Traveling by car is fun. There's a sense of adventure, the wind in your hair, and the endless possibilities that come with the open road. However, nothing puts a damper on your travels quite like an unexpected delay. Even worse, a delay where you are stuck because of an accident, weather conditions, or mechanical problems.
Thankfully, there are ways that you can prepare for any misfortune that you might happen across while driving. In fact, it's actually really easy to prepare for any issue during any season, from summer storms to winter ice. All you need is a large backpack (or an old suitcase) and some items that you probably already have lying around your house, or that are easily found at local home goods or hardware stores.
Hopefully you'll never have to make use of this emergency kit, but having it in the car at all times could make the world of difference. You could also use the items to help someone else in need, too.
Below are listed ten items that you need to have in your car's emergency kit. The best thing about this is that it can stay in your car all year round, and there will always be something present to help you out of a pickle.
If your car happens to break down, you might need to walk to a nearby house or gas station. Therefore, it's important that you always have a backpack in your car. Any old backpack will do the trick, but make sure it's large enough for all the things you'll be putting into it.
2. Warm Clothing
Regardless of the time of the year, keeping some extra layers on hand is a good idea. Look for hats and scarves that are lightweight and warm, and gloves that'll allow you to move your hands freely. If you have a family, make sure to get enough items for everyone.
3. Light Sources
If you get stranded and it's dark, you'll need a way to see. Matches and candles are a great idea and don't need power, but be careful when using them around a car. A flashlight is also a must-have tool. If your flashlight is battery-powered, be sure to stock some extra batteries. Alternatively, you can opt for a hand-powered flashlight that uses the energy from your hands' motion to stay lit, meaning it will never run out of juice.
5. Food and Water
Depending on how long you are stuck for, you'll need to keep your energy up. Non-perishable snacks like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit in sealed containers are some great choices. Just make sure to use unopened foods and wrap them in plastic to hide the smell from any critters. You'll also need to stay hydrated, so some bottles of water are a great thing to have.
6. Car Supplies and Tools
If you ever need to dig out your tires, a mini shovel is a great item to have in your trunk. Your car will likely have its own spare tire and jack, but having a small toolkit with some basic tools like a hammer, screwdriver, and wrench is also a very good idea. Jumper cables, tape, and extra motor oil are some other good things to pack away in your trunk. Another lifesaving item to keep close by, specifically in reach of the driver's seat, is an emergency escape tool, which can break windows and cut through seat belts.
7. Heat Sources
In addition to scarves and glove, it's a very good idea to pack some items that'll help you keep dry and warm. Emergency thermal blankets and hand warmers are a great way to keep warm - and both come in small packaging, so they don't take up much room. If you need to go outside in wet weather, a plastic rain poncho is also something good to have in your trunk.
To call for help, your first step will probably be reaching for your cell phone - so it's vital that you keep your battery full with a car charger. While you're waiting for help, you'll need to stay visible on the side of the road. Use road flares outside the car and use an LED light inside. If you need to leave your car, be sure to have a high-visibility vest so oncoming traffic will see you. However, it's best to stay in the car until help arrives.
9. Relaxation Tools
Sometimes, all you can do is wait, and we all know how boring waiting can get. When the minutes start to add up, you might also start to feel panicked. You can keep those feelings at bay and keep your spirits high with some entertainment - a good book is always a great choice. If you have children, keep some paper and pencils on hand to pass the time.
10. A Full Tank of Gas
Wherever you're traveling, no matter the distance, be sure to have gas in your tank. Not only is running on empty detrimental to your car, but it can be dangerous if you get lost while traveling through unfamiliar territories. Also, whenever you travel, make sure to tell people where you're going - and when you should be expected to arrive.