Video: Take A 5000-Photo, 3-Minute Road Trip Across The USA

One of the great travel experiences of all time is the good old-fashioned road trip. There really is nothing like hitting the road with friends with no particular schedule or agenda. The video below captures that feeling oh so well, using more than 5000 photos to sum up a cross-country journey in a little more than three minutes.

The video, which is entitled “Roadtrip USA,” was shot by Mike Matas who recently spent two weeks driving 3000 miles from San Francisco to New York City with his girlfriend. Their entire journey plays out here and while the images are at times oddly disjointed, anyone who has ever taken a long road trip will be able to relate to the feeling it conveys. Also, you’ll probably be tempted to pause the video on more than one occasion just so you can get a better look around, as you’re sure to recognize more than one or two of the locations on display.

So, sit back, enjoy the ride and prepare to drive across the U.S. in just three minutes of time.


Roadtrip USA” from Mike Matas on Vimeo.

Lonely Planet dishes out summer travel tips and chance at a Napa Valley trip

Summer is fast approaching and sure to fly by even more quickly than it came. To help Americans get the most out of the summer months, Lonely Planet has launched a special micro-site called “Weekends of Summer” that has 15 free guides for all the weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The guides reads like a summer to-do list, with suggestions like “pop a cork” and “explore the great outdoors” for each weekend, and then details on where to complete the mission with via a mini-guide. Although it would be great to escape to the Gulf Coast one weekend and then go hunt lobsters in Maine the next, the best thing most of us can do is take Lonely Planet’s advice on summertime diversions and try to complete as many as possible.

Of course, perhaps even more exciting than the actual guides is the fact that Lonely Planet and the Napa Valley Destination Council have teamed up to give one lucky reader a trip to wine country valued at over $4,000. Simply surrender your name and email to be entered in the contest and have access to all 15 of the guides for free.

[Image courtesy Lonely Planet]

More road trip gadgets – technology to help prevent traffic tickets

Here at Gadling, we don’t condone, recommend or suggest speeding – in fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us sticks to the speed limit at least 25% of the time.

So, if you find yourself on a long road trip, and begin to wonder whether the speed limit signs are the law, or merely a recommendation, then you can put technology to work staying safe from tickets.

Nowadays, there are several ways to be caught – the first is of course the old fashioned cop pulling up behind you with lights and siren. Sadly these cops now get help from red light cameras and combined red light/speed cameras.

Thankfully, the US is not as bad as Europe, where cops hide speed cameras in trash cans, trailers or on a tiny tripod in the shoulder.

In this article, you’ll learn about three technologies that could help save some money, especially if you have a bit of a lead foot.

And while I have your attention – don’t forget to check out our lineup of other cool road trip gadgets, and to enter our awesome “Perfect Road Trip” contest where you have a chance at winning an all expenses paid road trip in a new Cadillac SRX.


Trapster

Trapster is like social networking for speed traps. The Trapster network allows members to receive and report locations of speed traps. Of course, the service takes full advantage of mobile technology by offering access to their database on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android powered devices, as well as Java compatible phones.

The database can even be installed on TomTom and Garmin GPS units, and you can select your own custom coverage area for loading on your device.

Price: free
Where: www.trapster.com


Escort 9500ix radar detector

The Escort 9500ix takes radar detection to a whole new level. By combining a “regular” radar detector with a GPS receiver and PC upgradeable database, this $499 unit warns of cops with radar or laser, as well as known locations of red light/speed cameras and you can even mark “hot” and “false” spots, which means you won’t get annoying alerts when you pass the automatic doors of the local drugstore.

Before you consider purchasing a radar detector, be sure to read up on your local and state laws, and check whether your insurance company allows them to be used in your car.

Price: $499.95
Where: www.escortradar.com



GPS red light database

Got GPS in your car? If your GPS model allows for user-added point-of-interest databases, then you can often add a list of known red light cameras. Many models allow for warning signals when you get close to some categories, which means you’ll be warned in time to slow down.

In most cases you can just “drag and drop” the speed camera file to your GPS unit, some brands may require a free “POI loader”.

From: Various Internet sites (like GPS-data-team, POI Factory)
Price: Varies per site


10 gadgets to make your road trip more enjoyable

ROAD TRIP! It doesn’t matter whether the economy is making you pick the car over the plane, or that you just really like driving through this wonderful country – everyone needs some time away from home, and taking the car is a fantastic way to see more than you can from 35,000 feet.

