With driving there is an element of the unexpected. You never know when you may face a traffic jam, a flat tyre or adverse weather, so it’s best to be prepared. Pop these essentials in your car boot and you’ll be ready – hopefully you’ll never need them!
It almost goes without saying, but a torch is an absolute essential to store in the car boot (or better still, in the glove compartment) in case of a breakdown after dark. Not only will it help with checking under the bonnet, but it also means passing motorists will spot you more easily – but don't forget to keep some spare batteries close by.
We’d recommend a hardy Maglite, as favoured by US police forces. You can pick up a water resistant, corrosion proof and shockproof Maglite from Argos from around £15.
Portable phone charger
A breakdown, accident or road closure can be stressful enough without your phone running out of juice when you need it the most. It's a good idea to keep a portable charger handy in case you need to call for assistance from the roadside, look up how to change a tyre or check your GPS.
We’d suggest a Veho Pebble, which can provide enough power to charge a smartphone twice, and is small and lightweight enough to carry. Veho Pebbles can be found from around £20 online.
Water and snacks
It's a good idea to keep something non-perishable in the car (preferably within easy reach) for those occasions when a motorway starts to resemble a car park, or you've got a long wait for a recovery vehicle ahead. Bottled water or a flask with your favourite hot drink, chocolate bars and crisps are the obvious choices for a quick energy boost, but if you prefer healthier options, breakfast bars will keep and they’ll stop the hunger pangs, too.
High visibility jacket and emergency warning triangle
Simple but important, every car boot should contain these. In fact, it’s compulsory to carry both of these items in your car in a number of European countries, including France and Spain.
If you don’t have an emergency warning triangle, they’re easy to get hold of and won’t break the bank – Tesco and Amazon sell them for less than £5. Similarly with high-visibility clothing, there are a number of options ranging from simple vests to warmer long sleeved fleeces and bomber jackets. Halfords sell a hi-vis hooded poncho for £5, while GBdriver.co.uk have a reflective vest and warning triangle set for a little over £6.
Ice scraper and de-icer
If you're about to set off on a long drive home for Christmas, have an ice-scraper and de-icer ready in case you need to stop along the way. This leads us to…
Screen wash & antifreeze
Another staple for your car boot kit. Running out of washer fluid in the middle of your journey is far from ideal, so it's a good idea to make sure you've got a top up ready in the boot just in case you need it. If it's not ready-mixed, make sure you've got some anti-freeze too, to prevent the jets from clogging and the windscreen from freezing.
Halfords sell a winter essentials kit containing everything you need for £10 – so you can tick off ice scraper, de-icer, screen wash and anti-freeze in one go!
A snow shovel
We've all heard the stories of motorists becoming stuck in freezing conditions, so you may find you're very glad to have a snow shovel at the ready. B&Q have a handy collapsible snow shovel which is perfect for easy in-the-boot storage, and it costs less than £10. However if the weather is really bad, it's best to avoid travelling altogether.
Warm, dry clothing
If the worst happens and you do become stuck in snow and ice, experience a breakdown on a rainy day or get splashed by a passing car while you're trying to change a tyre, you may be very glad of some extra layers – especially if you've still got a long way to go! A dry pair of (thermal) socks, warm boots and a spare jumper could go a long way.