10 things you should have in your car when you’re taking a road trip

The sun is shining, the weekend is here, and you're itching to head out on the open road. Road trips are full of unplanned adventures: some good, some not so good. Beyond the essentials that should always be in your car (like a first aid kit, booster cables, a spare tire, your vehicle's registration, proof of insurance, phone and charger), here are 10 things to keep in your car so you're prepared for anything a road trip might throw at you.

  1. Snacks and water. A cooler of goodies might already be part of your plan, but it's a good idea to keep an emergency stash of shelf-stable food in your vehicle. Along with a supply of water, you should have protein bars, dried fruit, pretzels, nuts — anything that you can snack on in case you get sidetracked or break down in a remote area. In the heat of the summer, be sure to store items that won't melt. (It probably goes without saying, but remember to save your snacking for when you aren't concentrating on driving.)
  2. Travel wipes. Whether you take a break for ice cream at your favorite roadside stand or stop to search for crayfish on the beach, there are many adventures that can leave you with hands in need of cleaning. You'll be thankful to have a stash of travel wipes.
  3. A blanket. The ultimate multitasker, a blanket can provide a seating area for a spontaneous picnic or keep you warm during a fireworks display. It will also keep you or your passengers cozy if you need a quick roadside nap on long travel days.
  4. A flashlight. Keep a portable flashlight in your car and take it with you if you stop for a hike or do any exploring. Darkness has a way of creeping up on you when you're having fun, and some rest stops may not have functioning lights.
  5. Reflective triangles. Whether you pull over to consult a map or to check something under the hood, a safe parking spot isn't always guaranteed. You want your car to be seen by other drivers on the road.
  6. Tissues. If your allergies act up during a hike or the roadside rest stop is out of toilet paper, you'll want a supply on hand.
  7. Work gloves. Gloves come in handy if you have to change a tire or unload camping or picnic gear. They can also come in handy if you encounter something less expected, like a turtle that needs rescuing from the middle of the road.
  8. A small trashcan or bag. There are many trash bins designed for this purpose on the market, but a used shopping bag will work just as well. Keep a few in your car and dispose of them in a roadside trash bin when they're full.
  9. Duct tape. Duct tape can buy you a little time if you have any minor mishaps on the road, like a broken side mirror or a window that won't stay closed. Be sure to bring your vehicle to an auto repair shop as soon as possible.
  10. A multipurpose tool. You'll be ready for anything with a tool that includes scissors, a small knife, pliers, and a corkscrew. (Bonus tip: when it comes to multipurpose tools, quality matters — when you need a pair of scissors, there's nothing more frustrating than finding out you're stuck with a flimsy set that won't do the job!)

If your road trip is in the winter or when the seasons are beginning to change, be sure to keep a winter emergency driving kit in your car, too. Your adventure awaits. Stock up your car, be safe, and get out there and have fun!

This article was originally posted on economical.com.

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