Of course, a lineup of awesome road trip gadgets is perfectly timed for the Gadling Perfect Road Trip contest, so read through these ten products, then use them as some inspiration for the contest!



BlueAnt S1 carkit

Each month, a new state, county or city adds their name to the list of places you are not allowed to drive without a hands free device, carkit or headset. The fines for being caught on the phone when not permitted can be as high as $250.

One of the newest hands free devices on the market is the BlueAnt S1 Bluetooth carkit. This compact unit clips to your sun visor, and uses a rechargeable battery to provide up to 15 hours of talk time, or a whopping 800 hours of standby time.

One added advantage of the unit is its ability to play music off your phone, making it perfect for a rental car, or even as a portable speaker in your hotel room.

PRO’S: Good quality audio in phone calls, supports stereo audio.
CON’S: Does not come with a car charger cord, Stereo audio sounds “tinny”.

Price: $79.99
Where: myblueant.com


HiGear TravelRest pillow

The TravelRest pillow is an extremely clever travel pillow. It takes a little time to install, and involves inflating the pillow, wrapping a cord around the headrest (or the back of your seat if on a plane), then attaching it to the bottom of your seatbelt.

Once installed, the TravelRest is actually very, very comfortable and the first pillow that really seems like it would be able to let me sleep through a long car (or plane) ride.

When you are done with the pillow, you simply let the air out, and roll it up.

PRO’S: Very comfortable, folds up nice and small
CON’S: Takes a little practice to install

Price: $26.95
Where: travelrest.net


Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset

The Plantronics Voyager Pro is one of the larger headsets on the market, but inside its fairly bulky exterior sits the electronics required to make the best headset ever developed. The Voyager Pro finally makes it possible to speak on a Bluetooth headset without having to yell, or explain to the person on the other end of the line that you are in fact, not talking to them from inside an oil barrel.

When you talk at a whispering level, the other end of your call will be able to clearly hear you, and virtually all outside noise is eliminated. Even when you make a call on a train, or in a car with the windows down, the Voyager Pro manages to make the call sound as clear as it would from in a quiet room.

PRO’S: Amazing sound quality, charges using MicroUSB
CON’S: Does not come with a carrying case, price is steep

Price: 99.99
Where: plantronics.com


Kensington Auto/Air power inverter with USB

The new Kensington Auto/Air power inverter with USB is one of the smallest power inverters on the market. This tiny device turns regular DC power into 120 watts of AC power. In addition to this, its 2 USB ports allow you to charge any USB capable gadget.

The unit even features an “EmPower” plug, which is found on some airlines. Having access to DC and EmPower means you’ll be able to charge and/or power your laptop, phone or other device in a car or a plane.

PRO’S: AC and USB in one device, very small, integrated fan for cooling, powers off car and plane outlets.
CON’S: Power limited to 120 Watts (150 for brief periods), no carrying case

Price: $69.95
Where: kensington.com




Garmin Nuvi 855T

When it comes to finding the best directions from A to B, you have many choices.

However, you need those directions and the latest fuel prices, news, weather, traffic information, a handsfree carkit and the ability to send addresses from your PC to your car, then you’ll need the new Garmin Nuvi 855T.

This top of the line GPS unit offers a huge lineup of features, including a very impressive voice recognition system and steering wheel mounted remote control.

PRO’S: Best routing of any GPS unit I have ever tested, huge array of features
CON’S: Pricey, paid subscription required for wireless (MSN Direct) services

Price: $499.99
Where: garmin.com




XM2Go Satellite Radio
receiver

Satellite radio is the perfect entertainment gadget for people who just want to sit back and enjoy the ride. Unlike AM and FM radio, satellite radio doesn’t suffer from having to find a new frequency every 50 miles. You pick the station you like, and it’ll follow you from coast to coast.

Sirius/XM (they are one company now) offers something for everyone in their lineup – from sports to kids radio, there is always bound to be something that will keep most people in the car entertained.

Satellite radio units display the track you are listening to, and some units can even be taken out of your car so you can continue to listen to the radio at the airport or in your hotel room. The XM2Go radio (pictured above) can even record live radio from multiple channels allowing you to listen to your favorite channels when you are far from Satellite coverage (like on a plane, or outside North America).

