It’s easy to take our cars for granted. But without them, we would be grounded at home. Our cars offer us the opportunity to take a weekend trip, to visit that seaside park, to stop at the KOA, and to travel comfortably through the wind and rain.
Our cars symbolize adventure—whether we’re driving to our best friend’s house or traveling from coast to coast. No matter how far you’re going, be sure you have everything you need with this list of essentials. After all, a prepared traveler is one who is free to have fun.
Some healthy snacks
You may have gotten struck by the afternoon munchies, but you’re stuck in traffic. Or, maybe you find yourself on a wide-open stretch of Kansas highway where the closest exit is in 60 miles. No matter the situation, it always pays to have some healthy snacks in the car. Some of my favorite road trip snacks are nuts, cherries, cheese cubes, pretzels, protein bars, and apples.
A paper map
We are spoiled in this day and age of GPS systems and digital maps that make it nearly impossible to get lost. That’s all well and good—until you find yourself out in the boonies with no GPS connection. In these situations, a good, old-fashioned paper map can save the day.
A phone charger
When you’re on the road, having a working phone is always a good idea. Car chargers are cheap and can generally be bought at any gas station or highway rest stop. This way, you can make calls if you need to (which might come in handy if you need to call roadside assistance).
Blankets are wonderful to keep in the car. Use it to picnic in a park on a sunny day. Use it to stay warm while you sit around the campfire during car camping. Or, wrap it around your child when they fall asleep in the back seat. You’ll be glad for the extra bit of comfort.
You never know when you’re going to need to shed some light on the car engine or cook dinner at a campsite in fading light.
An ice scraper
There’s nothing worse than having to wait for your car windows to de-thaw when you’ve been caught without an ice scraper. Save yourself some time by keeping one of these in your trunk so the next snow storm doesn’t take you and your windshield by surprise.
People who keep jumper cables in their car are good at making friends and saving days. They’re great if you find yourself—or a friend—in a pickle.
Prevent squinting into the western sunset while on the open road. The sun never feels as harsh as when it’s bouncing off other cars and directly into your eyes.
For those impromptu car camping expeditions, for backcountry stargazing, and for living the ultimate adventure, be sure to stay stocked with a tent. Most tents fold into a bag the size of a camp chair, so they don’t take up too much trunk space.
A tool kit
With a tool kit comes a need to know how to use tools, so brush up on your car maintenance knowledge. You never know when you’ll have to change a tire or fix something in the engine bay.
We typically don’t think about sunscreen when we’re in the car, but believe it or not, you can get sunburnt while driving around. Keep a tube of sunscreen in the car for those extra sunny days that threaten to fry your skin.
How do you stay prepared while traveling? What items do you find most useful?