6 Essentials for Your Labor Day Road Trip

Summer is not over yet! And there's no better way to spend the long weekend than with a classic American road trip. Get the car trip-ready, pack the kids up, and hit the road. Need destination ideas? We've got some great ones!

Before you go, though, there are certain essentials that will help along the way, or at least make the trip a lot more fun...

GPS Navigator
Preventing frayed nerves and avoiding getting lost aren't the only benefits of having a Global Positioning System when you travel. Many of the newest models also make life easier with features like traffic, weather, and gas station info. We tested 12 units under $400 for ease of use and their ability to direct us: Check out our faves!


Save money (and calories) on fast food joints by packing some yummy road-trip snacks. We tested 27 hard- and soft-sided coolers to see which stayed below 40 degrees longest; how easy they were to pack and load, carry, and clean; and how well they handled wear and tear. We like to travel with these delicious, kid-friendly munchies.

Pocket Camcorder

Why lug around your pricey camcorder? Pocket ones are lower-cost, kid-friendly, and designed to record footage you can quickly upload to a Website - and even show on a big screen. Of the many we tested, these overshot the competition.

Beach Security

Keeping your valuables safe and dry when everyone wants to hit the water is easy with one of these clever packs. Also consider bringing a beach umbrella on seaside escapes to help reduce your risk of sunburn. We tested the eight newest portable shades for fade- and water-resistance, stability, durability, and how easy they were to open, set up, close, and carry. Plus, don't forget these necessities for a perfect beach lunch.

Portable DVD Player

As any parent knows, the number-one essential on a long trip is a portable DVD player. To make sure you get your money's worth, we checked the video and audio quality, durability, and battery life of 14 new models.

Solar Charger

Taking a solar charger along on your getaway can help you avoid the dying cell phone disaster. It draws power from the sun to amp up nearly any device. We tested 17 portable solar chargers with a slew of Zune MP3 players to see how well they could power the device.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.