Road Trip Essentials

We road trip in all seasons and all regions of the country. Over many thousands of miles and hundreds of road trips, here are a few road trip essentials we always have packed somewhere in the car.

LED Headlamp

LED headlamps are better than flashlights for two reasons: 1. You don’t have to carry extra batteries or worry about your batteries losing their charge in colder weather. 2. Headlamps are hands-free, allowing you to do other things, like signal for help or work under the hood of your car. We like this one from Black Diamond and also use it while camping and trick-or-treating with the kids:

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp, Matte Black

Collapsible Utility Shovel

Utility shovels obviously come in handy if you need to dig out of a snowbank. Last summer I saw a minivan get stuck on the beach as high tide was rolling in. I have never seen so much sand pail action in my entire life; a snow shovel would have gotten the job done with a lot less back strain. You don’t need anything fancy, this aluminum model will get the job done:

AAA 4005 Blue Aluminum Sport Utility Shovel

Road Flares

Like the flashlight, old school road flares are now powered by LED technology (but still keep a butane lighter or pack of matches in your glove box). You never know when you’ll break down at night or on a hairpin turn and road flares can easily save lives.  These guys cost less than $10 and come with their own storage case:

Life Gear LED Emergency Road Flare 3-pack with Magnetic Bases

First Aid Kit

With three kids, I’m always digging into the first aid kit in our car. Obviously, replenish the band aids as you use them up. I recommend a kit with scissors and saline solution, as I have used both of these items more than once. Coleman is a reputable brand; keep this one handy for camping trips, soccer games, etc.:

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

Automobile Fire Extinguisher

We’ve all seen enough Hollywood movies to understand cars are flammable objects. A compact automobile fire extinguisher is never a bad idea, especially on isolated roads or conditions where forest fires are potentially environmentally devastating. Kiddie is a great brand:

KID21006287 – Kidde FX511 Automobile Fire Extinguisher

Safe travels!

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at