It doesn’t take long to conduct a quick inventory of what’s in your trunk and fill in the gaps with essential items you may be missing from this list.
We’ve made it as simple and easy as possible by categorizing these items into three lists: Maintenance, Emergency, and Convenience.
- Set of jumper cables. Your car battery could die unexpectedly, or you could need to help jump start someone else’s car at any time. For a simple explanation of how to use jumper cables, check out our next upcoming blog post, “How to Jump Start a Car.”
- Spare tire in good condition. A spare tire will do you no good if it’s flat, if the tread is low, or if you don’t have the proper tools to install it. Inspect your spare tire regularly and make sure the tire iron and jack are in their proper place. If you need a reminder, read our blog post about How to Change a Tire.
- Vehicle owner’s manual. Leave it somewhere you can access it quickly if you have any questions, like your center console or glove compartment.
- Insurance card, vehicle registration, and contact info for your auto body shop. In case of an accident or traffic violation, it’s required that you have your insurance card and vehicle registration with you. Also have the information for AAA if you’re a member and a way to get a hold of your repair shop for a tow. Your glove compartment is a good place to keep all of these documents.
- Tire pressure gauge. It’s best to prevent danger by checking the air in your tires often and refilling them when needed. Doing so will give you better handling as your drive, improved gas mileage, and will increase the life of your tires.
- Tire inflator and sealant. If your tire is damaged, these will temporarily clog a hole until you can make it to the shop to have it fixed.
- Water. Having an adequate supply of water is the highest priority when it comes to an emergency. You can’t survive for long without water, so keep several bottles in your car and replace what you drink.
- First aid kit. You can purchase a first aid kit or put one together on your own. Just make sure your bases are covered and it’s complete with everything you’ll need.
- Adequate food supply. The key here is to pack nutrient dense power foods, like protein or energy bars. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are also good options. You’ll need water to prepare them so account for that in your water supply.
- Map. Don’t be too reliant on your GPS! You could be stuck in a spot with no power or no service, so carry a paper map with you just in case.
- Flashlight. This is pretty self explanatory. Just make sure the batteries are charged!
- Means of communication. Mentally prepare to be out of cell phone range or away from a power source in an emergency. Walkie talkies or a radio are essential to have an hand. Purchase solar powered models if possible.
- Tools. A multitool or even a small tool kit are great options that don’t take up much room.
- Fire source. You could need to start a fire for warmth or light when stranded. Keep a lighter or matches with you at all times.
- Seat belt cutter and window breaker. If you or someone else is trapped inside a vehicle, these will help you break free and get to safety. Keep them near your front seat, like in the center console or glove compartment.
- Reflectors. Flares will help you signal for help and reflective vests will keep you visible to other cars.
- Ice scraper. This is a basic necessity to maintain a clear view out of your windshield when there’s snow and ice.
- Blanket. A mylar space blanket will keep you warm in extreme cold, but a regular blanket will also do.
- Toilet paper. You never know when you’ll have to take a bathroom break out in nature, or when your allergy sniffles could strike! Toilet paper is a great staple to have in your car just in case.
- Source of mobile power. You don’t want to be stuck with no way to charge your cell phone or other devices. There are various models of mobile power sources to help you in these types of situations. We suggest investing in one that is solar powered.
- A clean change of clothes. Your clothes could get dirty or wet, and having a clean, dry set to change into will make all the difference when it comes to your comfort.
- Cash. Don’t be too reliant on credit or debit cards. Keep enough cash on hand that you could use to get to your destination without anything electronic.
- A pen and paper. We all have the tendency to think, “I don’t need an old school pen and paper! I’ll just record important info in my phone.” But again, (are you catching the theme here?) don’t be too reliant on electronics! And hey, even if you don’t need to write anything down in an emergency, a pen and paper can make for some fun doodling on a long road trip!
- Umbrella. You know, in case of a rainy day. (Get it?)
- Towels. You can stock up on bath towels or paper towels, whichever you prefer. You could need them to clean up messes or to dry off.
Hopefully you’ve learned today that preparing for an emergency can actually be fun! Also, don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of items on this list. You probably have many of them in your car already or lying around your house somewhere. If an unexpected situation occurs, which is likely, you’ll be glad you took the time to pack these 25 go-to items for your car!