After packing up the flip-flops and the swimsuits, it’s time to pack up the car for your vacation. Stash the wipes and the ziplock bags, stow the extra cords and cables, grab a Leatherman tool and a roll of duct tape so your family vacay will proceed without a unfortunate pitstop on a nameless highway. Read on for what one writer recommends to pack in an emergency kit for your car.
What Should I Pack in an Emergency Kit for the Car?
Road trip season is upon us. And preparing your vehicle for the what-ifs is as important as what to wear. Having some basic gear for emergencies can be the difference between a slight delay and derailing a family vacation. It’s not the most fun part about vacation planning but preparing for a travel emergency will save you, just in case. Read on for what to pack in an emergency kit for the car.
Anti-Covid-19 Hygiene Items to Pack
- Masks (Many places still require visitors to wear masks in public, at the beach, in restaurants. We like these super cute masks from Etsy.)
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- CDC approved cleaning supplies (Or make your own bleach solution by mixing 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water.)
- Disposable plastic gloves (to wear if you have to go inside during a potty stop)
Read More: Car maintenance checklist to prepare the inside of your car for the road trip.
Basic Car Emergency Kit
Your car needs to be prepared for your trip, no matter the length or destination. And the most important thing to have is a well-maintained car with tires in good shape.
- Cell phone
- Inflated spare tire
- Working jack with all the parts
- Wheel lug if your tires require one
- Reflective Triangle
- Emergency Fix-a-Flat
- Jumper Cables
- Leatherman Tool
- 3M Duct Tape
- Vinyl-coated work gloves
- Quart of oil and funnel
- Car manual–What’s that mysterious dashboard light?
- Paper Maps or Atlas—Get free ones in a state’s welcome center.
First Aid Kit for Your Car
If you have kids, like I do, you know how quickly they can get hurt. Even a simple trip to the playground can have you digging in your car for a jumbo Band-aid for a skinned knee.
You can buy a complete first aid kit or make your own.
- Assorted Band-aids
- Antiseptic Wipes
- Sterile 3×4 bandages—for larger scrapes, like knees and elbows
- Medical tape
- Benadryl Anti-Inch Cream
- Allergy medication, like Benadryl liquid
- Advil pain reliever, in Adult and Junior dosage
- Hand sanitizer
- Pepto-Bismol tablets
- Blistex medicated lip cream
- Cold Compress
- Eye wash
- Baby faces sunscreen
- Family insect repellent
- Extra required medication
Winter Weather Car Kit
Winter driving requires its own emergency equipment for cold weather.
- Emergency reflective blankets–in case you get stranded when a road closes.
- Ice scraper with a brush, add an extra for the kids to help
- Microfiber towel–Wipe down mirrors or inside windows.
- Can of de-icer
- State Road Condition App loaded on phone—Keep up to date with changing road conditions.
- Tire Chains or Cables—Along with some cash to pay a roadside installer.
- Multipurpose tool
- Waterproof gloves–Slip these over your other gloves when de-icing or removing snow.
- Small shovel for digging out car
- Cat litter or sand—Helps give your tires some traction
- Hand warmers
- Kind Bars or your favorite high-energy snack
What to Keep in Your Glove Compartment
Keep important documents and gear close at hand, especially in case of emergency.
- Copy of driver’s license, car insurance card and vehicle registration.
- Roadside assistance card, like AAA
- Car manual
- Car maintenance log
- Tire pressure gauge
- Window breaker and seat belt cutter
- Waterproof matches or lighter
- Extra phone charging cable
Keeping it Close in the Console
Another place close at hand to store essentials.
- Travel-sized Kleenex
- Baby wipes
- Clorox Wipes
- Ziploc bags–Got a kid that gets car sick?
- Paper towels or napkins
- Extra Cash–including change for old-school parking meters.
- Extra Sunglasses
- List of relative’s phone numbers—Just in case your phone goes missing.
- Notepad and pen or pencil–Hand this to a bored toddler.
What’s in your Trunk
Pull together a crate or a reusable shopping bag for a roadside emergency kit.
