Road Trip Essentials Check List – What You Didn’t Pack

Woman Thinking

What do you need to take on your road trip?  Your companions?  Check!  Your luggage?  Check!  Money?  Check!  Maps and GPS?  Check!  What else?

To figure out what else to pack, you just need to go through some ‘what if’ scenarios and decide what you might need to handle them.  Here are some common situations you may find yourself in and what I recommend taking along!  Being prepared will help you make the most out of any bad situation.

Avoiding Car Trouble

Fortunately, many car troubles can be prevented by performing regular maintenance on your vehicle prior to leaving on your road trip.  This includes making sure the following is checked:Mechanic

  1. Battery – ensure the battery is maintaining a good charge. If it is older than 5-7 years old, consider replacing it.
  2. Tires – check the wear on your tires and maintain the proper tire pressure as designated on the door panel of your vehicle.
  3. Belts and hoses – ensure they are not cracked and have the proper fit
  4. Fluid levels – change the oil and check all fluids for the proper function and levels
  5. Brakes – make sure your brakes are functioning properly and not ready for replacement
  6. Suspension – have all joints and suspension components checked for proper function
  7. Spare tire – check for proper inflation and that all of the tools are there to change it

However, even the best maintenance can’t save you from road hazards or forgetfulness.  So, what can you do besides call AAA or some other road side assistance?

Dead Battery

Perfectly good batteries can be drained by new-fangled electronic key fobs or accidently leaving lights turned on or devices plugged in.  It can also be caused by a bad alternator which is responsible for charging your battery while your car is running.

If your battery is dead, you can jump start your car using another car or a jump start pack like this one.  The added benefit to this particular jump start pack is that it also serves as a portable power source for charging your cell phone.

Just don’t forget to charge it before you go!

Flat TireFlat Tire

Even if you have brand new tires properly inflated, you can run over a nail, screw, or other sharp object that can puncture your tire.  In this case, you can either call AAA, change the tire out and use your spare, or you can try a tire repair kit like this one.

Spare Key

The 3rd most common call for help is that the keys are locked inside the car.  Always, always, always have a spare key – preferably, the full-service key, but at least a valet key – and give it to someone else in your party.

Even if your vehicle comes equipped with a keyless entry (make sure you know the code!), a spare key is handy if you should lose your key, the battery goes dead, or you become separated.

You may also want to consider getting a magnetic key holder like this one.  It is recommended that you clean the area where this holder will attach and attach it so that the magnet side is down so that gravity works with you, not against you.

Running out of Gas

Believe it or not, running out of gas is still a fairly common occurrence!  Even with all of the warnings and MPG details right there on our dash.  Prevention is the best here, filling up before your tank gets down to half full is a good rule of thumb.

That said, there are a few solutions if you should run out of gas on the road. Empty Fuel

While not recommended, some people will carry extra gas with them on long road trips across sparsely populated areas.  If you are going to do that, please carry the gas outside of the vehicle in approved containers to avoid exposure to any toxic fumes.  Fill only 90-95% full to allow for expansion.

Only carry empty gas containers if they are actually empty and dry.  More fumes (which are volatile) build up with less gas in the container.

That all said, there are a couple safer alternatives to help out in a bind.  One is the single-use gas containers that are collapsible and easily stored in your trunk.  Of course, you still need to get to a gas station – either by walking or using a service like Uber or Lyft.

Another alternative is something like Magic Tank – a gasoline derivative that is not volatile, but will burn in your fuel tank with the help of the gasoline left in your tank to ignite it and the heat of the engine to burn it.  You have to use it before your engine gets cold!

Lastly, there are some online services out there that will deliver gas to you.  Most notably which also has other roadside assistance offerings.  They may not be able to help you in remote places however.

I Have to Go Now!

Sometimes, when you gotta go, you gotta go.  There is no waiting for the next area of trying to find a public restroom.  When nature calls, sometimes you just have to deal with it.  The best way is to find a good place to pull off the road that provides some kind of privacy.  Grab your little pack of supplies and take care of business.  What do I need?

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Matches or a lighter to burn the paper
  3. A foldable shovel to bury the evidence
  4. Hand sanitizer or wipes to clean up

Stranded!  What now!

You’ve done all of the preventive maintenance and tried everything, but you are still stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for help.  What should I have on hand?  Here’s a list:

  1. Always carry water bottles full of water that you can refill.  In addition, carry water purification tablets to expand your Stranded with Car Troublesources of water.
  2. Blankets or Sleeping Bags. Your car is your best shelter and your best chance to be found.  Stay there.  Stay warm with high quality blankets like these or sleeping bags.  Waterproof is best.
  3. Flashlight/Headlamp and extra batteries
  4. Insect repellent to keep those pesky bugs at bay
  5. Compass – in case you need to venture out. Know how to use it!
  6. Rain Ponchos – to keep dry in case it rains
  7. Tarps and bungee straps for a makeshift shelter
  8. A quality knife and multi-purpose tool
  9. Duct tape. You can do amazing things with duct tape
  10. Hat/gloves/jacket – you should always have these – especially if you’re in the mountains
  11. Flares or reflective triangles to make your disabled vehicle visible on the road
  12. Sunscreen
  13. Weather radio
  14. Paracord
  15. Mace or pepper spray – because you just never know
  16. Snacks – protein bars, granola, nuts

You can download the complete checklist here: Road Trip Essentials Checklist.  Packing these essential items into a duffel bag and having it in your vehicle will prepare you for just about anything that might come up while you’re on the road.  Did I miss anything?  Comment below and let us know about your experience!

Are you looking for ideas or assistance in planning your next road trip adventure?  Contact us today! We’d love to help!

As always, thanks for reading!

Kristi, aka the Trippy Tripster

About Author

Kristi enjoys traveling and taking road trips to fully experience life. She loves to find local eateries, off the beaten path hidden gems, and the secrets to enjoying the journey.

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(4) Comments

  1. Neely Moldovan

    These are so important. I have gotten a flat on a road trip more than once!

    1. Trippy Tripster

      Thanks! Yes, flats are the worst! Last one I had was on a busy freeway. Was terrifying!

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    Love the emergency bathroom kit. And having an extra key! Great tips.


    1. Trippy Tripster

      Haha, I agree! Thanks for reading the post!

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