3 Ways You Can Prepare For Winter Travel

You’ve got the bags packed and loaded into your car for a winter road trip, but could you survive in your vehicle if something were to happen to you?

It happens every winter, thousands of people set out on a road trip and end up stuck in their vehicle for hours, some for days.  They have clothes, electronic devices, toiletries, but nothing that can help them for getting stuck.

Say you blow a tire, run out of gas, or hit a patch of black ice and end up in a ditch on the side of the road.  Don’t let yourself be fooled, these are survival scenarios and having a winter emergency kit in your vehicle can be the difference between life or death.

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Last Christmas, a friend of ours had car trouble traveling from our little village into the city.  Stuck on the side of the road, panic quickly set in with each passing vehicle.  Would you believe not a single vehicle stopped to help them!?

He had to walk a few miles to get cell service before he could make a few calls to find a tow company that was open for rescue.  But what would have happened if he wasn’t able to get service or if no one was open on Christmas to help them?

It’s a scenario that we don’t like to think about, but it’s very real!  And the good news is you CAN prepare for this situation, and you should!

Here are 6 things you can do now to prepare for winter vehicle emergencies.

Vehicle Maintenance

Service your vehicle to make sure the radiator is ready.  Maintain your antifreeze levels and use a winter formula if you live in severely cold climates.

Check your tires.  Replace tires with winter tires, or studded tires.  Ensure that you have good tread and proper tire pressure.

Keep your gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. If you’re traveling long distances, take a gas can with you and make sure it’s full just in case.

Use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer.  Nothing is worse than having to wipe the road muck off your windshield in freezing temperatures because the washer fluid just wants to freeze to the windshield, leaving your line of sight impaired.

Share Your Plans

Let a few different folks know where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and the route you plan to take.  If you’re going on a very long trip, you can map out your fuel and lodging stops as well and share them.  Doing this is your best bet of getting help should you need it.

When I drove through Canada in February to move to Alaska, I left a printout with my sister so she would know where I should be at all times.  I planned each fuel stop throughout the day and each lodging stop for the entire trip.  I called or texted her every time I was expected to be at one of those locations.  She knew if she didn’t hear from me at a specific time exactly where I should be based on our last conversation and the next planned stop.

Along with this information, she had the make, model, year, VIN, and tag number of my vehicle so that if she needed to alert the authorities she had all the information necessary to do so.

Prepare A Winter Emergency Kit For Your Vehicle

This kit should be kept in your vehicle all winter, in case you become stranded. The kit should include:

Cell phone and charging cable.  We all have a cell phone and most of us have an extra charging cable in our vehicles already.  It’s not a bad idea to add an additional charging cable just in case something happens to the one you already have in your vehicle.

Blankets are an important aspect of winter survival, but they can also take up a lot of much-needed space.  We don’t keep a blanket, we have a Tact Bivvy for each of us.  They are extremely lightweight and super compact!  They hold your body heat and keep you warm beyond expectation!

sleeping bag

Food and water are often the most overlooked elements of a great winter emergency vehicle kit.  Most of us have snacks and drinks on a road trip, but you want to make sure you have calorie dense food rations and water, not pop or other caffeine and sugar-laced drink for an emergency situation.

It’s always a good idea to carry booster cables, flares, and a tire pump regardless of the season, but you can add a bag of sand or cat litter for traction should you get into an icy situation.

Gone are the days of MapQuest printouts, today we rely on our electronics to get us where we want to go.  But you need to know how to read a compass and map and you need to carry each in your vehicle.  It’s fine if you want to print them from your computer, but make sure you have a hard copy with you.

You need a flashlight!  We have a flashlight and our headlamps with us everywhere we go in the winter.  It’s a good idea to have a battery-powered radio in case your vehicle won’t run so you can stay attuned with the weather conditions.  Make sure you have enough extra batteries for both the flashlight and the radio.  We change out our batteries every month in the winter because the cold weather makes the batteries die faster.

Another must-have for any weather is a first-aid kit. Don’t skimp here just because you live in town.  A good first-aid kit can be worth its weight in gold!

The last thing you want to have is plastic bags.  These are used for sanitation.  Ever have to go potty on the side of the road?  It’s all fine and dandy until you have to put your used TP somewhere. A plastic bag is all purpose and a few of them are a great addition.


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