I have one exceptionally fond memory of a summer road trip as a kid. Perched in the back seat of our Ford Fairmont station wagon, staring out the back window, I witnessed a dreaded reality: our suitcases had flown off the top of the car and were bouncing up and down on the highway, emptying out one piece of underwear at a time. True story - I kid you not.
Ever since that experience, I’ve been a little paranoid about road trips. Or let’s say this: I get EXTRA prepared (if I can claim the paranoia as preparedness?!)
So, besides the items we strap down on our roof, here’s my Summer Road Trip Family Van Checklist:
Let’s start with the human needs…then move to safety. What is more likely? My kid gets hungry in the car…or a tire blows? (Fingers crossed!)
Containerize. I know some people store their family emergency supplies in a large cooler inside the car. I love this idea (especially if you have food items for little ones). I just don’t want to buy one myself. Since I’ve got plenty of clear storage bins in all sizes, that’s what I use. Placing items in clear zip-top bags helps you quickly see what’s inside, but also keeps things waterproof.
Energize. You never know when the road trip munchies will start - and who wants to pull over for each person’s hunger strike? Stock your kit with some healthier snacks that don’t need refrigeration: dried fruits, nuts, jerky, kale chips and more. I also have water bottles and Gatorade powder. For good measure, I keep plastic utensils and napkins in the car, too.
First Aid & Pain Management. I’ve got the basics covered here: bandages, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, chewable ibuprofen, cough drops, activated charcoal (I swear by this for stomach aches!) bug spray…and don’t forget the sunscreen! Then, there is “magic soap” (a.k.a. antibacterial hand cleaner), a few extra large zip-top bags and of course, a permanent marker. (What good organizer would be caught dead without a permanent marker?) Adding in a poncho and blanket is a good idea, if you can fit them. (In truth, these don’t fit in my storage bin…they're tucked under the seat.)
Personal Products. Feminine products, mints, lip balm, Vaseline, a small brush, extra hair ties for my girls. There is also a pair of nail clippers, a nail file & tweezers. I’ve also got an pair of my older prescription glasses - just in case :) I love the Tide Stain Stick, too.
And now for the real emergency supplies. This may go without saying, but don’t forget to add a flashlight and matches, and emergency whistles, too. And because I used to work for Outward Bound, I’ve got water purification tablets. But I still keep bottled water in the car, too. It’s not for drinking, necessarily, but in case we need it to pour over a potential wound or use it to wash away dirt from a scrape.
I’ve also got an extra phone charger (that plugs into the cigarette lighter), a pocket knife, jumper cables, duct tape and gloves.
Better to have it and not need it, right? Putting together a good summer emergency car kit can not only prepare you for a break-down in the summer heat, but also give you peace of mind. It’s better to have it and not need it…than to need it and not have it.