What’s In Your Trunk?

A well-known TV ad always asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  Every year we get reports of motorists stranded along the road because of weather conditions.  All across the nation,  reports of icy roads, blizzard conditions and just plain nasty weather are bringing cars to a standstill.  Everybody knows someone who has spent an unscheduled stop either at roadside, in the ditch or a prolonged “rest” stop.  I’m sure this story is repeated dozens of times every year all across the nation.

Some folks fare better than others.  Some are prepared, many are not.  I have had occasion to discuss being “travel prepared” with a few folks.  Invariably they ask me for a list of items to carry.

Here are ten items I recommend:

  1. A blanket.  Try to find one that has its own carry bag.  That will help keep it clean and in some cases, dry.  Remember wool retains its insulating properties even when wet.

  2. Warm clothes.  Sweatshirt, heavy socks, maybe a pair of long johns.

  3. Snack food.  Protein/granola bars, a jar of peanut butter, a few bottles of water.

  4. First aid kit.  Band-aids are always in style, along with some vaseline, and antibiotic ointment.

  5. Cell phone charging cable.  Get the kind that plugs into your cigarette lighter or USB charge port.  Then leave it in your car.

  6. Flashlight/headlamp.  Spare batteries are always a good idea.  I find if you leave batteries in a flashlight for several months corrosion happens.

  7. Tow strap.  If you simply slide off the pavement and need a little assistance, a tow strap will come in very handy.  Now all you need is a good Samaritan with a four wheel drive pickup. Or if you are a good Samaritan with a four wheel drive, you can be a hero.

  8. A deck of cards or an activity book to keep the kids occupied.   Maybe even a book of crossword puzzles to keep yourself occupied.

  9. Jumper cables.  Everyone should have a set anyway.  Again, you can be someone’s hero.

  10. Small, folding shovel.  Maybe you need to toss a few shovelfuls of sand under your tires or move a bit of snow.

I’m sure you can think of more, or for your particular situation your needs may differ.  There are always the fire-starting items, candles, matches, cookpot to heat water for those Mountain House meals, diapers and the list can go on until your trunk is full.

One very good rule is to keep your gas tank above the “half” mark.  It costs no more to run on the top half of your tank than the bottom half.  And when you’re sitting in sub-freezing weather along the road awaiting rescue, it’s nice to know you’re not going to run out of gas. In fact, it’s a good plan to run your engine for ten minutes every hour with the heater on.  Then shut off the engine to conserve fuel.  Remember it is usually best to stay with your car.  FEMA’s website ( recommends staying with your car unless you can see shelter or a safe location nearby.  If you must travel, remember to let someone know your destination and your planned route.  Then when you arrive, be sure to notify your friends of your safe arrival.  That’s what pilots call a flight plan.

As always send your questions and comments to  Previous columns can be found on my blog at  Dave Robinson is author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.