10 Essentials to Bring on a Road Trip


I love long road trips. Though a glance out my window today still shows Spring in the Rockies, a mix of rain and light snow, or, “snizzle”,  it’s not too soon to plan for summer travel.   And, like most of us,  when I feel safe, I feel happy.  Here are ten of my auto essentials:
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License in my wallet, and Insurance Card and Registration stored together in a sleeve in the glovebox (say, red vinyl?) keeps access quick and hassle free. Keep your auto manual in there, too. Know what roadside assistance is offered by your insurance, if any. If not, consider joining  AAA  (www.aaa.com).  Annual membership is less than $100  and their services are well worth it. If you join, keep that card in your wallet. Membership gives you loads of extra discounts, at restaurants, hotels, etc.
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2-First Aid Kit

Apart from antiseptic and bandages for the unlikely skinned knee, or aloe for a bad sunburn, this is a great place to store backup emergency medications. Allergic to bees? Pollen? Epi-pens, benadryl, along with migraine meds could truly save a life.

3-Coolant, (antifreeze), Oil and Windshield Washer fluid

You didn’t plan an oil leak or overheating the engine, or a summer squall that left your windshield coated in God-knows-what truck backsplash, but here you are in the middle of the Badlands, miles from a gas station. Luckily, you can pull over and deal with this minor emergency. Consult your manual if you’re unsure which fluid goes where, and let the car cool if it’s overheated.

4-Auto tool kit, tire inflation cannister, jumper cables

Know how to use a tire pressure gauge and keep one in the glovebox. Know where your spare tire is located, and how to assemble your jack even if your tires aren’t sketchy and low tread. And/or, keep a cannister of a quick inflation product in the trunk, alongside jumper cables. For less than $100 you can get a lithium ion battery charger with cables attached. Some models also charge cell phones and laptops. Be sure it has a charge on it when you depart.
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5-Flares,flashlight and a candle in a coffee can

Daytime or evening, if you have a roadside emergency you don’t want things to get worse, so carry the equipment to warn others and maybe you’ll even summon a Good Samaritan. Flares are now available in LED design. Your flashlight should be able to be free-standing, with fresh batteries, and the candle in the coffee can is just for you…inside the car, overnight, windows cracked, to give light…….and hope.

6-Juice Pack for your mobile devices

Absent a working car charger, and with a full charge itself, today’s portable battery options are ideal solutions to the loss of mobile power on the road.
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7-Water, food and a blanket

We can survive a lot longer without food than without water. That said, a gallon of drinking water and handful of  your favorite protein bars, are portable enough to keep you fueled should you become stranded, or, suffer from low blood sugar issues.  Bring a blanket that’s warm enough to insulate through a cold night when your engine’s  likely shut off.

8-Toilet Paper, paper towels

We ingest, we spill….we need to mop up…. we relieve ourselves…and there may not be a handy bathroom…enough said.

9-Cash and credit cards

Believe it or not, that pasky item called “cash” is necessary to carry. Along with at least 2 credit cards, since different locations, especially the more remote you plan to travel, accept different methods of payment. Keep these in your wallet where your license is also a useful form of extra identification.


Primitive as it seems, a current road atlas or, at the very least, fold-up glove-box sized map of your trip can save you time, gas and peace of mind when GPS grows mute or, disoriented. AAA membership can provide excellent maps and tour guides, too.

Odds are you’ll need few if any, emergency supplies, but your trip will be so much more pleasant with that one extra benefit…peace of mind. Happy Trails!

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