Whether you’re headed home from college, going to grandma’s for a family gathering, or skipping it all to drive cross country, we have the packing tips you need to be prepared for your winter road trip.
While items like blankets, boots, and scrapers are specific to cold weather road trips, most of these essentials should be kept in your car at all times for emergency purposes. Make sure you have a designated space within reach inside your car for paperwork and emergency tools. This place should be kept organized, so important items aren’t lost, and you’re not fumbling through junk in a pinch.
Road Trip Must-Haves
- Paperwork – Keep a copy of your car insurance, license, and registration in a convenient place. Your car’s manual could also come in handy if you don’t recognize a warning light in your dash.
- Spare Tire – You should have a spare in your car whether you’re preparing for a road trip or not. Most spare tires come with a jack and tire iron; be sure you have these because the spare will be useless without them.
- Snow Chains (if going somewhere with snow, of course!) – If you don’t have all-weather tires, make sure you’re at least prepared with snow chains…even if you have 4-wheel drive. Not to mention, some snowy routes actually require snow chains, and you may have to show them to a traffic officer before proceeding on the route.
In Case of An Emergency
- Basic Auto Tool Kit – No matter how new your car may be, it’s always a good idea to keep a basic tool kit on-hand in case of an emergency. You can find ones that have tools especially useful for cars such as pliers, wrenches, zip ties, and more for less than $20 online or at your local hardware store.
- Foldable Shovel – This will fit conveniently in your trunk and come in handy especially if you’re stuck in sand, mud, or snow…or a little more snow fell than you had expected while you were cozying up in your Airbnb.
- Window Scraper + Brush – Because who has time to scrape an entire windshield with a credit card?
- Blanket – Winter weather can be harsh on a car, and you don’t want to get stuck on the side of the road without something to keep you warm. Pro tip: find one that zips into a small pouch to keep it out of the way when you don’t need it.
- Snow Boots – Holiday heels aren’t ideal for changing a flat in the snow. Enjoy wearing your holiday best with an emergency backup in the car. Even if they’re a cheap, but practical pair of boots, you’ll thank yourself later when your feet stay dry from the rain or snow.
- Waterproof Gloves – Cotton gloves might be convenient, but when it comes to scraping or shoveling snow and ice, it won’t take long for your hands to freeze.
- Reflective Triangles – If you have to pull over for any reason, it’s important to place a reflective triangle 10 feet and 100 feet behind your car to warn oncoming traffic. Some cars already come with reflective triangles, but they’re not expensive to buy if your car is missing them. To be extra cautious, you can also find sets online that include reflective vests if you end up on the side of the road at night.
- Portable Jump Starter – Jumper cables are great if you’re able to find a fellow traveller on the road who’s willing to give you a jump. If you’d prefer not to have to rely on someone else, pick up a portable jump starter that is compact and great for charging your phone, other devices…and especially jump starting your car!
- First Aid Kit – Splinters, headaches, hangnails or paper cuts – even minor injuries can be a major annoyance while on the road. Bandaids, antiseptic, pain medicine, burn cream, bandages and tweezers are great essentials to include in your car’s first-aid kit.
- Headlamp – Fixing a flat in the dark is difficult and dangerous. Make it a little easier with the help of a hands-free headlamp…especially if you don’t have a buddy around to hold up the flashlight app.
- All-Weather Floor Mats – These can be left in your car all year (hence the name), but are particularly helpful for those road-tripping to wet environments. Keep your car stain free with all-weather floor mats.
Organization is Key
- Sanitary Wipes – Moms already have wipes in their arsenal of cleaning items, but even without kids, sanitary wipes are especially handy on road trips for any spills or messes…because what’s a road trip without eating on-the-go?
- Seat Organizer – These are great for anyone looking to have their favorite road trip items out of the way, but within reach. Store books, snacks, tissues, and more with one of these convenient, compartmentalized accessories.
- Trunk Cubes – These will be especially helpful for transporting gifts to and from holiday parties. Additionally, having trunk cubes are great for keeping wet clothes like snow pants or wet suits away from everything else.
- Trash Bin – There’s nothing more unsightly than a car covered in garbage. Keep a car trash bin in a convenient area for when you need to toss tissues or wipes, and be even more neat by finding one that zips or snaps shut.