- Fire extinguisher
- Road flares
- Towel or Blanket–For drying off a kid or rescuing an animal.
- Extra cords and cell phone charger (The most forgotten items ever)
- Disposable rain ponchos ($tore must)
- Extra pair of keys
- Extra pair of shoes, just in case you bust out a flip-flop
A Stash of Mom Essentials
I basically live and work out in my car.
- Basic make-up like mascara, powder and lip gloss. (I’ve left the house forgetting to put on make-up.)
- Deodorant (I have forgotten to do this more than once.)
- Extra pair of underwear
- Feminine products
- Travel roll of toilet paper (roadside or park restrooms frequently run out of TP)
- Travel toothbrush and paste
- Dental floss or pics
- Contact holder and contact solution
Don’t be stranded on the highway without a stash of snacks. For road trip snacks head over to the road trip snack list.
- Gallon of water, more if you’re road tripping
- Kind bars, or other high protein bars
- Dried fruit
- Dried nuts
Basics for Traveling with Kids
After traveling with three kids I know one thing for sure, kids are messy. So be prepared for the inevitable.
- Extra clothes including socks and underwear
- Knit hat for winter weather
- Sun hat or baseball hat for sunny weather
- Extra jacket or hoodie
- Extra gloves ($tore find)
Essentials for Traveling with Babies
Sweet babies need their own supplies and I always changed my babies in my SUV instead of public changing tables.
- Formula and extra bottles
- Baby food
- Clorox Wipes
- Changing pad
- Disposable grocery bags for dirty items
- Extra outfit, including socks and shoes
- Extra soothing object, like a lovey or a pacifier
Supplies for Your Pets
If you enjoy traveling with your pets, then pack a few items for them.
- Pet food
- Collapsible pet food bowls
- Chewy or Treats
Keeping it Clean
Need a mid-week pick-me-up then take the family car through the car wash. Spend a couple extra minutes by vacuuming and wiping it down.
Read More: Vehicle Checklist — What to Do BEFORE the Road Trip
Roadside Assistance to the Rescue
Do you have roadside assistance membership? Why not? As a member of AAA for years, it pays for itself with discounts and actual roadside assistance.
- Flat services
- Fuel delivery
- Battery services
Actually my husband uses the roadside assistance more than me. He got a flat tire while wearing expensive dress pants, AAA to the rescue. Then he bought a new battery from the technician.
If your family spends a lot of time commuting in your vehicles then it usually pays for itself. And for family travelers, the discount is nice, usually comparable to the AARP discount.
Top Names in Roadside Assistance in the U.S.
AAA—It’s the biggest and most recognizable name in roadside assistance.
Allstate–Don’t have to have an insurance policy with Allstate to buy its roadside assistance.
AARP—Must be a member of AARP and a minimum of 50-years-old.
Manufacturer’s Roadside Assistance
If you are the first owner of a new car then most manufacturers offer roadside assistance for the first few years. Head to your glove compartment and open up your manual for more information about your vehicle’s roadside assistance or head to its website. Though most manufacturer’s contract out the actual roadside service to another provider.
Subscription Based Vehicular Communications Systems
Get peace of mind with a live agent on the other end. If your vehicle deploys its air bags, an agent will dispatch emergency services based on your vehicle’s GPS.
For owners of General Motors vehicles, like Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac, Onstar is a subscription-based vehicular communications system.
For a monthly service charge, Onstar provides vehicle security, emergency services, hands-free calling, navigation and remote diagnostics.
Though GM isn’t the only manufacturer offer this product.
Ford offers a similar service with emergency 911 assist calls along with traffic information and directions. Find it on Lincoln vehicles as well with a concierge subscription-based service, the Lincoln Way App.
With a smart phone application, manage your vehicle from anywhere. And the subscription-based concierge services offers a live agent to dispatch emergency services as well as other services.
The cell phone provider offers a similar subscription service to anyone. Get a live agent for roadside assistance along with a collision detector.
And navigation services aren’t offered though a standard smart phone will preform this function for free.