10 Things to Take on a Winter Road Trip

December found my husband’s and my excursion back to Northern Illinois almost railroaded. We were due to leave on the Tuesday after Christmas, but my two sons called – concerned about us traveling in the ice and snow that was coming down. We watched the weather stations and decided to make the trek despite my children’s concerns.

The roads were clear the whole way, but there was a blanket of snow covering the ground about half way up the state of Illinois. We made it there to celebrate Christmas with my kids and attend a family wedding without incident, and we made it back home without incident.

This morning, we woke to a dusting of snow on our back deck in Middle Tennessee. It made it slippery, and I got to thinking more about traveling during the winter months.

Here are the top 10 things, in no specific order, you should make sure you have with you if you are traveling to a northern state during the winter months.


This may sound a bit obvious, but since it was a beautiful day in Middle Tennessee the day we left, we almost forgot our coats. I had been out doing errands a couple of days earlier in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Some people thought I was a bit off. One lady even said so to the sales person. She was loud enough that I could hear her, so I ventured to explain myself. “You see, 50 degrees in December feels quite warm when you come from a climate where December through March can see temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below zero, and I’ve seen chill temps as low as 50 degrees below zero.”


Again, this may sound obvious, but I remembered my gloves (I had actually brought them with me instead of donating them to Salvation Army.) and my husband had forgotten his. A trip to the store was necessary.


This idea was drilled into my head when I first started driving. God forbid you are in an accident or your vehicle breaks down, but if it does, you can get cold in the winter. Snuggling under a blanket can make the wait for help more bearable.


In the winter, it gets dark early. I try to keep a flashlight in my purse when I travel in the winter. It is especially helpful when getting from the door of wherever you are to the door of your vehicle, and it allows you to see those slippery patches on the ground and, if not avoid them, at least traverse them with caution.


If you travel (especially alone), you really should get yourself a AAA membership. A quick phone call can get you roadside assistance. When my oldest son began to drive back and forth from home to college, we insisted on AAA. It saved us running halfway to college (a two to three hour trip one way) to help him out.


If you get stuck in the snow, if you get stuck on the highway due to an accident, if your vehicle breaks down, bottled water will keep you hydrated.


Not just for winter. If you eat on the fly, you know that the napkins fast food places give you are pretty flimsy, if they remember to put any napkins in the bag. Paper towels can also prove a life saver in a number of ways other than napkins.


Food on the road is expensive as is the food in the vending machines at rest stops. Why not take a bit of extra time when packing to prepare a cooler with some healthy snacks?


Flat tire? Engine trouble? Other problems? These things can cause you to pull over on the side of the road or highway, a place that can be very dangerous. Using flares to alert vehicles coming your way that you are stopped on the side of the road. They also help any tow truck or assistance find you.


If you are stuck along the side of the road, you don’t want to waste gas or kill your battery. The next best thing to running the gas level down or killing the battery is to carry along a battery operated radio with extra batteries.

All in all, if you travel in the winter months, make sure you are prepared for anything to come your way. You probably won’t ever need the things you pack for a potential emergency, but why take the risk.

What items would you add to this list?

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