Hopefully, all your adventures get along without incident, but in case you have a setback, it’s important to be prepared. Here’s a kit you can put together to mitigate travel emergencies whether you fly or drive:
In the Trunk
Road trips generally allow for a broader packing list. The extra room makes it easy to squeeze in a few extras here and there.
Flashlight & Extra Batteries — Test it out to be sure the batteries work, especially if you haven’t used the flashlight recently.
Pepper Spray — I’ve never had to use my pepper spray, thankfully, but I’ve carried it for years. You probably won’t have to use it, either, but if you’re traveling alone, there’s peace of mind in knowing you have it, just in case.
Duct Tape — This universal fix-it item handles a wide range of repairs; you don’t want to leave home without it.
Knife — Good for slicing salami or splintering kindling to start a fire. A good pocketknife will get you out of a bind.
Rope/Twine — Will work to fasten the dangling side-view mirror in place or replace a busted shoelace, among other things.
Tire Repair Tools/Jumper Cables — These items may be obvious, but don’t take it for granted that they’re always in your trunk. It’s easy to forget you lent them to a friend months ago.
Emergen-C — Being kicked by a cold while traveling is the worst. Stay healthy and energized with these pocket-sized packets. This stuff is my number one travel must-have.
Activated Charcoal — I don’t go very far without this, either. Great for indigestion and hangovers, charcoal absorbs and eliminates toxins.
Pain Reliever — You don’t want to endure a piercing headache when you’re driving long distances in bright sunlight.
First Aid Items — Toss alcohol swabs, anti-itch cream, and a few Band-Aids from your medicine cabinet into a plastic sandwich bag if you don’t want to purchase a pre-made kit.
Hand/Foot Warmer Packets — They’re small and fit easily in small spaces, but if you get stranded in winter they’ll make a big difference.
Extra Phone Charger/Battery Enhancer — A dead cell is frustrating enough, but if you’re stuck in an unfamiliar place without a working phone, it can also be frightening. If it happens once, you won’t want it to happen again.
Lightweight Blanket, Flat Sheet, and Travel Pillow — If you’re taking a long trip, these items may already be on your packing list, but you might find you need them on a short trip as well.
Water & Snacks — Go with non-perishables like granola bars, nuts, and trail mix and at least a gallon of water.
Baby Wipes — Dirt, sand, grease, or sticky: wipes make messy moments happier for everyone. They’ll even work in lieu of a bath, if necessary.
Sharpie Pen & Paper — Leave a note, write down directions, or create a label on the fly. These simple items come in handy when you least expect it.
Bottle of Wine — When you take a wrong turn and arrive at your destination later than expected, you’ll be a hero for packing the spare bottle.
Cork Screw/Bottle Opener — It’s easy to forget, but don’t let that shining moment fade quickly by leaving this behind.
Chocolate — Don’t forget your favorite chocolate bar. It will help calm you in any emergency.
In the Carry-on
Not only do you have less room for extras in the carry-on, but you also have to keep in mind all the TSA rules concerning what can fly in the overhead bin.
Flashlight — Forget about the bulky, full-sized kind. Go with a mini flashlight; even a key-chain style will do.
Fingernail Clippers — These can fill-in for scissors, in some instances, or a knife in a real pinch.
Cash — It’s so easy these days to carry debit and credit cards and leave the cash in the bank, but when you’re far from home and the plastic gets denied, it will ruin your day.
Passport/Phone Numbers — Who memorizes phone numbers anymore? In case your phone dies, make sure you have your emergency contacts written down and laminated. Also, take along photo copies of your passport and keep them in a separate place. Additionally, email a scanned copy to yourself and a loved one as a precaution.
Emergen-C — A boost of energy your immune system will thank you for when coughing seat-mates and stale airplane air leave you susceptible to germs.
Activated Charcoal — Queasy stomach from foreign food? Food poisoning? Keep it within reach.
Medications — Dramamine, ibuprofen, throat lozenges; don’t let minor aches and pains slow you down.
Band-Aids — No need to take the whole box, just toss in a few. Blisters are brutal.
Travel-sized Towelettes — Stay clean and sanitary without the annoyance of trying to locate running water.
Scarf/Sarong — A versatile piece of lightweight cloth can take the hassle out of clothing inconveniences.
Ziploc Baggies — You never know when you’ll get caught in the rain. Slip your cell, passport, and other non-waterproof items in a baggie to avoid disaster.
Corkscrew Without Blade — You’ll have to purchase the wine when you arrive, but you won’t have to search for a way to open it.
Travel-sized Hand Lotion & Lip Balm — A long flight (or even a short one) can take its toll on your skin. Lotion and lip balm are two quick and easy ways to look and feel refreshed as soon as you hit the ground.
Oil-blotting Tissues — Recycled air, sitting close to other people, and sleeping with your mouth open can leave you feeling oily in the face. If you don’t have powder — or don’t wear powder — take the shine away and you’ll be freshened up in a flash.
Photo credits: little peppercorn, jetalone, adam241180, ilovemypit, Uncalno, nathangibbs, veralu, Emergen-C Facebook page, wizan, and swerk.