Summer Road Trip Must-Haves: What items should always be in the car

Summer is the ideal time for road trips, whether they are short day-trips or longer holidays. Your teen is new to driving and as a parent or guardian, you’ll want to make sure that they have all the right items in their car in case they need them in a pinch. It may be tempting to think that you don’t need to pack an emergency kit in the summer since weather conditions are usually less hazardous than in the snowy winter months, but the truth is that no matter what time of year it is, the unexpected can happen!

What to Consider

Many stores sell pre-made emergency kits that contain a small first-aid kit, jumper cables, tarps, a flashlight and more. These are a great place to start, but you should consider adding or upgrading some items depending on the season.

Consider what conditions the car will encounter in the summer: hot and glaring sun, sudden downpours of rain, and an increased risk of tire blowouts. You may also want to consider where the vehicle is likely to be going in the summer, like to the beach, off-roading, camping, or to parties. Lastly, consider who is likely to be driving (or riding in) the car and cater the items to their unique needs.

Here are some important items to start with.

Road Trip Must-Have: Emergency Medical Supplies

As previously mentioned, emergency kits are a great start. A good-quality emergency first aid kit will contain bandages, ointments, scissors, and other important supplies. You may also choose to add or upgrade supplies according to your situation.

Adding commonly used medicines like a travel pack of Tylenol or Gravol, allergy medicines like Claritin, hand sanitizer, backup contact lenses, or a thermometer can be a great way to start bulking up your emergency first aid kit and personalizing it to your family’s needs.

Road Trip Must-Have: Everything Needed to Change a Flat Tire

The heat is NOT a friend to your tires. When you are driving long distances in the hot summer months you are at an increased risk of a tire blowout. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you have everything you need to change the tire in a pinch. Check the spare often to make sure it’s in good working order.

The items you’ll need include:

  • An easy-to-use manual car jack that works with your vehicle
  • A spare tire
  • A lug wrench
  • Wheel wedges
  • Tire gauge

Road Trip Must-Have: Sun Protection

When you think about road tripping in the summer, sun is usually top-of-mind. But do you stock common items in your car, or do you rely on your ability to remember to pack them for each trip?

Things like a spare pair of sunglasses, a hat with a visor, sunscreen, water, and bug spray are often needed in the summer. Consider leaving a sun protection kit with these items in the car so it’s always available when needed.

Road Trip Must-Have: Communication Items

Summer trips can take you off the beaten path. What if something happens and there’s no way to get in touch with a parent or emergency services? For this reason, it’s important to keep an extra cell phone charger and a written list of important emergency contacts in the car.

Road Trip Must-Have: “Waiting for Help” Supplies

When you get stuck, break down, run out of gas, or must wait for a long period of time, there are a few things that will come in handy. A jacket or blanket, trail mix or non-perishable food items, water, and flares are great items to keep in the vehicle in case of this type of situation.

Road Trip Must-Have: The Know-How to Stay Safe

This is not a physical item but knowing how to use each of these Road Trip Must-Haves and how to avoid situations where they may be required is, of course, a key part of summer road trip safety. That’s why we include topics like Emergency Techniques, Collision Prevention, and Vehicle Inspections in our online course for parents, Teach Your Teen to Drive. Before sending your teen off on their first road trip, make sure they are driving in a safe state of mind and they know how to handle emergency situations. Go through these Road Trip Must-Have Items in the car so they know what’s there and how to use it. This will set your teen up for success no matter what they may encounter on their summer trips!

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