23 essentials parents should keep in the car


There are a few items every vehicle owner should have stored in the vehicle at all times, such as the owner's manual, a good first-aid kit and a fully equipped tyre changing kit.

As a parent, however, there are a number of extra items which should call your car "home".

The clean up:

1. Tissues: For a snotty nose, drooling mouth or dad's little Monday morning coffee accident.

2. Wet wipes: For some odd reason, some kids see it necessary to examine sweets AFTER putting it in their mouths.

3. Hand sanitiser: Extremely useful for cleaning your hands when soap and water is inaccessible.

4. Plastic bags: The trash needs a place to go as well. Travelling in a messy car can be really unpleasant.

Hunger busters and thirst quenchers:

5. Non-perishable snacks: Cereal bars, potato chips or biltong are great snacks to tide your niggly little ones over until the next pit stop.

6. Water: It's the healthier option, but be sure to keep bottles out of direct sunlight during the trip or invest in a few quality water bottles for your family.

Safety and technology:

7. Reflective vest: Changing a tyre on a dark road or a busy highway is extremely dangerous and unpleasant. You need to be visible to other drivers.

8. Battery booster pack: This nifty device charges or boosts your car battery. Newer vehicles may not be able to use it, seeing that some batteries are inaccessible. For those who can use it, you only need to make sure the device is charged before you take to the road.

9. Fire extinguisher: Whether it's for yourself or for someone else, it's always useful to have this strapped down in the back of your car. Be sure to enquire about the type of extinguisher you purchase, along with the maintenance or service plan and the time frame it needs to be done in.

10. Window breaking and seat belt cutting tool: Once again, if it's for yourself or someone else, it's handy to have this tool in your vehicle. Another item commonly used to shatter glass is the ceramic on a spark plug, but it only performs one of the two functions this tool performs.

11. A headlamp and a torch: Why both? The torch is for the passengers in the car and the headlamp is for the person who needs both hands available in any emergency situation.

12. A rain poncho: Have you ever tried changing a tyre while holding an umbrella? It's a nightmare!

13. Power banks and cell phone chargers: We've become dependent on technology. It makes our lives easier, but it wouldn't do that if the devices are out of battery power. Keep a charger for your phones in the car, but also keep a couple of power banks as extra back-up, just in case your car battery is flat too. Don't forget to recharge the power banks once you reach your destination.

14. A map book: Yes, a good, old-fashioned map book. Sometimes GPS devices do not give an accurate picture of where you need to be heading. The weather could be awful and the satellite connection is poor, or the device is simply out of battery power and you forgot the charging unit at home.

15. Duct tape and cable ties: When something is loose or falls off, but it needs to stay attached, these two items are most helpful in these situations.

The back-ups:

16. A second, fully stocked, baby bag: For parents with babies, this is useful. Especially when baby has had an accident or an upset tummy and you've run out of clothing and nappies.

17. A jacket, a change of clothing and comfortable walking shoes: This applies to all members of the family. It gets cold when the sun goes down, accidents happen and walking to the fuel station in fancy shoes (and sometimes clothing) is not comfortable at all!

18. Emergency cash: Many people prefer to use their cards instead of having a lot of cash in their wallets or handbags, but sometimes cash is required. You may be in the middle of the dorp, the store doesn't have card facilities and the closest ATM is 35 kilometres away.

19. Notepad and pen: You may have two smartphones, a tablet and every other conceivable digital devices, but if the batteries are flat, these devices are as useful as a broken brick. If you need to jot down a registration number or someone's details, a notepad and a pen (or pencil) is a tad more reliable.

20. Blankets and a couple towels: Blankets are for heat and towels are to mop up the variety of wetness you will encounter while travelling.

21. Fuel canister: There are different colour canisters for different types of fuel. You may not see the need for one, seeing that many cars give a little jingle when your car starts using the "fuel reserves", but when you're on a road trip, you may not be able to gauge as accurately as you would like to believe. Also, fuel stations may be few and far between.

Entertaining the kids:

22. Portable DVD devices or movies on the mobile devices: All kids have their favourite shows and movies. Let them plug a headset into one of these devices to entertain them for a couple hours. If you have two kids and only one mobile device, many establishments sell audio splitters. You plug the splitter into your mobile device and this allows for two headsets to be plugged into the splitter.

23. Toys and books: Along with their favourite shows and movies, kids also have their favourite toys and books. Let them choose a few to take along for the ride. You could also make an art kit for your kids, where they can draw and colour in.

There are quite a number of items on this list; making sure you have everything can be quite tedious and pricey, but like the cliché says: it's better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.

Which items are essentials for you? Would you keep all these items in your car? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts by emailing chatback@parent24.com.

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