No one wants to think about car issues when planning a road trip but they do happen. As Road Trip TravelingMom, I put thousands of miles on our family car each year and have learned (sometimes the hard way) what to take when enjoying the freedom of the open road. Think planning has to be difficult? Here’s five easy items to pack- just in case.
Let’s face the facts. Millions of families get the urge to head out on the open road each year. Sometimes we prepare months in advance; other times, we jump in the car on a whim and drive where the wind takes us.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m guilty of both and take pleasure in the planned jaunts as well as throwing a few items into a suitcase and heading out. If there’s anything I’ve learned on my dozens upon dozens of road trips is that expecting the unexpected is not only sound advice but my mantra.
Preparing in advance for any emergency situation will not only ease your mind, but may ease your pocketbook as well. I take comfort in knowing that with these five handy items packed in my car that my family will be prepared for nearly everything that may come our way.
1. Portable Car Battery Charger
When portable battery chargers first came on the market, the cost to purchase one could definitely put a hefty dent in your wallet. These days, compliments of a competitive market, the cost to purchase a portable car battery charger is quite affordable with prices starting around 50 dollars. Many chargers have built-in flashlights and tire gauges, making them multi-purpose and efficient. The general rule is to plug in and charge it once a month to both maintain and preserve the charge. With little effort and maintenance, it can be left in the trunk of the car. Just in case.
2. Tire Inflator
A good quality tire inflator may save you a call to your automotive club. Many times, tires may lose pressure simply because of a temperature change or after hours on the road during a lengthy trip. Tire inflators plug into the cigarette lighter area of your vehicle and work efficiently. I can’t count the amount of times that we’ve used our tire inflator after realizing that a tire or two had lost air during a previous trip the day before. It not only saved us from hunting for a gas or service station to remedy the situation but in the northern climates many outdoor air pumps may not work due to the low temps. On a side note, I really dislike paying a dollar for air from a gas station pump and would much rather spend a few dollars more to own my own portable inflator.
3. Cell Phone Charger or Backup Battery
Each of my vehicles has a cell phone charger to fit each of my family member’s smartphone. Sounds like a cord overkill, I know, but there have been multiple times when we were driving in an area and our GPS navigation system decided to take a snooze. Using our smart phone with any number of navigation apps has saved us from stopping for directions or getting lost on an unknown back road. As such, cell phone batteries drain when you least expect them to, so purchasing inexpensive cell phone chargers before a road trip that plug into the cigarette outlet or the bank style that you charge ahead of time and plug into the phone itself are worthy of the five dollars spent on each.
4. Extra Snacks and Water
How many times have you asked your kids if they were hungry while on the move and they answered no? Okay, now how many times have your kids had to sit still and immediately expressed the need for food? Exactly. In times of automotive trouble, having a few extra healthy snacks and bottled water will calm those hungry bellies and if your car ever breaks down during the summer in squelching heat, extra bottled water will keep you hydrated and cool. Do your kids like to keep occupied? Before you hit the road, download a few new apps onto their tablet or iPod to halt boredom in its tracks while you wait for repairs.
5. Roadside Safety Kit
It goes without saying that no vehicle’s trunk contents would be complete without a roadside safety kit. Filled with jumper cables, fuses, flares, and a first aid kit, most kits are highly affordable and well worth the cost. I have personally never needed to use a flare, but it is nice to know that they’re in the trunk if I need them. If your emergency car kit doesn’t come with a blanket, fold one up and throw it in the kit as well.
Looking for more great TMOM tips on planning successful travel? Check out our video with VolunteerSpot: