Everyone who has a car should have certain items at hand, in case of troubles. Here is the list of the things, I do recommend you to have in your car emergency kit. I did add a few additional tips just for you 😉
Better be prepared than sorry!
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Please note that we’re not going “survivalist mode” here. We’re just getting ready to face troubles on the road… normal roads! They type where you might not get good phone service, but you will still be able to call for help in a reasonable amount of time.
In these circumstances, safety is a priority. You might still get a bit hungry, while waiting but you do not risk starvation.
I’m mentioning this because a lot of people out there will recommend you to have lots of water available and food, like dehydrated food, snacks, etc. And it’s a nice idea to have some, but in most circumstances, there really is no point filling your car with water and food. Again, in most circumstances, you will be able to get help in a reasonable amount of time.
If you are going off-road, in extreme conditions or in remote locations, then you do need to get prepared but this guide isn’t the answer you are looking for.
For your safety
In case of crash or breakdown, being seen by other drivers is the most important thing. It can save your life and cost very little.
In some countries having high visibility safety vests is mandatory, in others it isn’t, but in all circumstances, it is definitively a must have. A safety warning triangle is also something you should consider having. It warns other drivers of your presence from a distance and allows them to, hopefully slow down or at least avoid colliding in your vehicle.
You should have as many safety vests as there are passengers in your car. The best place to put those, is in my opinion, under your sit so these are easily accessible. If you put them in your trunk, you might have to dig them out from under a mountain of luggage and that’s not the best plan.
If you have a dog, don’t forget about him! There are safety vests for pooches too. And they are just adorable!!
For your car
I assume you have jumper cables. These should be part of any beginner’s emergency kit. Not mentioning that you could be the one helping out someone else, and it will make you feel like a road hero! OK, it might!
In my opinion, a fire extinguisher is also a must have. I don’t even understand why cars don’t come with them mounted in. The good thing is that they are not that expensive anymore. You can easily find tiny ones that can be stored under your sit or on the side.
An emergency window glass hammer isn’t a bad idea to have. These are mandatory in public transport but not in private cars. I really wonder why?
Most of the ones you can find also include a seat belt cutter.
Having a flashlight in your glove compartment is always a good idea. I know you usually use your phone as a flashlight. I do too. But in case of breakdown, saving your phone battery is probably a good idea! Even if you have a charger or a external power bank.
I like hand cranking flashlights. They are getting better and better. They are still not as bright as a Mag Light, but they are definitively brighter than a Mag Light with a dead battery!
A first Aid kit should also be part of your car emergency kit. It’s always useful, not just in case of big trouble. You can make your own and add a few basic medication like a pain killer and something against motion sickness. Make sure to replenish the band aids section!
Another thing you should consider having is a tool box. The thing here is that it depends if you know how to use them! If you do get one, make sure the tools are what you would actually need. And do add some gloves to your box.
There are a lot of tools you can carry around like things to change a flat tire. But if you don’t have a spare tire, or don’t know how to change one, then maybe you should opt for another type of solution.
That’s when tire inflators come in handy. They seal punctures and inflates tires in seconds. The one recommended below is eco-friendly and can be cleaned up with water so the tire can eventually be repaired.
There are other things I like to have in my car and the first one is a comfy blanket! I used it all the time, especially to wrap myself in softness when taking a little nap. Yes, I also have a little pillow to be extra comfortable!
Such blanket will also keep me warm, if I was ever stranded because of a car issue. Double win!
If you’re not into comfy blankets (why??), then at least pack a little sleeping bag like this one.
And finally, a knife is always a must have. I always have one close by so I almost forgot to include. As you may have seen on some of my other lists, I’m a huge fan of Swiss Army knives. There are so many different options, it’s hard to choose. I would advise to keep it small and simple, if it’s your first one.
In winter, you might need to add a few extra items to your car emergency kit. And I’m not just talking about extra food and hot drinks.
Tire chains or socks can be useful. Eventually you should learn how to use them!
An ice scraper will most likely come in handy.
Emergency thermal blankets take no space but could save your life or someone else’s life.
As you may have noticed, I do not recommend any emergency bag. I think it is a mistake to put all of those things in your trunk. Like mentioned, the safety vest, the lamp, the emergency blankets, the hammer… should stay inside the vehicle with you and should be easily accessible.
Some of the other things can go in the trunk, just don’t bury them and try to keep them as accessible as possible.
That’s it! Those are all the things I recommend you to have in your car emergency kit.
If you need inspiration for your next trip, you can check out my maps!