Must-Have College Car Supplies
We often butt heads with our parents during our teenage years; it isn't until we've spent four years (or five or six) away at college that we realize how good we had it living at home.
If there was a problem with your car, for instance, you could just call your parents. If you needed someone to get the emissions checked, change the oil, update the registration or pay for your speeding ticket, we all knew where to turn. OK, maybe they weren't that lenient, but our parents were there for us in just about any emergency.
Now that you're far from home, it's time to prepare yourself for the uncertainties that come along with driving a car. Here are some items that can get you out of some of the more common car-related jams.
- Windshield scraper/shovel: Depending on where your alma mater is located, these may be essential winter tools. Your car won't be moving until spring if a blizzard hits and the only scraping tools you have are your hands.
- Jumper cables: It seems as if someone always has jumper cables — except the person who needs them. Stop mooching and get your own!
- Car manual: While most people never read them, these immense booklets can educate you on fun features (like how to get at your spare tire) and contain important step-by-step guides.
- License/registration/insurance: These are the bare essentials; being caught without one or all of these could result in a large fine or license suspension.
- First-aid kit: A first-aid kit packed with things like gauze, scissors, Band-Aids, aspirin and cleansing wipes. Pack your own or buy one meant for auto emergencies.
- Flashlight and extra batteries: Your car can be a deep abyss; sandwiches, wallets, iPods and shoes can go missing for weeks under the seats, but a flashlight helps locate these items. It's also extremely handy if you have to change a tire at night. Important: Do not lose the flashlight in the car.
- Tire jack: Back in the good old high-school days, charging roadside services to Mom and Dad's credit card may have been fine. But now that they're probably using their retirement funds to pay for your education, learning how to change a tire is essential — and maybe then they'll look the other way when you spend the money you saved on those roadside services on beer.
- Road map/navigation system: Whether it's an in-dash system or a plug-and-play one you can carry with you, these can be lifesavers in unfamiliar cities. Just don't store a portable nav system in your car or you might end up with a broken window and no system.
- Phone charger: It's pretty tricky to check in with your folks (or call AAA) with a dead cell phone.
- Blanket: Blankets come in handy in numerous situations; impromptu picnics, staying warm in the car should you run out of gas or have mechanical problems, sleeping in the car, and covering valuable items when you make a pit stop.
- Umbrella: It always rains when you have to dress up, and there's no doubt it will rain if you forget your umbrella. Defy the weather and keep one in your trunk; soaked-through clothing and wet hair don't offer the best first impression on a job interview or date.
- Sunglasses: Aside from luring customers anxious to keep up on short-lived trends, sunglasses help block glare and protect your eyes from sun damage.
Road Trip Must-Haves
As movies have taught us, our cars will break down on a road trip, and we will be out in the middle of nowhere (usually a desert or cornfield) with little to no mobile signal.
- Flares: If you have to change your tire at night or in the rain, flares offer some much-needed visibility for passing cars.
- Water and snacks: Funyuns might sound good while you're at the gas station, but no one will talk to you by the end of that bag. Prior to your trip, stock up on water and dried fruits or nuts that aren't covered in salt, honey or chocolate, and you'll have lasting fuel and hydration.
- Oil/wiper fluid/gas: Of course it's always important to maintain your car's fluids, but that's especially true when you're traveling and don't know which mechanics you can trust or how far away the next gas station is.
- Matches: Worst-case scenario: You're stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to make a fire, but at least you remembered your matches!
- Cash: It's always important to have some cash on you. Though it often seems like everything can be purchased with plastic, there are still gas stations and restaurants that take nothing but cash, and their ATM is probably broken.
- Compass: Whether one is conveniently located in your rearview mirror or you have to buy a keychain compass, they come in handy when you're lost and don't have a navigation system.