Do you hit the road spontaneously? If so, you may want to reconsider. Spontaneous road trips are fun, but if you’re not prepared for emergencies, it could be a disaster. When you take others with you, like pets and children, it’s especially important to plan ahead of time. For instance, if you frequently take your cat with you in the car, your cat will appreciate a blanket or sweater.
If your car is already equipped to prepare you for anything and everything, carry on with your spontaneous road trips. If not, here’s how to get prepared:
Carry the standard tools
Consider the possibility that if your battery dies, the only car you can flag down may not have jumper cables. If you always carry jumper cables, you can get help from any driver. Plus, you may find yourself in a situation where someone needs a jump from you. When you have cables, you can save someone else in need.
Pretend you’ll need to be self-sufficient for everything
If you want to be prepared for everything, think in terms of self-sufficiency. If you’re not a car mechanic, you’ll need roadside assistance, but consider self-sufficiency in every other area. For example, your goal is to be able to survive both inside and outside of your vehicle in any weather condition.
In the Ultimate Road Trip Guide, Campanella’s suggests stocking your car with a winter survival kit including items like an ice scraper, sand and salt, a flashlight, and a snow shovel. Even in the summer, leave these tools in your car. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by forgetting to replace the items.
You might think you can just huddle up in the backseat with the heater on if your vehicle breaks down or you run out of gas, but what if you’re in a bad part of town? What if you’re in the middle of the freeway, or another unsafe area? What if your heater doesn’t work?
Pack the following items for self-sufficiency inside or outside of your car:
- A warm fleece blanket. Sure, you can pack a mylar emergency blanket, but be realistic. In an emergency where you can remain in your car, would you rather wrap yourself in foil or a fuzzy fleece blanket? Both will retain your body heat, but only fleece will be comfortable.
- Fleece pants. Again, fleece is the best material for staying warm because it retains your body heat and reflects it back to you, which amplifies your warmth. Wool will keep you warm, too, but wool maintains body temperature so it will actually keep you cooler than fleece.
- Bottled water. Bottled water is the antithesis of green living, but in an emergency situation, it will keep you hydrated until you can get help. If you’re only stuck for a few hours, you’ll be fine, but in the harsh winter months, some people get stuck for days.
Plastic bottles are cheap, but contaminate the water when heated. Glass is more expensive but the bottles will be sealed; they won’t leak and they won’t end up tasting like a locker room.
- Protein powder and snack bars. Call them protein bars, energy bars, or snack bars, just keep a good stash in your car. Protein powder is good, too. All of these items can be consumed in the car, or taken with you elsewhere.
- A small backpack. Fill a small backpack with emergency supplies you may need if you have to exit your car and walk down the road to a safer area. Or, if you’re a serious backpacker, fill it out with survival gear. You’ll make it through anything.
- A tent made for winter. If you travel during the winter, this is essential. If you can’t camp out in your car due to unsafe conditions, a tent will help you create shelter in a safer place. You can’t always count on being in a populated area when you get stuck in the snow.
- A rocket stove. You probably won’t need this, but they’re small enough to make it worth packing. If you do end up needing to camp out in a tent away from your car, a rocket stove will provide you with the ability to boil water for coffee, and heat up a can of beans for dinner.
Road trips are a blast, but things don’t always go as planned. Preparing yourself to meet any condition will put your mind at ease. When you’re fully prepared, even if you do get a flat tire or need a jump, it won’t ruin your trip.