Though it might seem strange to your average traveler, there are some among us who feel a bit incomplete if they head out on a road trip (or even down the street!) without their favorite tools. Whether it’s the desire to be prepared for the unexpected, or simply to have some useful tools on hand in case we can help friends or family, we simply feel better having what’s needed in order to get the job done.
In my ideal world, I would bring my full portfolio of tools and gadgets along for a road trip, but my family doesn’t really want to travel in a large paneled van (as they’re rather unattractive and lacking in many creature comforts). Hence, I had to pare down to the absolute essentials.
Before You Begin
Since you’re driving to your destination, you have more latitude than you might imagine – especially if you’re an expert at packing your vehicle. Start off by bringing the necessary tools to fix your average automotive problem. Then, determine in advance if the people you’re visiting will need any help from you when you arrive, as this will help you bring only what you need. And don’t forget to bring the good tools inside when you get to your destination!
With that aside, keep the following tools in mind for a good old-fashioned road trip.
- 3/8” and 1/2” socket wrenches (including standard and metric sockets, as well as the larger sockets required by your specific make of vehicle (both for your engine and in the cabin)
- A hammer (12 oz or larger)
- A complement of screwdrivers, including long handled and torque screwdrivers, as well as smaller detail screwdrivers
- A bit driver
- A box set of bit drivers (slotted, Philips, torque, Robertson, hex, etc.), along with extenders and socket adapters, as well as high strength drill bits
- A cordless hammer drill and impact driver
- A small pry bar, a large pry bar, and console removal tools
- An assortment of pliers in a variety of sizes: needle-nose, lineman’s, slip-joint, cutting/snipping, channel lock, locking, and detail
- Sheet metal cutters, as well as sheet metal screws (in case you have to reattach something because you weren’t watching for a curb)
- A cordless reciprocating saw with a variety of blades
- A low voltage capable non-contact voltage tester
- Jack stands
- Bright, cordless work lights
- A pick set (sometimes called dental picks at hardware stores)
- A digital inspection scope
- An assortment of hose clamps and repair adhesives
- An assortment of clamps
- Safety equipment (glasses, road markers, gloves, etc.)
- A well-kept spare tire
Now, I can hear many of you thinking, “This list is a bit overboard!” But trust me – I’ve learned from experience that each tool has something to offer, and frankly, it’s really hard to fix a loose muffler with just a screwdriver. Well, unless you happen to be MacGyver, in which case, you probably don’t even need this post.
Enjoy your road trip!