Top 10 List of Summer Travel Accessories

Load up the gear for this summer’s road trips and getaways. Just make sure you bring the important stuff with you.

Here’s a helpful checklist of what you need for summer road trips.

An electric cooler--fully stocked with snacks and refreshments.

“Electric coolers aren’t only for long-haul truck drivers who want to avoid eating fast food,” said Sneha Kulkarni, director of public relations for Koolatron, an Ontario-based company that has manufactured thermoelectric coolers since 1983.

“Demand continues to grow as families embrace day trips, staycations, camping and road trips.” Officially known as thermoelectric coolers, these portable devices don’t contain refrigerant; instead, they draw in surrounding air and push it through an electric fan.

Polarized sunglasses.

“Sunglasses are so important people tend to include them in their mental checklist with wallet and cellphone before they leave the house,” said Bill Yerby, director of sales and marketing for Serengeti Eyewear. “While glare is the biggest issue, eye strain caused by harsh light and squinting presents a real and pervasive hazard for drivers.”

Lenses are made of glass, plastic or composites. Glass lenses provide the best visual clarity, Yerby said. Color affects visibility as well. Yerby suggested amber-tinted shades for driving.

“Amber is the best compromise because it is dark enough for protection in bright sunlight but light enough to still perform in the shade.”

Stainless steel water bottle.

The days of your reusable water bottle sweating from condensation and melting the ice are over. Insulated water bottles continue to gain a foothold in the market as hikers look for a cold drink after a long trek.

“Insulated flasks can retain heat for 12 hours and keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours,” said David Visnack, vice president of marketing and product for Hydro Flask, a company that’s manufactured stainless steel containers since 2009.

Portable vacuum.

Stashing a portable vacuum in the family car provides an on-board convenience, especially when the device is specifically designed for the cabin.

“Small, lightweight devices make cleaning less of a chore,” said Sarah Windham public relations manager at Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., which produces four styles of handheld vacuums.

Cargo boxes, racks, baskets and bags for storage.

“Cargo boxes are great for camping, family vacations and especially for dog owners,” said John Bauer, founder of Rack N Road stores. “Dogs take up a lot of useable cargo space.”

Rooftop or rear-mounted cargo storage is available in various forms and sizes, and Bauer recommended choosing one sized for your car and the items you’ll be transporting.

Hard shell cargo boxes usually include a lock, giving you a second level of protection for your belongings. If you travel during an unexpected rainstorm, the hard shell keeps your gear safe and dry.

Fire extinguisher.

You may never encounter a fire emergency in your vehicle, but you probably will drive by someone else who does. Nearly 1,000 injuries and 300 deaths resulted from about 165,000 highway vehicle fires in 2013, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s most recent totals.

“It’s better to have a fire extinguisher than to need one and not have it,” said Chris Dieter, senior vice president for H3R Performance, Inc., a fire extinguisher manufacturer based in Petaluma, Calif.

Flares.

Flares are one of those handy accessories that can save your--or someone else’s life. You can lay them down near your car after a breakdown or accident, or use them to aid another driver in a similar situation. Flares burn for a predetermined time and are water-resistant. Flares establish a "safety zone" around disabled vehicles and their flickering lights alert drivers without disorienting them.

LED Flashlight.

Ever lost something between the driver’s seat and center console? An LED flashlight stashed in the glovebox keeps you from blindly fumbling around. Put one of these in the car and you’ll be amazed at how much you find yourself using it. LED models are longer lasting than traditional bulbs and provide better illumination.

Blanket.

Storing a blanket in the trunk gives you some protection if you ever break down in a cold area--or if you want to spread out on the grass during a concert. Should you take your pet for a ride, a blanket will protect the upholstery from fur and slobber.

Binoculars.

Binoculars are more precise and durable than ever, and that’s why they still warrant a spot in the glove compartment.

“I always have a pair of binoculars in my vehicle for impromptu wildlife watching. They can also be handy in some circumstances when there’s an incident of some sort off in the distance and you want to get a better idea of what’s going on,” said Mike Capps, a media relations specialist for Bushnell Optics.