As the holiday season is approaching here in North America, it’s especially important to prepare for the unknown to happen when you’re out and about in town, getting away for the weekend or embarking on a long excursion with the family. If you normally live and drive in a city where it doesn’t snow often, then you likely won’t carry chains in your car at all times – This will be reserved for the special trips into the mountains. Although it’s always better to be safe than sorry, we’ve divided out what you can bring with you that might be helpful and tailored to your specific needs, to avoid going overkill and using up all your trunk space.
That said, here a list of some things you might find helpful on a road trip or your next adventure, depending on your course of roadworthy action.
Level 1 – The everyday commuter
For those daily commuters across the country, I’d be willing to bet that over 50% of drivers on the road are less than prepared for an unexpected vehicle failure. As we understand space can be an issue in your trunk, here are some simple things that may prove helpful to keep in your car at all times no matter what kind of driving you’re doing:
- Haynes Repair Manuals and Owner’s manual – This may already be included in your car, but can be more valuable than one would initially think (you might need to locate an obscure fuse)
- Tire pressure gauge – Invaluable whether your tire pressure light illuminates on the dash or not
- Jumper cables – You might need them to start you car, or be the hero that lends a helping hand. Just remember- Positive-to-positive (+) (+), and Negative-to-ground (-) (-) (connecting the negative-to-ground lead LAST on the car with the dead battery)!
- Portable jump starter – Who needs jumper cables when you have a lithium-ion portable battery jump starter, the size of your cell-phone, that can literally start your car!
- Flashlight – Always convenient – even if you have a cell phone light (it might not be charged)
- Multi-tool device – There are some pretty sophisticated ones on the market now that are a fraction of what they used to cost. James Bond would be appalled.
- Duct tape/zip ties – Useful for a variety of automotive or survival situations
- Paper towels or rags – An undeniable YES. Common for: checking your oil, accidents or bloody noses.
- Spare tire and roadside jack! – It’s easy to assume your car already has one included, but it’s good to check on this, and if everything is included. Also make sure your spare is properly inflated!
Level 2 – The weekend adventurer
For those of you who are fed up with your daily commute week after week, or maybe just want to get out of town for the weekend for no reason at all- Whatever the case may be, it’s a good idea to plan accordingly. Along with the items mentioned previously, here are some helpful things to bring with you while you’re away for the weekend that may even end up saving your life, directly or indirectly:
- First-aid kit – These have saved lives and relieved discomfort millions of times.
- Tire chains – For your mountain getaway or anywhere it snows.
- Roadside breakdown kit with reflective triangles – Even if you have a relatively new car that you’re sure won’t break down, you never know what could happen and to avoid making a breakdown worse by getting hit, these are strongly recommended and cheap, potentially life-saving insurance.
- Snow shovel and windshield de-icer/scraper – Pairs quite nicely with chains during Winter.
- Portable fan(s) – Useful for the summer months or for trips through Death Valley (one or the other, please don’t drive through Death Valley in the Summer).
Level 3 – The National Lampoon’s Multi-state Adventurist
If you’re the type to go on road trips longer than the average weekend adventure, you’ll again want to think about bringing more equipment to keep you safe and minimize your chances of getting stranded in a bad spot. Here are some more effective tools that might take up a bit more trunk space:
- A better first-aid kit – There are more extensive first-aid kits available online or at sporting goods stores that are a definite must, in my opinion, if you and especially the family are out on a long getaway.
- Emergency survival kit – Would recommend bringing one especially if you’re travelling during the Winter or Summer months. This may include a backpack full of dried food, shovels, heavy-duty flashlights, axes, rope and carabiners, mylar heat blankets and more for your worst-case scenario situations.
- Lots of water and non-perishable food – This speaks for itself. The longer the distance without gas stations in-between, it’s time to stock up!
- Mini air compressor and tire repair kit – This may seem like overkill, but in my opinion can also be kept in your car at all times along with a tire pressure gauge (that’s what I do). There has actually been more than one time when I’ve had to patch a tire with a worm patch on the side of the road. If you don’t already know how, look up the directions on how to patch a tire ahead of time before you’re in a place that doesn’t have cell service.
Hopefully this and the items mentioned here can better help you prepare for your next outing. Although it takes some time and planning to get this equipment together, in the long run you’ll be happy to have prepared for the worst. Even a small bit of planning can help you save yourself, and some items might be combined and used unconventionally if in a dire, life-saving situation (just ask MacGyver).
Safe and fun travels!