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Summer road tripping: What your emergency kit should have

Summer road trips are one of the most fun (and stressful) things you’ll ever do. “Why stressful?” Parents don’t even need me to answer that question. Traveling is a thousand times harder when you have irritable children in the backseat!

Road trip related stress isn’t reserved for moms and dads. If you ever break down in an unfamiliar city, you’ll be relieved to have an emergency kit. Here are four things to put inside. (People who hate horror movies will appreciate #4.)

Pencil and paper

Confused? I’ll explain. Imagine you breakdown. A little while later, you see a mechanic, who asks:

“How fast were you driving when all of this happened?”

“Did your check engine light turn on before or after the incident?”

“Were there any other strange sights, sounds, smells, or sensations?

Scratching your head? That’s typical! Car breakdowns are stressful. Your mind immediately goes to panic mode, so it’s hard to process (and remember) these details.

Difficult or not, you need to do it. Mechanics are like doctors for cars. They can’t accurately diagnose a car problem without being aware of the symptoms that preceded its illness (breakdown). You can’t always count on your memory, so write it down! As soon as you pull over in a safe place, make a list of observations. Share that information with your mechanic to make their life (and yours) easier, and get you back on the road quicker.

You might be wondering: “Why use a pencil instead of a pen?” Simple: pens run out of ink. Pencils don’t. Do keep a few on hand in case one breaks.

Cell phone charger

Smartphones are wonderful! You can call AAA, map directions, find a towing service, and check out auto shop reviews as soon as you’re out of harm’s way.

…but what if your phone battery dies? Uh-oh. Hope you like hitchhiking! If you’d rather not have to depend on the goodwill of strangers, keep a phone charger in your emergency kit.

Battery jumper cables

The battery is your engine’s life source. If it runs out of energy, you can’t go anywhere. There’s nothing worse than having to approach strangers in the parking lot until you find someone with jumper cables.

Keep your own set of jumper cables in your trunk. You’ll still need to find somebody to give you a jump, but at least you’ll have the equipment ready. Even better, get a jump starter that doesn’t require help from another driver. If you ever breakdown in the middle of the night and there aren’t any cars in sight, it’ll come in handy.

Flashlight and latex gloves

Do you know how many horror films have a scene where a driver breaks down on a dark, spooky road? Freddy and Jason are fictional characters, but that doesn’t make the situation any less scary.

Having a flashlight is good for practical reasons, too. If there aren’t any streetlights around, good luck figuring out what’s wrong. Put on your gloves before you touch anything. This will help you prevent cuts, scrapes, or (even worse) breaking a nail.

If you think keeping an emergency kit is a smart move, share this article on social media! Your friends will appreciate the helpful tips.