So, it is now February. Many people take their road trips around Christmastime. But for others, it’s easier to go after the craziness of the holidays has passed. And depending on where you’re going of course (you probably wouldn’t have to worry about snow on a road trip to North Florida or Key West!), you could encounter winter driving conditions anytime between now and April.
In keeping with our past articles about road trip gear that is always under $20, we have a new article that highlights gear that will keep you safe if you’re traveling during the winter, and also help you stay cozy.
1. Drinking Chocolate
If you’ve never tried drinking chocolate, the perfect time is after coming in from a day in the snow. There’s really no comparison to regular hot chocolate powdered mixes. This one has the slightly gritty but deep taste of Mexican chocolate and makes for a rich, thick, creamy drink. Pack this along on your winter trip and reward yourself and your family at the end of the day.
2. Folding Shovel
At only $15, this is an investment you can’t afford to not make if you’re traveling in snow. Use it to dig yourself out if you’re trapped in snow (or sand). It folds up, so it doesn’t take up much room. While it’s not super heavy duty, it will move snow and, bonus! It also works well as a sand toy when you’re at the beach.
3. Scraper Tool
Another affordable must-have. When I lived in Florida, which is where I grew up, someone I knew took a road trip north. Of course, it didn’t get icy overnight where we were from, but it did where they ended up. Since they didn’t normally have ice scrapers in their car in Florida, when they got to their destination in Michigan they didn’t have one–and woke up to an iced-over car. Needless to say, they went out and bought one, but it would have been a whole lot less hassle if they’d had one to start with!
4. Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are a car kit basic anytime, but especially if you’re traveling in Winter Wonderland. Did you know that some old car batteries don’t like to start when it’s freezing? It does happen. Get the jumper cables, and then make sure you know how to use them before you head out.
5. Crank Flashlight
I don’t have this exact flashlight but I have one in a different color that’s set up with all the components just like this one. I love it. I have one in my house readily accessible and one in my car emergency kit. The great thing about these is you never have to worry about whether you’ve got fresh batteries or not, which I never remembered to check. Battery-operated flashlights may be brighter, but they won’t also play the radio.
6. Wool Blanket
Wool blankets are great to have in your car because they stay warm and shed water or other moisture, even when they are wet (this one is half poly fiber but that still works great and is a lot more affordable than 100% wool). If you have a breakdown, you’ll be glad you have this large (51″ x 80″) blanket that is big enough to cover a lot of people. If someone is cold in the hotel room, get this and add it to their bed. Plus, it has a comforting weight that most hotel bed linens are lacking. [Currently on sale for half price]
7. Beeswax Hand Cream
Some people’s hands really take a beating in cold, dry weather. You can use something like Gold Bond cream, but that kind of hand cream is made from petroleum and chemicals. Speaking as someone who makes their own creams, chapsticks, and lotions, beeswax is much more healing and long-lasting than petroleum-based creams. It’s even better if you can make your own (literally, you just need two ingredients for the most basic versions: beeswax and oil) but if you can’t, Burt’s Bees is a company you can trust.
8. Wool Socks
The same reasons that a wool blanket is great is the same reason that wool socks are great . . . your feet stay warm and dry even if your feet get sweaty or a little ice or snow goes down in your boot. This Danish company makes trekking socks in great colors, made out of 33% merino wool in sizes and colors for men and women. This company says their wool is cruelty free and they can trace the wool back to the exact farm in Europe where it comes from.
9. Sun Glasses
When my family and I went to Fairbanks, Alaska, I made a rookie mistake . . . I didn’t take sunglasses. It just didn’t occur to me that I’d need them. But the highways and the roadsides were covered with snow and the bright white was highly reflective. They don’t have to be your most fancy or expensive pair you just need a pair. [Currently on sale]
10. Earmuffs / Hat / Gloves / Scarf
Just in case you don’t already have these things, here’s a way to get them all in one low-price. This package comes with ear muffs, scarf, gloves, and a hat. Earmuffs really are an overlooked winter comfort. If it’s windy, or hey, if you’re sledding, sometimes a hood won’t stay on. Earmuffs cover your ears and help to keep you much more comfortable.
What are your never-leave-home-without items for a winter road trip?