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Stock your car with essentials to make sure that no matter what happens, you can get home safely without waiting for someone to come to the rescue.
1. Phone charger
From calling for help to navigating to safety, your phone can get you out of most jams. You never know when you’ll need to recharge it though, so keep a car charger or portable charger on hand.
2. Road map
If your phone charger stops working or you drive into a dead zone, you need a backup way to navigate. Keeping a physical map in your glove compartment can be a lifesaver.
You might want to update it every few years, especially if you add new cities to your regular road trip routes.
3. First aid kit
It doesn’t have to be a full hospital in a bag, but it’s a good idea to have some bandages, ibuprofen, antibacterial wipes and tampons or pads in case of an emergency. If you have a medical condition that requires emergency medicine, like glucose tablets or an inhaler, keep some in your car.
4. Bottled water
If you get stuck somewhere and you’re unable to buy water, you’ll be glad you put some in the car, even though it will likely be warmer than you’d like. It could also come in handy as a temporary stopgap if your engine overheats.
In a word, convenient. Think spills, eating on road trips and the dreaded flu season. Tissues also come in handy if you’re on the side of the road fixing a flat. Kneeling on pavement or dirt for an hour isn’t super fun.
6. Spare change
Having spare change in your car can come in handy for parking meters, buying gas or other necessities or if your wallet gets stolen. While you don’t want your life savings in your car, it’s good to have enough cash in your car to get you home.
A $20 bill and $5 in quarters should cover a day in an expensive parking garage or a short ride in a cash-only cab or tow truck.
A small flashlight in your trunk can be invaluable if you find yourself caught in the dark trying to change a flat tire. Don’t rely on your phone for this, since if your battery is dead, you’ll be out of luck.
8. Towel or blanket
If you’re stranded, towels or blankets can help you keep warm, and if you find yourself driving in snow, they can also be put under tires for traction to pull your car out of icy situations.
A blanket is also a necessity for driving with someone who keeps it colder than you’d like during a road trip.
9. Jumper cables
If you have a dead battery, jumper cables will help you get it going again, provided someone is nice enough to stop and offer their engine to get you started.
10. Raincoat or umbrella
Ever changed a tire in the rain? Yeah, it’s even less fun than it sounds. There’s nothing worse than having the skies open on your way out or even on your way home. Keep an umbrella or raincoat in your trunk for a rainy day.
Need extra coverage in case of a breakdown? Compare roadside assistance
How to customize your car kit
While these items aren’t as crucial, they can still come in handy in a pinch. Think about including items like these in your car emergency kit.
- A pen and paper. These never seem to be on hand when you need them.
- Cup trays. Extra cup holders — because one just isn’t enough.
- Duct tape and/or bungee cords. If something falls off your car, it’s good to be able to strap it back on.
- Car manual. Crucial when something goes wrong with your car. Even the pros refer to them.
- Basic toolkit. Even if you end up using it for something other than your car, a screwdriver is a must.
- Spare pair of comfortable shoes. Especially convenient in summer or bad weather, or just when those heels are killing you.
Give a car kit as a gift
Customized car kits are a great gift idea for car lovers and new drivers. Some households give teen drivers an emergency car kit when they get their license, packed with basics like jumper cables, a flashlight and some fast food cash. And for car nuts, an updated kit with a new set of tools and maybe a car book or magazine is a gift that’s always appreciated.
Put the essentials in a sturdy carrying case for easy transport. A clear, hard-sided case works nicely for durability and to make it easy to check when it’s time to replenish your kit.
Keeping an emergency kit in your car can help make sure you get home safely. For situations your kit can’t handle, make sure you sign with a car insurance company that has your back.
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