Skip to main content

See also:

5 Handy Items to Keep in Your Vehicle When Traveling

Dirt Road Explorer
Dirt Road ExplorerSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Every traveler wishes for incident-free trips to see local landmarks, historical sites or geographical wonders. But sometimes emergencies happen and help is not always a simple cell phone call away.

No one wants to encounter a problem with their vehicle, a medical emergency or dealing with getting lost down an old country road, so travelers are wise to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. Keeping these five helpful items in your vehicle can do a world of good to help you through an unexpected emergency. Even better, they are all inexpensive and readily available at any general store.

1. Water

The number one item any traveler should carry with them is purified drinking water. Water is not only good for satisfying your thirst, it can also be used to fill an overheated radiator, wash a wound, or cool your skin during a hot summer day.

When choosing how much water to take with you, think of this question: How much water is enough to handle a car emergency AND a medical emergency? At least one gallon is usually advised but it wouldn't hurt to keep two to five gallons in the trunk.

2. Duct Tape

Perhaps mankind’s most universal modern tool, duct tape was created by Johnson & Johnson for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. It's initial purpose was to fix metal pipes and to keep water out of ammunition boxes.

Duct tape is ideal for fixing a busted hose in your vehicle’s engine. Or it could fix other things, such as temporarily mending tears in your clothing or shoes. Since the tape is waterproof and tough it can be used to make anything from clothing to drinking cups.

3. Flashlight

If you are traveling close to home in the daylight, you may never need to use a flashlight. But if you travel at night or have a vehicle emergency, a flashlight can be a critical device to have around. With a flashlight, you can look for problems with your car, examine a cut or bruise, and signal for help if you get stranded on the road at night.

LED flashlights are all the rage these days for their low power use but the traditional tungsten flashlights are best to keep around because of their concentrated beam. Keep a flashlight in your glove compartment or emergency kit with at least one change of batteries.

4. Medical Kit

Most stores sell a small inexpensive medical kit that is perfect for keeping in your vehicle. Inside you will usually find bandages, gauze, tweezers, antiseptic ointment and maybe a few other small items. If you are going to add to the kit, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning a cut and hand sanitizer is good for making sure germs don’t tag along for the ride home.

5. Tarp or Blanket

Sometimes having a blanket or tarp in your trunk opens up a new world of possibilities for your trip. For example, you can have a roadside picnic, take a nap under the shade, or bundle up while watching an autumn sunset. In an emergency situation, a colored tarp (like blue or green) can not only provide sun cover but also be a visual signal for help.

Dirt Road Explorer
Dirt Road Explorer Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Dirt Road Explorer

Many day-trippers prefer to stay on well-paved paths, such as state highways. But the adventurous in heart often find great joy in venturing down the path unknown. If you have an emergency when traveling down one of these roads, do you have anything in your vehicle that can help you manage the situation?

A Scenic Road Trip
A Scenic Road Trip David McNew/Getty Images

A Scenic Road Trip

Every year millions of Americans head out on short road trips to see local landmarks, historical sites and geographic wonders. For most, their trip will end without incident. But what if something happens while you are traveling? Do you have any helpful supplies in your vehicle to manage an emergency?