As a road tripper, and as a mom, the last thing I need is to be stranded on the side of the road with no way to bail myself out. ESPECIALLY if the problem is something that I can fix myself! That’s why I decided to let you guys in on what I keep in my trunk at ALL times…
I have three different “categories” of things in my trunk. First is my bin of essential automotive items. These items include (among a few non-essential things):
- Windshield Washer Fluid – Have you ever run out on a snowy/slushy day when the car ahead is hurling a mucky mess at you? If so, I can pretty much guarantee you’ve already got some of this in your trunk!
- Antifreeze (coolant) – Some types come as a concentrate that you are required to dilute with water before you put it in your car. I just purchase pre-diluted solution so I don’t have to worry about that if I’m stranded! And yes, I have been stranded with a coolant leak before, and was able to refill the reservoir and get my own car to the shop (saving a ton on a tow truck.) Please make sure that your fluid meets your particular car’s specifications. This can be found in your owners manual.
- A Scraper and Windshield De-Icer Spray – The scraper is essential if you’re traveling anywhere with a threat of snow or icy temperatures. The spray comes in super handy if you have lots of ice on your windows, but not a lot of time to scrape or wait for your heater to melt it.
- Brake Fluid – Honestly? I’ve never had to use this. But I know it’s there if I ever had a leak! Peace of mind… Again, make sure that your fluid meets your particular car’s specifications. This can be found in your owners manual.
- Sea Foam Motor Treatment – I use this fluid as a fuel system treatment every two to three months. You just fill your car with gasoline, then add 1 oz per gallon. It costs around $7, and it does a great job at dissolving deposits throughout your motor that are left by gasoline. I swear, every time I use it I get better gas mileage and my car seems to run more smoothly! It’s not essential for emergencies, but I always keep some in my car bin.
- Emergency First Aid Kit – I purchased this kit at Walmart for around $20. It’s good to keep handy in case you scrape yourself while changing a tire or burn your finger because you took the coolant cap off while the engine was still hot. (PLEASE don’t do that!)
- Jumper Cables – If you have these in your trunk, ANYONE can help you jump start your battery. If you don’t, you just get to hope that someone who has some will stop to help!
- Motor Oil – I keep an extra quart in my trunk in case I have an oil leak and can’t get it taken care of immediately. Note that it’s important that you check your oil level before you leave, and make sure that your oil meets your particular car’s specifications. This can be found in your owners manual.
- Funnels – I have one with a longer flute for gasoline treatments, and one with a shorter flute for engine fluids. Make sure you clean them well after each use.
- Flashlight – I don’t have one in this picture, but I keep one in my glove compartment (along with a nice thick pair of deer-skin gloves) for emergencies.
- Shop Towels or Microfiber Cloths – Sometimes when you’re topping off fluids, spills happen. Gas stations have paper towels pretty handy, but if you’re fixing things up on the side of the road, you may not want to be stuck with motor oil all over your hands!
- Duct Tape – I mean, it can pretty much fix anything… At least for the short term.
I’m sure there are plenty of other items I could keep in my bin for emergencies, but these are the things I’ve deemed most important based on my own road tripping experiences!
For my second category… See the big blue bag tucked in the back of my trunk? I keep a large quilt and a bag of sunscreen and bug repellant in there. We love to find a little mountain lakes or parks to stop at when we are on the road, and it’s really easy to forget the sunscreen, so I decided to just keep some in the bag! Also, that large blue bag is one I purchased at the IKEA check out line, and they are versatile and AWESOME. (As a sidenote, they are SO great for Costco shopping!)
The last category isn’t really a category. It’s just water, but it’s so important that I gave it its own category! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t ever leave on a road trip without a bunch of water bottles in your trunk! If you have a roadside emergency, especially in the hot summer, you don’t know how long it will take before you can get to the next town or service station. Water is essential.
I hope this post helps you guys in making sure you’re prepared for your next road trip!