan for threats in all directions, built-in filtering minimizes interference. That means, unlike cheap, garden-variety radar detectors, the Escort Max 360 rarely triggers false alarms. In short, it's reliable—and if you're the kind of driver who likes to push the limits, the device can pay for itself many times over. Best of all, keeping the Max 360 powered up is by no means a chore. Simply plug its cord into a USB car charger (the kind that slots right into the cigarette lighter of any car). Available at Amazon; $619.99

    Related: 10 Reliable Products That Have 100+ Years of Good Reviews

  4. Toasty Warm

    Seat warmer


    Say goodbye to the winter tradition of sitting like an ice cube in your front seat while you wait for the car heater to finally kick in. With the Wagan Heated Seat Cushion your bum will be warm in a matter of seconds. The affordable cushion easily straps around the back of the car seat and can has two heating levels for personalized comfort. Available on Amazon; $19.97. 

    Related: 10 Life-Changing Buys to Help You Survive Winter Mornings

  5. Shine Bright

    Car flashlight


    A flashlight is a key component of every car preparedness kit. The handy tool can alert traffic if your car breaks down, illuminate your workspace while changing a tire, help you find missing items in the dark, and even double as a headlight in emergency situations. If you’re in the market for a new flashlight, consider this one from Maglite. It plugs into your cigarette lighter for charging, so you don’t have to worry about the battery running out, and it also has a detachable pocket clip, four different functions (momentary, full power, power save, and strobe), and a beam distance of 181 meters. Available on Amazon; $94.13.

    Related: 10 Things You Never Thought to Keep in Your Car

  6. The Portable Kettle



    The craving for a cuppa can hit anytime—even while cruising down the highway at 65 mph. Be prepared with the Unix Electric Kettle, which plugs into the cigarette lighter for on-the-go usage. Made with stainless steel and food-grade silicone, the kettle safely and quickly brings water to boil, while a digital display lets you monitor its temperature. The kettle is also good for more than making tea; consider using it for instant noodles, boiled eggs, and baby formula! Available on Amazon; $47.40.

    Related: 10 Kitchen Products That Will Last a Lifetime

  7. Hot Plate

    Portable stove car


    Road trips are a great way to see America—and sample regional fast food along the highway. No matter where the road takes you, you can keep your eats hot with this portable food warmer. The toolbox-sized stove heats to 300 degrees to reheat your carry-out meals, or cook a tailgating feast. Available on Amazon; $34.43.

    Related: 12 Kitchen Gadgets People Always Regret Buying

  8. Clean on the Go

    Vacuum cleaner


    The car is the site of many tiny messes but it's the last place many of us think to clean. Over time, dust collects in the cup holders, dirt and leaves accumulate along the floor, and the occasional puddle of snow melt ends up on the floor mats. This mighty machine—small enough to be stored in the trunk of your car—can clean all of that and more. The 14-foot cord plugs directly into the car cigarette lighter, so you'll never need to wrestle with an extension cord. Available on Amazon; $28.99.

    Related: 9 Products You'll Love—Even If You Hate Cleaning

  9. Spa Treatment



    If you find that hours slumped over your office desk or tense at the wheel during deadlock are finally taking a toll on your back, you might consider hopping in the car to drive yourself to a masseuse for some deep-tissue therapy. Now, you can get relief on the road! Simply power this back and neck pillow in your car's cigarette lighter and position it between your back and your seat. Its kneading massage balls will roll over your muscles (with or without heat!) for up to 20 minutes so that you can squeeze in a soothing massage just about anywhere. Available on Amazon; $29.99.

    Related: 9 Crazy Gadgets That Cost More Than Your Mortgage

  10. A Quick Shave

    Kingtech portable electric shaver


    Discovered a rough patch you missed during your routine morning shave? This portable electric razor can be kept in the glove compartment for just such emergencies, charged via USB on an adapter that plugs right into the cigarette car lighter. But its size and shareable cord aren't the only reasons you'll want this doodad in your car: When not in use, it emits a fragrance that lasts up to 12 months and its handle can be wielded as a steel hammer to break through the window in case of a more dire emergency. Available at Amazon; $15.99.

    Related: 10 Gadgets for Every Lazy Cook's Kitchen

  11. See the Kitchen of the Week


    These innovative and beautiful kitchens may inspire your next renovation or redecorating project. Take a look to see the latest images and inspiration.