Dad might be driving but Mom needs to be prepared.
We all know who will be madder than a hornet on an August afternoon if the family gets stranded on the side of the highway. I’ve driven across North America, and I know how to pack a car, especially those car emergency kit must haves.
You know that feeling when pulling out of the driveway that you forgot something? Don’t get it on your next trip when you use this list for car emergency kit must haves.
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Car Emergency Kit Must-Haves
Keep on schedule and arrive to your destination safely. Keeping your car in good working order helps prevent roadside emergencies.
- Spare tire-some newer cars might not have one
- Jack–see if it’s complete before you need it.
- Tire gauge
- Tire inflator and sealer for emergency flat repair
- Lug key–If your car requires one.
- Car manual–What’s that mysterious light that just popped on your dash?
- Jumper cables
- Quart of oil + funnel
- Leatherman tool or minimum a flat head and Phillips head screw driver along with adjustable pliers
- Duct tape
- Paper Maps–Grab them for free at a state’s welcome center.
What’s in your Glove Compartment
Stock your glove compartment with items you need to keep within arms reach, in case of emergency.
- AAA membership card, or other travel insurance card
- Copies of Drivers license and car insurance card
- Car manual
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Window breaker and seat belt cutter
- Matches or lighter
- Car maintenance log
- Multi Purpose Tool, like Leatherman
- Tire Gauge
First Aid Supplies
Life with kids is unpredictable. Scapes and falls happen frequently so be prepared. I keep my first aid kit under the driver’s seat.
- Assorted bandages
- Antibiotic cream
- Anti-itch cream
- Anti-bacterial gel
- Pain reliever, adults and kids
- Allergy medication, like Benadryl
- Eye Wash
- Lip balm
- Extra required medication
Got a console compartment? Load it up with these essentials.
- Extra money, especially change for old-school parking meters.
- Extra napkins or paper towels
- Facial tissue
- Extra sunglasses
- Paper to write on
- List of phone numbers to friends or family. Just in case the phone goes missing.
In the Trunk or Back of SUV
Grab a tote and pull together more supplies.
- Old towel or blanket–never know when you have to rescue an animal.
- Extra cords and cube for technology. In addition to the ones in use.
- Extra pair of shoes, in case you break your flip-flops.
- Disposable rain ponchos
- Extra pair of keys.
I grab a small zip top bag and pack it with personal care products. Just in case I get stranded overnight unexpectedly.
- Extra pair of underwear
- Basic makeup, like mascara, powder and lipgloss
- Travel roll of toilet paper
- Bug spray
- Contact holder + contact solution
- Lady products
- Travel toothbrush + paste
- Dental floss or pics
Pack a few essentials for everyday. Add some road trip snacks when headed out for a family trip.
- Gallon jug of water, can be used for radiator too
- Protein bars
- Dried fruit bars
- Dried nuts
Read more: Tips for choosing road trip snacks.
Just For the Kids
Keeping kids clean is nearly impossible so be prepared.
- Extra outfits plus socks and underwear
- Extra jacket or hoodie
- Stroller for kids under 6
- Sun hat for warmer weather
- Beanie for cooler weather
- Extra gloves – cheap ones ok
Babies and Toddlers
When my kids were little, I used my SUV like a giant diaper bag. Keep these items stored where you change your baby in the car.
- Baby food and/or formula
- Baby wipes
- Extra diapers
- Changing Pad
- Bleach wipes
- Extra clothes including shoes and socks
- Disposable grocery bags for the dirties
- Extra soothing object, like a pacifier
- Extra toys
Keeping the Family Car Clean
We all know that kids are messy so take a few minutes to wash the car regularly. Kids can help too.
- Windex wipes
- Armoral wipes
- Microfiber cloths—Dry the outside and wipe down the inside.
Winter travel requires its own products if you live or travel in snow-prone areas.
- State Website App for road closures and chain requirements
- Ice scraper with brush
- Can of de-icer
- Chains or cables plus extra cash to have someone install them
- Emergency blanket for heat retention
- Extra food and water
- Rubber gloves to protect hands when installing chains or removing snow and ice
- Small packable shovel for snow removal
Read more: Tips for winterizing your car.
With all of this in your vehicle…you’ll be ready for anything!