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Any parent on-the-go knows that there’s a lot more to driving with kids than getting from point A to point B. Parents also know that with kids, almost anything can happen and it’s good to be prepared for the unexpected. That’s why we suggest drivers keep their car equipped with an emergency kit.

You could buy a fully-stocked emergency kit online… for around $50. But why not put one together yourself? It could be cheaper, and a DIY car survival kit will let you customize the contents to the needs of your family.

Here are the things every mom and dad should consider including in their car emergency kit.

Round Up the Car Emergency Kit Basics

First, gather up all the emergency basics. These would come in handy if you were stuck in bad weather or experienced a roadside breakdown.

To get started, check out our car emergency kit checklist, which includes 2 options: a long, comprehensive list and a shorter, more practical list. Select as many or as few of these items as you like, customizing the list to your needs.

You should also have the number of your roadside assistance program saved in your phone and/or keep in your glove box so you can dial it quickly when needed. (Don’t forget an extra phone charger!) This is especially helpful during a breakdown when WiFi or reliable Internet service might not be available. Roadside assistance can include services like a lockout program, jump starts, and 24-hour emergency towing.

Got all the necessities? Now, on to the stuff for the kids.

Gather the Family-Specific Stuff

Get together all the little stress-savers that could make everyday life easier.

  • Baby wipes – So many cleanup uses!
  • Blanket – For temperature-sensitive kiddos
  • Diapers and a change of clothes – For messy little ones while out and about
  • Hair ties – Easy fix for messy morning hair
  • Hand sanitizer – Ward off pesky germs
  • Loose change – For unexpected toll booths or a quick car wash
  • Medicines – Think kid-friendly meds, such as liquid cough medicine, and fever reducers
  • Snacks – Dried fruits and crackers make easy car nibbles
  • Sunscreen – In case of spontaneous outdoor fun!
  • Tissues – For spills and sniffles
  • Trash bags – Buy a car-specific one or put a grocery bag in the backseat

Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff!

Now add the items that make traveling in the car with kids more fun for everyone.

  • Books – With chapters or pictures, library books or personal favorites—you choose!
  • Audiobooks – The whole family can listen! Especially good for kids who get carsick reading
  • Paper and pen – To encourage car trip creativity
  • Travel board games –Get magnetic versions of your favorites like checkers
  • Road trip games – Get a book of or make a list of hands-free games you can play together (think I Spy, 20 Questions, and the License Plate Game)

More Car Trip Tips

We make it our mission to help families stay safe while on the road. Check out our tips for driving safely with kids, choosing the best booster seat, and choosing the right auto insurance coverage for your family.

And, just for fun, check out our ode to both the Daddy Ride and the Mommy Mobile.

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What’s in your car emergency kit, parents? Give us your best tips in the comments below!

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