10 Essentials for Your Road Trip Checklist

Road trips can sometimes be filled with awful surprises ranging from a flat tyre to breaking down on the side of the road at a time your cell phone’s battery is about to “die”.

I compiled road trip checklist of the top ten essentials that you should always keep in your car, which should help you to get out of your predicament quickly.

1. Jumper Cables

There are few things that come close to that awful feeling where you jump into your car, ready to leave – and it will not start. You try and try, but cannot bring your engine to life. Keep a pair of jumper cables in your car at all times. Count yourself lucky if you never have to use them. You never know, you might be someone else’s saving grace.

2. Spare Tyre Kit

You’ve discovered that your tyre has a puncture, it’s pouring with rain and you need to fix it. You pull over, and slosh through the mud to your trunk – only to discover that you forgot to inflate your spare tyre. It is important to make sure that your spare wheel kit is in good condition and that you have all of the necessary tools with which to change your tyre. This includes a jack, wrench and of course, a spare tyre. When checking the pressure of your tyres, look out for any bulges, rips or bald spots. Remember to check your spare wheel too.

3. Self-Charging Torch

For those who fear getting stranded in the dark, a self-charging torch is essential. Besides assisting you to not crush your fingers while trying to change your tyre in the dark, it can also be handy to warn traffic if you have broken down in a spot where it’s difficult to see a stationary vehicle.

4. First Aid Kit

Expect the best, prepare for the worst’ is why it’s important to ensure that you have a fully stocked first aid kit in your car at all times. Not only can it come in handy when you’re trying to ward off motion sickness but it is an essential tool for handling any minor accidents. Double-check that it is fully stocked and contains a manual.

5. Reflective Emergency Triangle

Not only is it handy, but by law, all South African car owners and users should have a reflective emergency triangle. A breakdown in busy traffic can be disastrous if you do not place the triangle at least 45 metres from your vehicle. There are no excuses when it comes to packing an emergency triangle – it is thin, compact and hassle-free to pack into the corner of your trunk.

6. Phone Charger

On a good day, a flat cell-phone battery can cause monumental levels of frustration. On a bad day, breaking down with no way to contact or call anyone can push one over the edge. Before you get into the car, ensure that you have a car charger in your cubby hole. This will avoid any nervous breakdowns that can be triggered by a flat battery.

7. Roadside Emergency Contact Details

Whether you’ve got it shoved into your cubby hole or stuck to one of your windows, roadside emergency contact details are imperative. Not only will this prevent you from spending the night along the side of the road, it will offer you peace of mind in the case of a severe emergency.

8. Map Book or GPS

In many cases, our cell phones act as reliable GPS devices. That is until we lose the connection and are left driving around in circles. A satellite GPS and map book is ideal for anyone who regularly travels the South African roads.

9. Emergency Kit

Different to a first aid kit, an emergency kit will ensure that you are prepared for the most extreme and bizarre events. Ensure that you have a small gym bag that can be kept in your trunk with the following items:

  • An extra set of clothing,
  • Towels and blanket,
  • A fire extinguisher,
  • An umbrella, and
  • An extra pair of comfortable shoes.

10. Owner’s Manual

There is nothing more confusing than pushing a multitude of buttons and knobs when trying to de-mist your windscreen in the pouring rain, or when a little light pops up on your dashboard and you have no idea how to decipher it. The solution? Ensure that your owner’s manual is always in your car. Keep it in a place that is most accessible to you, be it your cubby hole or in the side of your door.

If you run through this road trip checklist and realise that you are missing something, ensure that you place it in your car as soon as you can.