checking the microphone and webcam

What useful things do you keep in your car in general or in case of an emergency

1. A physical map

Remember when you were a kid and the A to Z map of the great British Isles was the pride and joy of the car? It was whipped out during every single journey, and it ensured that no matter where you ended up you could always find your way home.

Well since the rise of maps on phones and in-car sat nav systems we have turned our backs on the trusted physical map.

But it does come in handy to have one in the car just in case you find yourself lost in an area with no reception.


5. Emergency snacks

Avoid making unnecessary pit stops at service stations, or wasting time at a drive-thru by keeping a well stocked selection of snacks in the car.

Cereal bars, biscuits, fruit, crisps and even some sandwiches are a welcome saviour when hunger strikes, or if you are stuck in a long traffic jam.

Center Console or Arm Rest Compartment

Got a console? Load it up with these roadside essentials.

  • Wipes ($15 on Amazon)
  • Extra money, especially change for old-school parking meters.
  • Extra napkins or paper towels
  • Facial tissue
  • Extra sunglasses
  • Paper to write on
  • List of phone numbers to friends or family. Just in case the phone goes missing.
Make sure you can reach your emergency essentials

Make sure you can reach your emergency essentials when road tripping. Photo: Catherine Parker


Pack a few essentials for every day. Add some road trip snacks when headed out for a family trip.

 Related: Tips for choosing road trip snacks. 

Make sure your family is prepared for an emergency

Make sure your family is prepared for an emergency. Photo: Catherine Parker

17. A case of 64 purified emergency water pouches with a shelf life of five years that you can keep in your car in case of an emergency when there’s no other water source around

amazon.com Promising review: “This is something you hope you never have to use. I keep some in each of the cars in case of emergency. The stated shelf life is five years, which is good. They are expensive and not intended to be kept as your main emergency supply at your home. Pick up some gallon bottles when on sale at the grocery store for that. If you have the room get some 55-gallon barrels. Better to have more than not enough! Keep these in your car or boat where you can leave them and not have to rotate them for five years.” —Chris Get it from Amazon for $36.89.

28. A portable solar panel charger so you’ll never be caught in the middle of a dicey situation with a dead phone battery. I’m sure you can think of multiple horror films where this gadget would’ve been handy

Amazon Promising review: “Charged quickly, held its charge for a long time, the flashlight is VERY bright, and it withstood the water-resistance test when it fell in a stream while I was out camping. It’s a little slow to charge on solar, but does work. It’s best to charge at an outlet or electrical source.” —JL Get it from Amazon for $23.99.

Winter Accessories to Have on Hand

While not essential, there are numerous other items that might be worth keeping around just in case. You never know what might be useful, so here are the top things that online driver reviews suggest you keep around:

  • Things to keep your car clean, such as paper towels in case of a spill, windshield washer fluid, or even some polish
  • In winter, it definitely helps to keep a blanket or jacket in the car, and a foldable shovel might come in handy if you ever find yourself snowed in
  • Similarly, if a sudden downpour should hit, you’ll thank yourself for packing an umbrella or a raincoat
  • Some emergency food supplies might come in handy if you break down overnight. High-calorie food that provides a lot of energy is your best bet, but be sure to pack some bottles of water, too.

Essential Car Snacks

Forgetting snacks whilst on a road trip can create sheer havoc in the car! If there is one thing that can settle an on-road dispute, its a well stocked snack box. Here are some key things to keep in your car to avoid overpaying at gas stations

  • Plenty of drinking water
  • Healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds and protein bars
  • Sweets and candy
  • Beef jerky
  • Your favorite flavoured chips
  • Energy drinks

The Comfort List

This list of items will ensure you stay comfortable in the car on any journey!

  • Blankets
  • Neck pillows
  • Lumbar back support
  • Sunglasses
  • Air freshener
  • Padded seat covers
  • Awesome foot mats

A key item that I never hit the road without is this Lumbar Back Support. I suffer from lower back pain whilst driving and this helps me maintain a better seated position


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Documents to keep at home

Sale documents

Since you don’t need your bill of sale, transfer of ownership or certificate of inspection to drive you should keep all of these pieces of paper out of your car and in a safe place. These items are proof that you own the car and that it’s safe to be on the road.

If you ever want to sell your vehicle you’ll need to provide the new owner with these documents. Make duplicates, store them separately and keep digital versions on file.

Maintenance Records

It’s also not necessary to keep your maintenance records in your vehicle — for the sake of a clean car, it’s best to file those receipts as soon as you get home from the mechanic. Maintenance records can help you predict when it’s time for a tune up or an oil change.

Don’t get caught driving without the necessary documents and keep vital ownership information far away from your car.

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Category 2: Emergency and Safety Equipment

Here’s a quick reference list of the items you may need:

  • First aid kit.
  • Emergency escape tool.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Flashlight
  • Multi-function tool.
  • Matches or an alternative fire starter.
  • Energy bars.
  • Water bottles.
  • Maps.
  • Reflective triangle.
  • Gas can.
  • Tire traction mat.

You could check out our guide to the best car emergency kits for collections of all the items you may need in one handy kit, or you can choose to seek out the pieces individually.

Let’s look at each item in detail to see what they are used for and why you should have them in your car:

First Aid Kit

You can buy a pre-assembled first aid kit for your vehicle. This will include a wide array of items to cover many different emergency situations.

Be sure to store this in an easily accessible location within your car, just in case you need quick access to it.

Emergency Escape Tool

We don’t wish it on anyone, but in case of an accident, you don’t want to get trapped in your vehicle. You need to have a tool to cut your seatbelt and/or break a window to get out fast.

Make sure you keep it where you can reach it easily from the driver’s seat.

Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is a must-have item since vehicles can easily catch fire during an accident, or if leaks and components failures occur.

