No matter where or when you’re driving, it pays to be prepared. If you and your kids have ever been stuck in a parking lot or had a car break down on the side of the road, you know why.
Forgot your cellphone?
Didn’t bring enough diapers?
Boy, are you hungry.
I’ve been there, done that. As a longtime automotive expert and parent, I have learned a lot about properly packing a vehicle. Here’s what to keep in your car if you’re a parent.
But before you start getting together these 20 items, throw what doesn’t belong in the seating area in a duffel bag in the trunk; this way, everything is accessible, and the cargo area is kept nice and neat.
1. Jumper cables
Don’t buy the cheap ones and make sure you know how to use them before you hit the road.
LED flashlights are the best and brightest choice. And don’t forget to pack extra batteries!
3. A good spare
Having a properly inflated spare tire or a functioning tire inflator kit is a must. If you have a spare, make sure it’s not damaged and that all the tools are on board. If your toting a tire repair kit, check the expiration date and read the instructions before you need it.
4. First aid kit
Go for more than just bandages. You never know when antiseptic wipes or tweezers may come in handy.
5. Yummy snacks
I prefer high-energy snacks like nuts, raisins, dried fruit and beef jerky, but pack the snacks you and your kids enjoy.
6. Bottled water
The water could be for you or – in a pinch – your radiator.
Pack one for every passenger who usually rides in the car.
8. Warning triangles
Flares, warning triangles or reflectors can be used to direct traffic away from your vehicle in the event of a break down. Just BE CAREFUL – look for oncoming traffic and do not exit your vehicle until it is safe to do so.
9. Cellphone charger
It’s important to have a car charger in the event of an emergency. In addition to using it to call AAA or 911, your cellphone is also a beacon that can help emergency personnel locate you.
10. AAA membership card
I’ve had my AAA card since I was 16 years old. It gives me peace of mind when I drive, especially when I travel out of town. Even a mechanical whiz can benefit from the convenience of a AAA membership, not to mention the discounts and other benefits it yields off the road. Click here to learn more.
11. Paper towels
A roll of paper towels is clutch when it’s time to clean greasy hands or dirty windows.
12. Glass cleaner
Use it to wipe dirt, grime and bugs (gross!) from your windows and headlights in between trips to the car wash.
13. Windshield washer fluid
Windshield visibility is crucial for safe driving. Carry extra washer fluid for when your reservoir needs a refill.
14. Work gloves
A pair gloves comes in handy when pumping gas, checking tire pressure or adding washer fluid. Where have your tires been? What have you been driving through? More like, “Why get it all over your hands?”
15. Hand sanitizer
While we’re at it, a little bottle of hand sanitizer or some wet wipes are more good options for cleaning messy manos.
16. Basic tools
You don’t need to be a mechanic to benefit from basic tools. Most of us can work with a screwdriver, hammer or pliers if we have to.
17. Duct tape
If you crack a hose, duct tape can provide a quick fix that will temporarily stop a leak while you get your car to a repair shop or technician.
18. Rain poncho
Low cost ones are a great choice for rainy days. A break down is bad enough without getting soaking wet in the process.
If you have little ones, extra diapers and wipes are a blessing. You can also use them in a bind if someone has car sickness.
20. Medications and feminine products
If your car breaks down far from home, it could be a while before you’re back on the road. Have extra medications or supplies available just in case.
Tossing all this stuff in a duffel bag will be a life saver when you’re on the road and the unexpected happens. Like the scouts say, it pays to “be prepared!”
Click here for more essential items to keep in your car.
Have any other suggestions for what to keep in your car if you’re a parent? Let us know in the comments section below!
By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach