Road tripping is one of the best and most affordable ways to see the country. While it’s true you can fly pretty much anywhere, airline tickets can be astronomically expensive and they keep cramming you into smaller and smaller seats. Plus, while soaring at nearly 40,000 feet above the ground, you miss seeing everything along the way which is half the fun! Road tripping in your own car alleviates many of those problems, while allowing you to bring every member of your family, furry ones included. Of course there are things to worry about with road tripping, such as breakdowns and dead batteries; so here I have compiled a list of what I feel are the five most important things to keep in your car to avoid letting one of these situations completely ruin your good time.
A complete first aid kit with a basic first aid guide
Cut on your hand or a blister on your foot? Pounding headache that won’t go away? Burned yourself on something? Having a first aid kit in your car at all times helps with little situations like these, providing you with antiseptic wipes, bandages and sterile pads to treat any wounds, as well as a whole lot more that might just come in handy.
A small, comprehensive tool kit
Most vehicle manufacturers provide a small, rudimentary tool kit in the back of your vehicle. It’s usually just enough to change the tire, and maybe it includes a screwdriver. Go to a local auto parts or hardware store, and buy a basic automotive tool kit. They are relatively inexpensive, and can really help out in a pinch. Even if you don’t know how to use everything in it, somebody stopping to help you might.
Jumper cables or a compact battery jumper pack
One of the worst things that can happen on a road trip is a dead battery. It can make you lose precious time waiting for somebody to to help you start the car. When someone does offer to help you, it’s better for you to have jumper cables than to find out that they don’t have any either. A compact battery jump starter is even better, because then you don’t need to wait for help from anyone, and you will be on your way again in no time.
A bright flashlight with good batteries
A flashlight is one of the most important things to be in any car, road trip or not. Beyond just using them to see in the dark, flashlights allow you to be seen if it’s dark out and you’re by the roadside, or to signal for help from passing cars.
A clean, empty fuel can
I know it sounds funny to suggest keeping an empty fuel can handy, but an empty can has no risk of leaking fuel inside your car or filling it with noxious fumes. If it’s been used before, make sure it’s cleaned out thoroughly to avoid stinking up the inside of your car. In the event you run out of fuel, you may be able to hitch a ride or walk to the nearest fuel station, where they would otherwise make you buy a gas can for a premium price.
Although it would be quite difficult to keep everything in your car that you might need in case of a breakdown, carrying these particular things will leave you far better prepared should something happen. All these are listed in addition to a few other items that should be with you all the time, specifically drinking water, some amount of cash, a major credit card for emergencies, and a cell phone with a fully charged battery. Emergency calls to 911 go through on any available network, so even an older deactivated phone works well for this. If you want even more peace of mind, you can have the pros with YourMechanic come to your home or office and perform a full vehicle inspection to ensure your car doesn’t have any issues to be concerned about.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 5 Essential Items to Keep In Your Car and was authored by Toby Schultz.