Summer is the time for road trips. When I was a kid, I remember fondly the exciting trips we would take in the summer. My father would pile us all in his Chevy Caprice Classic and drive us to the beach, to lakes for picnics, to the Poconos, to visit family. And he was always prepared with everything we would need. With those nostalgic summer road trips in mind, I’ve create a guide for how to create a summer car kit.

Create a Summer Car Kit

  • Pack a big blanket for inpromptu picnics. You can lay it out on the grass or even on the sand at the beach.
  • Keep a waterproof cloth in your trunk in case you end up buying more plants, which I am inclined to do at a moment’s notice. Set it out to avoid any soil or water spillage. I reuse old vinyl table covers for this purpose.
  • Bring a small cooler for keeping cold drinks, picnic food, disinfecting wipes, and sunscreen.
  • A collapsible organizer will help keep small items from rolling around in your trunk.
  • Always have wipes available for cleaning up sticky spills. I also keep Windex wipes in case I need to clean the inside of my windshield. Ever get that sticky film from a day at the beach? Just wipe it off.
  • I always keep a hat, sunscreen, and an umbrella in my car for unexpected conditions.
  • Create a summer music playlist to get you in the mood for summertime fun.

As you may already know, I spent 15 years working as an automotive journalist. Cars can be so much fun, but it’s important to be safe. Here are a few car care safety tips for car owners.

  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated. Your tires are the only part of your car that communicates with the road. You’ll find the recommended psi for you car’s tires on a sticker inside the driver door jamb.
  • Have your battery tested. When we run the air conditioner regularly, you can run down your battery quicker.
  • Always keep your car’s fluids in order. Check your engine oil, coolant, and windshield cleaner. Be sure your brake, transmission, and power steering fluids are at their correct levels. Get them checked regularly when you get your oil changed.
  • Always keep your emergency supplies up to date: a flashlight with fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, jumper cables, emergency flares or reflectors, some gloves and towels, and duct tape never hurts.

Enjoy your summer. Be safe, be prepared, and as my father used to tell me, always drive defensively.

Note: That’s a picture of me testing a Volkswagen convertible back in the day. Photo by Scott Jacobs for Edmunds.com, Inc.