Prep and Pack

90+ Must Haves for Your Road Trip

car emergency kit must haves
The great American road trip requires planning and packing. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Since I’ve spent close to a decade driving my three kids across the lower 48 and six Canadian provinces, I’m prepared. In the process I had a stolen on a road trip. Though I was prepared so I didn’t have end my trip. After logging close to 70,000 miles behind the wheel, I’ve pulled together a list of 90+ car emergency kit must haves for your trip.


Most importantly keep on schedule and arrive to your destination safely. Additionally keeping your car in good working order helps prevent roadside emergencies.

  • Spare tire-some newer cars might not have one
  • Jack–see if it’s complete before you need it.
  • Tire gauge
  • Tire inflator and sealer for emergency flat repair
  • Lug key–If your car requires one.
  • Car manual–What’s that mysterious light that just popped on your dash?
  • Jumper cables
  • Quart of oil + funnel
  • Leatherman tool or minimum a flat head and Phillips screw drivers along with adjustable pliers
  • Duct tape
  • WD-40
  • Flares
  • Paper Maps–Grab them for free at a state’s welcome center.


So stock your glove compartment with items you need to keep within arms reach, in case of emergency.

  • AAA membership card, or other travel insurance card
  • Copies of Drivers license and car insurance card
  • Car manual
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Window breaker and seat belt cutter
  • Matches or lighter
  • Car maintenance log
  • Multi Purpose Tool, like Leatherman
  • Tire Gauge


Got a console compartment? Load it up with these essentials.

  • Wipes
  • Facial tissue
  • Extra napkins or paper towels
  • Extra money, especially change for old-school parking meters.
  • Extra sunglasses
  • List of phone numbers of friends and family. Just in case the phone goes missing.
  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
car emergency kit must haves
A stocked first aid is necessary for your car. Photo Credit: Pixabay


Life with kids is unpredictable. Scrapes and falls happen frequently so be prepared. I keep my first aid kit under the driver’s seat.

  • Assorted bandages
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Anti-bacterial gel
  • Pain reliever, adults and kids
  • Allergy medication, like Benadryl
  • Antacid
  • Lip balm
  • Eye Wash
  • Extra required medication
  • Tweezers
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray


First grab a tote and pull together more supplies.

  • Old towel or blanket–never know when you have to rescue an animal
  • Extra pair of keys
  • Extra cords and cube for technology. In addition to the ones in use.
  • Extra pair of shoes, in case you break your flip-flops
  • Disposable rain ponchos


Pack a few essentials for everyday. Addsome road trip snacks when headed out for a family trip. Need more Road Trip Snack Ideas? Got a list of 75+.

  • Gallon jug of water, can be used for radiator too
  • Protein bars
  • Dried fruit bars
  • Dried nuts
  • Jerky
car emergency kit must haves
I always wash my SUV in heels. Photo Credit: Pixabay


Since we all know that kids are messy take a few minutes to wash the car regularly. And kids can help too.

  • Windex wipes
  • Armoral wipes
  • Microfiber cloths—Dry the outside and wipe down the inside.


First grab a small zip top bag and pack it with personal care products. Just in case I get stranded overnight unexpectedly.

  • Travel roll of toilet paper or a TP kit with toilet paper and hand wipes in a reusable bag
  • Travel toothbrush + paste
  • Dental floss or pics
  • Basic makeup, like mascara, powder and lip gloss
  • Deodorant
  • Extra pair of underwear
  • Contact holder + contact solution
  • Lady products
car emergency kids must haves.
Kids require their own emergency must haves. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker


Since keeping the kids clean is nearly impossible, be prepared.

  • Extra outfits plus socks and underwear
  • Sun hat for warmer weather
  • Beanie for cooler weather
  • Extra jacket or hoodie
  • Extra gloves – cheap ones OK
  • Stroller for kids under 6


When my kids were little, I used my SUV like a giant diaper bag. So keep these items stored where you change your baby in the car.

  • Baby food and/or formula
  • Extra diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Disposable grocery bags for the dirties
  • Bleach wipes
  • Extra clothes including shoes and socks
  • Another soothing object, like a pacifier
  • Extra toys
car emergency kit must haves.
This might be your road and you need to be prepared for winter driving. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker


Winter travel requires its own products if you live or travel in snow-prone areas.

  • State Website App for road closures and chain requirements
  • Ice scraper with brush, extra scraper for the kids to help
  • Can of de-icer
  • Chains or cables plus extra cash to have someone install them
  • Rubber gloves to protect hands when installing chains or removing snow and ice
  • Emergency blanket for heat retention
  • Extra food and water
  • Small packable shovel for snow removal

Load up the car and explore the open road across North America. Here's a list of 99+ Everyday Items to Pack for your trip. #RoadTrip #PackingList What you need to Pack for a Road Trip | Packing List for Road Trips

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