We would advise to source one of the best car fire extinguishers you can find, always keep it within reach. Make sure to prioritize your safety and that of passengers, before the car.

Car Flashlight

Most modern phones have a light, but it’s still a good idea to keep a flashlight handy in your vehicle to cover the times You may be stranded in a dark, isolated place with a dead mobile phone!

Make sure it’s always fully charged. Keep spare batteries too if the flashlight requires them.

Alternatively, a manually-charged flashlight can be a great solution. These require you to manually wind a handle in order to generate a charge for power.

Multi-Function Tool

These are improved versions of the classic Swiss army knife. Depending on the situation, you may need a variety of tools.

The good thing is that multi-function tools are compact in size, contain everything from screwdrivers, pliers and a knife, to scissors and even spanners and tweezers.

Matches or an Alternative Fire Starter

Matches, a lighter or an alternative fire starter can come in handy, and not only to light a cigarette. You may need to keep yourself warm or signal for help.

Energy Bars

Hopefully, no matter the emergency you won’t be stranded for long, but it’s always better to have some non-perishable food with you in case no help reaches you for many hours or even days.

Energy bars and other such items can keep for a long time and come in handy if you’re stranded far from civilization.

Water Bottles

Water is even more important than food if you are stranded.

Experts advise keeping at least a case of drinking water in your trunk. You’ll be glad you thought of this beforehand, especially if the weather is very hot.

Local Maps

Even if everyone uses their cell phones now, you may be stranded somewhere with no signal.

An old-fashioned map will never leave you high and dry. Make sure to take a map of the local area you’re visiting.

Reflective Triangle

This breakdown tool is for when your vehicle dies on the side of the road, to alert other road users of your situation.

If you cannot move your car to a safer spot, put the reflective triangle down as per the included instructions. It should be far enough behind your vehicle to alert other drivers and prevent them from hitting your car.

Some kits come with three reflective triangles. They’re to be placed at 10, 100 and 200 feet from the rear of your vehicle for extra safety.

Gas Can

Gasoline is highly flammable, and its fumes are toxic. But if you’re driving very long distances in places where service stations are rare, you may need extra gas.

Just make sure the can is perfectly closed and doesn’t leak. Also, never keep it inside your car, not even in the trunk. The safest place is on the car rack on the top of your vehicle. This way, you will not suffer any consequences from inhaling gasoline fumes.

For standard car users though, keeping an empty can in your trunk is a good idea so you can hitch a lift or walk to the nearest gas station to get gas if you do run out and your vehicle stops.

Tire Traction Mat

Use it if your vehicle is stuck in mud or snow and the traction from the tires is not sufficient to move.

Just place it in the path of your tires to free your car. Don’t accelerate too much, a little bit of gas will be enough to get unstuck.

It’s also helpful to know that you can replace this with cat litter, sand or cardboard if in a pinch.

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen that to be prepared for any situation when driving, there is a long list of things to keep in your car. You need to think ahead and pack them before they’re needed, so they can you help you in emergencies.

We’ve given you four main categories of items above, from vehicle repairs to safety and personal hygiene products.

We’ve also explained in detail when and how to use each item. We’ve got you covered in any driving related emergency, from basic first aid to extreme weather conditions.

Always better to be safe than sorry!

Some of you will likely have some more items in your car that you find indispensable. What do you always take with you that you cannot do without? Let us know in the comments section below. Also, feel free to ask us if you have any additional questions.


What things are you required by law to keep easily available in your car?

While there are a lot of things you should keep in your car, only a select few are legally essential. You must, at all times while operating a motor vehicle in the USA, have a valid driver’s license, a copy of your car registration, and your car insurance information.

What are the most important things to keep in your car?

A simple beginner’s checklist of things you should always have in your car includes: a car emergency kit with a spare tire and tire-changing tools, a properly stocked first-aid kit as well as your medical information in the event that paramedics need to rescue you, legal documentation such as your license and registration, a fire extinguisher, and emergency contact info in case you lose your phone and need to call for help.

How do you keep things cool in your car?

The best way to keep things inside your car cool, is to keep your entire vehicle cool. There are some pretty simple ways to do this, as well as a few life hacks you may want to consider. Firstly, be sure to avoid parking in direct sunlight whenever possible. Covering your dash and steering wheel also helps to keep the ambient temperature down, and using a sunshade or window visor further helps in this regard. You can also rely on a solar-powered fan when on the move, since it won’t draw from the car’s electronics, which can actually increase overall heat instead.

How do you keep things in your car from freezing?

In particularly cold areas of the US, it is actually possible for certain liquids to freeze inside your vehicle. When it comes to the water flowing through your engine, you should be using anti-freeze. However, for bottles of water or other liquids inside your car, you may need to resort to a cooler. Yes, you hear correctly. Coolers are more climate-controlled than a steel box. The plastic maintains the internal temperature far better, especially if you warm it up before storing your food and drinks inside. This will help offset the slow cooling process a bit and prevent your goods from freezing or potentially exploding.

What are the essential things to keep in your car in case of an emergency? In the event of an accident or a breakdown, there are a number of tools and gadgets that can make your life a lot easier. A fire extinguisher will come in handy if you have a particularly explosive accident or your engine overheats to the point of combustion. If you simply have a flat, some sealant and a tire pump might solve the problem, or you can replace the tire with a spare and your tire jack. In either case, a reflective emergency triangle will help steer other motorists away from your vehicle and reduce the risk of further harm. Should you break down in the middle of a blizzard, attaching some colorful material to your car antenna can help emergency teams to locate you, although flares do the job even better. If you live in an area where it can sometimes take days for emergency response teams to reach you, it is imperative that you keep enough non-perishable food and water on board to carry you through.