It’s time to take a summer road trip.

No matter where the road might be taking you, it’s important that you stock your vehicle with the necessities to make the trip successful.

It’s doubly important when you’re hitting the road in a classic or vintage vehicle that has already seen its share of miles.

Once you’ve changed oil, checked the fluids, inspected the tires, and done all the other pre-trip homework, it’s time to gather all the essentials for your summer road trip. This includes items for both you and your ride.

10 Road Trip Essentials for Your Ride

  • Flashlight/Worklight: Mechanical gremlins don’t sleep, so it’s important to have light in case the need for a nighttime repair arises.
  • Bottle Jack: Half the battle of changing a flat is putting together some of the jacks that come with today’s cars. If you’ve got a vintage vehicle, you may not have a jack at all, so it’s important to carry a space-saving bottle jack in the trunk.
  • Radiator Hose & Clamps: How often have you seen a steaming vehicle on the side of the road? That’s exactly why it’s nice to throw some spare radiator hose and clamps in the trunk.
  • Coolant & Washer Fluid: For the same reason mentioned above, it’s good to have some extra coolant stowed away. And while you’re at it, pick up a jug of washer fluid in case your trip calls for it.
  • Accessory Belts: Another common cause of road trip mechanical issues are frayed or broken accessory belts, especially on older cars and trucks.
  • Socket/Wrench Set: A multi-purpose socket and/or wrench set can save your bacon at the most—and provide peace of mind at the least.
  • Racer’s Tape: You never know when you’ll be forced to MacGyver a repair job. And few things are more versatile than duct tape or Racer’s tape.
  • Auto battery jumper: Who hasn’t been stranded by a dead battery? Don’t let one delay ruin a trip you’ve been planning for months—bring along an auto battery jumper instead.
  • Roadside emergency kit: Safety first. If you’re working on an emergency repair on the side of the road, you’ll be glad you have this kit to alert passing traffic. It includes a freestanding warning triangle, work gloves, jumper cables, and more.
  • Zip Ties: Like duct tape, zip ties have multiple uses you can employ. Whether you need to secure a dangling muffler or move around a few wires during a repair, zip ties can come in extremely handy.

10 Road Trip Essentials for You

  • GPS: These systems have changed the way we travel—even the oldest of the old school would admit that. A good GPS system can help you avoid detours, road construction, and bad traffic. And even help you find attractions like the world biggest ball of twine!
  • Road Map: Having said what we said about GPS, it’s good to have backup. We still like to have an old school road map on hand…you know, in case the grid goes down.
  • First-Aid Kit: Things happen. It’s a good idea to have bandages, pain reliever, ointments, and other first-aid with you at all times.
  • Cooler: Call it a luxury or necessity—it’s just good to have cold beverages with you for the road.
  • Phone Charger: If you’re like the kids these days, you’ll have a full blown panic attack if your cell phone dies. The truth is it’s really good to stay connected in case of emergencies—or in case the supplies listed above can’t bail you out of a bad mechanical situation.
  • Seat Cushion: Comfort is key. Enough said.
  • Sunscreen: This is mainly for convertible owners. However, it also applies to the guy who likes to drive with his left arm hanging out the window. Do you really like having one, mismatched red arm?
  • Tunes: Good tunes are an absolute must for any road trip—see a few suggestions here. So make sure you bring your iPod, MP3 player, Frozen soundtrack—whatever. We won’t judge as long as you have music for the road.
  • Bottled Water: This can be for you—or for your vehicle. If bottled water can get us through Y2K, it can get you through your road trip.
  • Dog Ramps: OK, it’s not really an essential. But if you’re traveling with a canine pal, you’ll want to check out some of the folding dog ramps that are available.

What’d we miss?

Tell us your road trip essentials in the comments section below.

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.