PRO’S: No more searching for radio stations, easy to install, affordable radio receivers
CON
‘S
: Monthly fee for content

Price: From $40 + monthly service
Where: www.xmradio.com / www.sirius.com




Autonet Mobile

This product takes “geeky” to a whole new level. Imagine always having access to the Internet, through a wireless router installed in your car. That is what Autonet Mobile has to offer. Available as a factory installed option on select Chrysler and VW vehicles, this device offers wireless access to a 3G broadband network for any passengers in the car.

The product is also available as an aftermarket accessory for $399.99. Service starts at just $29.95 per month.

PRO’S: Speedy access anywhere within coverage of the nations largest 3G network
CON’S: Pricey compared to other mobile broadband options, annoying login procedure

Price: $399.99 + installation + monthly service
Where: www.autonetmobile.com


Potette Plus portable potty

Bet you didn’t expect to find a portable potty in this button-heavy lineup? The Potette Plus is a “must have” for anyone traveling with small kids. This $16 portable toilet can be used as a regular porta-potty (by using disposable bags) or as a seat for on a regular toilet, so your little one doesn’t fall into the bowl. Its legs fold flat making it easy to bring along, and a carrying bag is included.

Bags for the Potette Plus are $5 per 15, but the biggest advantage is being able to tie a bag shut instead of driving around with a potty full of poop, or having to dump the potty on the side of the road and try to get it clean.

PRO’S: Never having to worry about finding a roadside rest stop for kids potty breaks, bags reduce smell
CON’S: Pricey refill bags

Price: $16 + $5 for disposable bags
Where: Potette.com


Google Latitude

Google Latitude is the only software product in this lineup – but it does something so cool that it really deserves a spot in the list. With Google Latitude, you can share your current location with anyone in the world. Of course, you get to pick who is allowed to see where you are.

Once setup, your mobile phone relays back to Google where you are driving, and those people unlucky enough to be left back home can log in to Google maps online or on their phone, and check your progress.

PRO’S: Family and friends can check your progress, see where you are
CON’S: Family and friends can check your progress, see where you are

Price: Free – requires a compatible smart(phone)
Where: Google Latitude



Wagan Power Dome

If your road trip takes you to places where the signs read “next gas station 200 miles”, then you’ll of course already know that it is important to take some basic precautions. You’ll pack drinks and snacks.

One product you may also want to consider is the Wagan Power Dome. This portable power pack combines a battery booster, DC and AC power ports, USB charger ports an AM/FM radio and a 260PSI compressor.

The unit has enough juice to actually start your car, which is mighty handy if you left it outside your hotel room with the lights on all night.

PRO’S: Never have to find someone to help give you a boost
CON’S:
Heavy, takes several hours to recharge

Price: $119
Where: Auto stores, Amazon.com and Wagan.com


Gadling Giveaway: Road Trip USA





Gadling is teaming up with Avalon Travel to bring you a great giveaway! A few days ago, I reviewed Road Trip USA, Avalon’s latest guidebook written by road trip extraordinaire Jamie Jensen, who also was gracious enough to answer a few questions and Talk Travel with me. Believe me when I tell you: this is the Road Trip bible – 900 pages of travel tips and fun facts that cover the 48 contiguous states and even a little bit of Canada.

Now, you can win a free copy of Jamie Jensen’s brand new Road Trip USA guidebook by leaving a comment in the bottom of this post by Friday, April 24, 2009 @ 5 p.m. EST. Your comment must provide a description of a place in the continental U.S. that you believe people need to see before they die. Please specify the city (if possible) and state where we can find this place. This comment shouldn’t be longer than five sentences, please.

Three winners will be picked randomly. The first winner will receive his/her very own copy of Road Trip USA, and two others will receive one of Jamie’s regional guides to either the Pacific Coast Highway or Route 66.

  • The comment must be left before Friday, April 24 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Road Trip USA is valued at $29.95. The regional guide books are valued at $9.95. (Sorry, but you don’t get to choose which of the regional guidebooks you receive.)
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • It’s that simple!

    Just so you get the idea, here’s my destination of choice. But don’t worry: I already have my copy. Now go and win yours.

    Brenda’s “entry”: Growing up in Hawaii, I didn’t understand the nation’s fascination with baseball. Why are grown men wearing tight pants and running around three bases? I didn’t get it because I’d never been to a baseball game and the most quintessential ballpark I have to say is Fenway in Boston, Massachusetts. From the Pesky Pole and the Green Monster to Yawkey Way and Landsdown Street, Fenway’s got it all. Plus going to a game at Fenway is absolutely electric.

    Look for a follow-up post and announcement on Gadling late next week!