I’m a warm weather gal, but these 14 items are still crucial for your winter travel emergency kit.
After all, you never know when freezing weather will strike!
I live in South Texas so snowy, icy roads are something I see on TV or hear my friends in Northern states talk about. Every time I know I’m going to need to drive in colder climates, I take extra measures to prepare. If you’re traveling to a cold weather climate this winter—or if you’ve recently moved to a location where people don’t consider 65 degrees Fahrenheit chilly winter weather—these tips on what to put in your winter emergency kit for travel are especially for you.
And it’s also handy for any cold weather veteran who needs a refresher on what needs to go into the car when the mercury starts dropping. This is a great time of year to take stock of what you need to put in your car to tide you through the colder months. Whether you’re going on a road trip or just driving across your city when it’s snowing, you just never know what’s going to happen.
This list of 14 things that need to go in your emergency kit for winter travel will help keep you safe and cover all your bases.
Blankets will come in handy if your car breaks down and you have to wait for help in the cold. It will get cold fast if you can’t turn on your car’s heater. This is a great reason not to toss or donate your old bed linens when you redecorate.
You don’t need designer or coordinated blankets for car blankets. Just roll them up, stick them in, and make sure you’ll be cozy!
2. Extra Outerwear – Coats, gloves, mittens, and hats
Winter weather can be unpredictable. If you find yourself stranded and you’re not dressed properly (i.e. evening wear), you’ll appreciate being able to grab extra outer garments if you need them. I also recommend you have a pair of galoshes or other sturdy footwear for this same reason.
I have a bag of winter clothes in my car for myself and anyone who frequently rides along with me. Coats, hats, gloves, boots, wool socks—even snow pants if you live in an extra-blustery area.
3. Flashlight + Extra Batteries
Darkness comes earlier in winter. If you run into car trouble, you can use your flashlight to troubleshoot in low light. You can also use your flashlight to signal for help. While there are some flashlights designed for all those purposes, any old light you have laying around will do.
Don’t forget to check your batteries periodically and replace as needed. Keep some spares in your purse, since cold batteries are used up faster than warm ones.
4. First Aid Kit
You can purchase a prepared first aid kit or assemble your own. Make sure you have bandages, medical tape, antiseptic, scissors, disposable gloves, and tweezers. And, you need a first aid kit in your car all year around. If you don’t have one now is the time to get one. If you do have one, this is a great time to check things over and make sure you’re well stocked.
For specific winter purposes, think about investing in a mylar emergency blanket; air-activated hand, foot, and body warmers; waterproof matches; and an instruction manual on how to handle emergencies like hypothermia, frostbite, and snow blindness.
5. Bottled Water and Non-perishable Food
If you’re stuck somewhere and have to wait for assistance, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to stay nourished and hydrated. Granola bars, protein bars, and packages of nuts or trail mix all make great, high-protein choices.
If you are a parent or routinely travel with kids in the winters, throw in some extra, kid-friendly snacks. Most kids like fruit gummies or Goldfish Crackers. Stock up. No one wants to be stranded, but being stranded with hangry kids is the worst.
6. Speaking of Small Humans
If you have kids, make sure to stock your car with whatever is going to keep them comfortable in the event you’re stranded or stuck in the snow. What you need will vary based on your kids’ ages. You’ll need extra diapers and wipes for babies and for older kids, and you’ll want to make sure you have enough battery power and charging cables to keep their devices going.
7. Road Flares or Reflective Triangle
Snow can reduce visibility, even during daylight hours. If you have to pull over, a reflector or flares can help you be seen and keep you safe. Having a reflective vest can also be a smart idea for anyone working on the car during snowy conditions.
8. Jumper Cables
Cold weather can affect your battery. If you can’t start your car, you won’t be able to use the heater to stay warm. Not everyone who offers to render help is going to have jumper cables on them, so make sure you have them to expedite getting back on the road again. There are also self-starting jumper cables connected to high-powered batteries that are worth looking into for just these kinds of emergencies.
9. Phone Charger and Extra Power Supply
If you’re like me, you rely on your car’s power to keep your phone charged. I always have a cable in my car and this is a good habit to get into. It’s also handy to have an extra, charged power supply. If your car won’t run you don’t want to have a dead phone on top of that.
10. Cat Litter
This can help your tires gain traction if you get stuck in the snow. Rock salt or sand can work here, too.
11. Snow Shovel
If you’re pulled over during a snow storm, you will need a shovel to keep your car visible to rescue teams. Make sure to keep your exhaust pipe and the area around your tail lights clear. Some snow shovels can be deconstructed or collapsed for easy storage.
12. Ice Scraper/Snow Brush
Even people who live where there’s mild winter weather will experience frost or ice on their windshields in the morning.
If you’re trying to get into your car during a deep freeze or an emergency, you won’t want to waste time—or your battery—waiting to defrost your windshield. Invest in a good scraper and brush and you won’t mangle your credit card by using it as a makeshift scraper.
13. Extra Windshield Washer Fluid
Be sure your washer fluid has antifreeze components to prevent freezing, and make sure you keep your windshield clean.
Check the ratings on windshield washer fluid, too. Some winter fluids aren’t rated for extreme temperatures. If your area is prone to those dangerous cold snaps, make sure you’re ready for it.
14. Sunglasses – Not just for summer
The sun’s reflection on the snow can be extra bright and cause painful glare. They’re less fashion and more function in the winter, so keep those sunnies in your console during the winter months, too!