Vehicle Travel Preparedness for Parents

As the summer travel season draws to a close in much of the United States, many parents cannot help but reflect on their various vacation attempts and accomplishments over the past few months.  Fortunately for Seattleites, King County’s departments, agencies and offices ( have also worked to provide easily implementable solutions to lessen citizen concerns about regular traveling, especially during an unexpected vehicle emergency.

This blog focuses on advice relating to the preparation and storage of necessary supplies during a potentially stressful travel-related event (e.g., car accident, traffic gridlock, non-functioning vehicle).  Co-op parent, Lisa McCluskey, not only relates her personal experiences below when creating a “Travel Preparedness Kit,” but also hopes that the steps outline in this article will assist other parents in feeling confident to tackle this often challenging topic.

Research industry best practices of personal/family travel.  On three separate occasions during my son’s inaugural year of co-op preschool, I found myself in unexpected emergency situations: twice when my SUV was hit by another driver (see image included in this blog) and once when he needed to go to the emergency room after tripping at a local holiday celebration.  Because of this, I always keep a personal backpack full of items we would both need if a travel-related emergency occurred plus, I store a smaller purse-sized tote in a second accessible place (in case I am unable to use my primary supplies).

King County’s website offers all of us a variety of helpful planning options in case of an emergency (  As a first line of personal vehicle preparedness, all drivers should thoroughly service their car, truck, RV and/or trailer regularly before hitting the road.  In addition, every individual that would be potentially riding in your vehicle (humans and pets) not only should always be completely secured per federal, state and local laws, but also have had emergency supplies packed for them in advance of travel.

What items have you chosen to include in own household’s “Travel Preparedness Kit”? I have included in this blog a list detailing the items in our family’s supply backpack that is kept with us at all times and/or independently stored in our vehicle:

  • water and non-perishable snacks;
  • games, books and crayons;
  • first aid kit, medications and sunscreen;
  • cleaner, disinfectant and towel;
  • electronic device chargers/cords; AND a
  • complete change of weather-resistant clothes.

All items fit in a standard 25-30L (Liter) foldable outdoor daypack (suitable for light hiking, backpacking, running and camping).  I replace it due to wear a few times per year and have never paid more than $20 for any one I am currently using.  Additionally, depending on your own family’s travel plans, you may wish to also consider always having quick access to:

  • extra cash (in local currency),
  • roadside emergency reflectors,
  • basic tools (e.g., screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers),
  • jumper cables, car jack, and spare tire.

Be safe, organized and aware of your surroundings when out and about daily.  For more information on what King County, WA recommends regarding personal and family travel preparedness (including for adults, kids and pets), please visit:


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