Must-have car supplies: Road-trip essentials

By Jason Christopher, Contributing Writer

Let’s paint the scene here… Work has been stressful these last few weeks, the budget is a little tight at the moment, but you have a few vacation days you’ve been itching to use so you decide; you are ready to go on a long car trip. There’s nothing like hitting the open road for a lengthy drive through areas you’ve yet to experience, whether it be along the coast or through the heart of the country (whichever one you choose). Here are a few tips before you start your journey, as your vehicle should be checked to be in top condition. You certainly don’t want any unscheduled roadside stops (unless they’re photo opportunities at glorious scenic overlooks).

A post shared by Elaine Schoch (@elaineschoch) on

Must-have car supplies: Road-trip essentials

A Quick Check-Up
The first thing is to head to the auto shop and have them perform maintenance on your vehicle. Check fluids and windshield wiper condition. Change the oil and tune it up. Check the battery holds a full charge. Check the brakes. Check the tires for proper alignment, good condition and adequate tread. Inflate them to the pressure printed on the driver’s door jamb.

Emergency Kit
We can buy prepackaged emergency kits, but DIY is much more satisfying, and ensures you have everything you may need. Your emergency kit should include a charged fire extinguisher, emergency reflective triangles, ‘extended wire’ booster cables, two flashlights with extra batteries, tape, flares, first aid kit, work gloves, scraper, a few emergency tools like pliers and adjustable wrench, Swiss army type pocket knife, flat blade and Phillips-head screwdrivers, bungee cords to hold items broken loose, cable ties, a portable air compressor, and a tow rope. If you’d rather do the DIY kit, this is a good one.

Must-have car supplies: Road-trip essentials include a roadside emergency kit. Click over for more tips and tools.

A Spare Tire
Breaking down on the side of the road with a flat tire is exasperating. Inspect the spare tire in your trunk for correct tire pressure and tread depth. See the tire jack to change the tire. If your tires require a special security key, make sure that is available. If the spare tire is deflated or damaged, have it fixed. Check tire pressure with a pressure gauge.

GPS Navigation
Another must is a portable GPS navigator, the little blue dot on your phone is great, but without wifi you may find it worthless on the road. Consider purchasing a portable GPS navigator or try downloading your maps ahead of time so you can use them if wifi isn’t available. (Try Google Maps as well as HereWeGo for offline maps.) The GPS will make it easier to find gas stations, lower prices on gas and auto repair shops if necessary. It will warn of traffic congestion and find alternate routes. It can aid emergency services or roadside assistance to your current location. It can find overnight accommodations and places to eat. All these features are readily available on smartphones. As a backup, a paper road map is helpful.

Roadside Assistance
Remember to bring your AAA card or any other equivalent with you on the road for roadside assistance membership verification. AAA services will benefit a road-trip driver, like 24-hour roadside assistance and towing services.

OBD2 Scanner
For a long road trip, this is a must as it can help you identify whether that Check Engine light is serious or just a small little O2 Sensor. An Onboard Diagnostics II (OBD2) scanner is a standardized on-board system that vehicle computers use for diagnostic reporting. The OBD2 Scanner quickly reveals the cause of those pesky “check engine” light warnings.

Duct Tape
Duct tape is a modern miracle if a minor collision or other cause breaks part of your car away or an engine component holder breaks. Wrapped duct tape will hold the free-swinging part in place, away from hot engine parts and fan blades. (Toss it into your Emergency Kit so you always have it on hand.)

Miscellaneous Necessities
Pack bottled water, garbage bags, tissues, paper towels and several rolls of toilet paper. Allow for the possibility of spills and car sickness. Also beneficial are pen, pencils and paper for emergency notes.

Finally, your vehicle’s user manual should be in the glove box. Keep a duplicate set of car keys on your person at all times to avoid getting locked out of the car. Keep a cash stash in case of stopping at a station without power.

Safe travels!


About the Contributing Writer
Brought to you by Jason @ USS Sports Machine, a sports lover, writer and blogger. Jason hails from New York City where he is a sales associate by day and blogger at USS Sports Machine by night. He has a serious travel bug and tries to find time for trips to anywhere anytime he can. You can reach out to him at Jason @ usssportsmachine  dot com




  • Great tips! I never knew about OBD2 sensors, so that’s really helpful! I’ll definitely have to buy one of those for my next road trip – it’s better to find out immediately than to wait till the next pitstop. Thanks for sharing!

  • Your advice to carry an emergency kit consisting of flashlights, work gloves, scraper, a tow rope, and other important items is a great idea. If you have the correct tools, it could help you no matter the situation you get in. When choosing what to include with your kit, you’d probably want to make sure you get quality supplies that are the correct size, such as a tow rope that is the proper length and durability, in order to ensure that you can use them in an emergency without having to worry about any problems.

  • I love that you put duct tape on the list! My wife and I went down to gulf shores a few years ago in our Honda Civic. We hit a Raccoon and the whole front end exploded!! By exploded I mean the bumper and wheel wells just disintegrated. We used a lot of duct tape, but had to but it from a Walgreens. Wish we’d of read this list first!

  • Yes, we have to carry these essentials things with us when we are traveling. Because anything can happen during the trip. We have to carry a small first aid box and also the spare wheel.

    Nice post though.

  • Thanks Jason for your valuable info.Your ideas and sharing both are simply outstanding.Your tips are really helpful to understand which instruments should I carry when I am driving.
    When an emergency occurs people usually get nervous and an effective idea needs serious brainstorming to determine the best outcome. Even I was simply stumped on choosing decisions which could work for me.Most of the time it happens people got stuck in an awkward situation and they need some essential car instruments to get out themselves from that situations.I found your article more interesting and useful as a tool which could help me.

  • Great post, Jason. I can’t say I have been on many road trips but the few that I have had came with a few nasty surprises for us. I especially like the bit about ducktape. I just never thought about that. Thanks for the well-written post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge