Image: La Pavoni Velox Espresso Machine
What’s a road trip without fresh espresso to fuel the journey? The La Pavoni Velox delivers two steaming cups of fresh espresso using a car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter.
By Josh Belzman Writer and producer
updated 7/17/2005 7:53:17 PM ET 2005-07-17T23:53:17

As you hit the road this summer for an escape to the wilderness or a weekend engagement with Mickey, Goofy and your credit card, keep in mind there are dangers lurking around the bend.

Hunger, thirst, fatigue, a swollen bladder — these are just a few of the obstacles a driver must confront on the long path to a short vacation.

“Pshaw,” you say. “I’m ready for anything!”

Not so fast, road warrior. It’s not enough to pack a wireless earpiece for your cell phone, an in-dash GPS navigation system, a portable DVD player, a satellite radio receiver and a digital tire pressure gauge.

Any motorist worth his or her driving gloves must be ready to meet the challenges of the road head on. Are you prepared to brew espresso, cook a pizza, or answer nature’s call from the comfort of your rig?

Thanks to the versatility of the standard auto’s 12-volt cigarette lighter, it’s getting easier for drivers to tackle the rigors of the summer road trip.

Hit the road with a jolt
Pulling onto the interstate at 4 a.m. can quickly dampen one’s enthusiasm for the long trip ahead, so why not perk up with a steaming hot espresso? Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks hasn’t opened a shop at every rest stop in the lower 48 states. However, you can open a coffee stand right on your passenger seat thanks to the La Pavoni Velox 12-Volt Espresso Machine.

Available for about $90 in blue, black or yellow, the Velox pumps out two one-ounce cups of espresso heated to 180 degrees. All that’s required to bring the flavors of Venice to your Voyager are water, ground espresso beans and, you guessed it, a 12-volt cigarette lighter. Latte and cappuccino aficionados will have to froth their milk elsewhere, as this Italian-made unit dispenses straight espresso only.

Drivers preferring a regular cup of Joe are also in luck. RoadPro offers a 12-volt drip coffee maker that can begin dispensing java in less than 15 minutes. Available for about $40 from a number of Web distributors, the unit features a 10-cup carafe designed to remain secure during even the most turbulent driving, boating or tailgating.

Cruising cuisine

Image: Toaster Oven Pizzeria
Any time is pizza time with the RoadPro Toaster Oven Pizzeria. The 12-volt unit features multiple settings for heating a small pie or other foods.
When the sun finally does sneak over the horizon, a driver’s thoughts might turn to breakfast. Perhaps a tasty Danish is in order. Rather than lose time pulling into a diner for a bite, why not bring the bakery to your front seat? RoadPro’s line of in-car culinary appliances includes a toaster oven that can heat pastries or a small pizza. The $30 Toaster Oven Pizzeria includes high/low settings for baking, broiling and warming.

A full array of tools for the 12-volt gourmet are also available through Athena’s Max Burton appliance line. Ambitious road trippers can heat hot dogs, pop popcorn, prepare a roast or blend mixed (non-alcoholic) drinks using inexpensive appliances that can be plugged into a car’s power point.

Image: Autobahn Cup Cooler and Warmer
Digital Photos by Guy Turner (818) 693-3088
The Autobahn keeps beverages warm or cool at the flip of a switch.
Keeping beverages at the right temperature on the road is a snap with the Autobahn Cup Cooler and Warmer. The manufacturer of this sharp-looking $30 device claims space-age technology helps ensure cold drinks stay cold and hot drinks stay hot (a toggle switch unleashes this power). A dual-cup model is available for $40 and an optional AC power adapter allows the unit to be plugged into a fixed outlet.

Image: Portable Auto Fridge
Brookstone’s Portable Auto Fridge keeps up to eight cans of cola cold.
Motorists planning a long outing or a picnic should check out one of several portable coolers suitable for use on the road. Brookstone’s Portable Auto Fridge uses 12-volt power to chill up to eight soda cans or 8-inch bottles. The $75 unit includes a roll-back top and an adjustable carry strap.

RoadPro offers a smaller electric cooler that will hold a six-pack of soda cans. The $50 unit can also be used to keep food warm.

No time for a pit stop?

Indipod toilet system
Daycar Ltd.
The Indipod toilet system has an inflatable enclosure containing a chemical toilet that can be deployed in the back of a minivan or SUV.
Consuming a five-course meal at 65 mph is bound to leave motorists in need of relief. Rest stops be damned! An English firm has come up with a novel way to answer the call of the wild without spoiling the wilderness or retreating to civilization. The Indipod in-car toilet system is an inflatable enclosure containing a chemical loo that can be deployed in the back of a minivan or SUV. Once the Indipod’s privacy bubble is inflated using a 12-volt blower, the occupant climbs inside and does his or her business. The $375 unit can be deflated and stowed for future use.

Image: TheraSpa 10-Motor Massaging Seat Topper
The TheraSpa seat topper features 10 motors that deliver relaxing pulses across five body zones.

While it’s not a good idea to escape into an Indipod while navigating the fast lane, there are comforts available to the road-weary driver. The TheraSpa 10-Motor Massaging Seat Topper, available from Brookstone, delivers a variety of soothing pulses and vibrations to the back, lumbar area, and thighs. The $99 micro suede-trimmed unit includes a wired remote control that can select from three massage types (tension relief, lower back and all-over) and three intensity levels. The seat topper can also apply heat to the lower back. A smaller, lumbar-only model is available for $50.

Image: Driev Alert Master
Wake up! The Drive Alert Master emits a loud beep when a driver's head slumps below a predetermined angle.
An afternoon massage may do wonders for a sore rump, but it can also add to driver fatigue. If you don’t have a car full of ornery co-pilots to keep you awake, consider the Drive Alert Master. This silver, battery-powered earpiece contains an adjustable sensor that monitors head drift. If your noggin falls too far forward, the $20 Alert Master will emit a loud beep to not-so-subtly wrench you back to your senses.

Go ahead, breathe easy

Image: Alcohawk Micro Digital Breath Alcohol Screener
Better to check your own blood-alcohol level with the Alcohawk Micro Screener than wait until the police do it for you.
Just as dumb as driving tired is driving drunk. The Alcohawk Micro Digital Breath Alcohol Screener, available from The Sharper Image, can help drivers determine if they’re too tipsy to get behind the wheel. Within five seconds of receiving a breath sample, the device will digitally display a driver’s estimated blood-alcohol concentration in increments from 0.00 percent to 0.12 percent. The $60 unit includes a leather case and detachable keychain and runs on one AAA battery.

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments