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Winter driving used to only concern the residents of the winteriest places. However, we find winter storms battering Texas and even the Southeast these days. Preparing for weathering a winter storm in your car is not only wise, but it could also be a life-saving decision. With that in mind, here is a list of the essential items you need for your winter road trips this year. 

A lone car driving in a winter storm.
A pickup drives north on I-85 near Braselton, Georgia | Davis Turner/Getty Images

How to prepare for a winter road trip

Before putting together your winter road trip supplies, ensure your car is prepared to keep you safe in the event of winter weather. It is always smart to give your ride a once over before covering any serious mileage, but winter can make preparations even more essential. This short checklist should give you confidence in your car’s ability to keep you safe in the winter. 

Tires: Winter tires can make all the difference if you expect snow or ice. However, if you live somewhere where winter weather is rare, at least make sure your tires have adequate tread, are inflated to the proper tire pressure, and show no signs of any visible damage. 

Battery: Cold temperatures can make a battery struggle. Before taking off on a winter road trip, ensure your battery is strong and in good condition. 

Windshield washer fluid: Winter weather often requires salt on the roads. When mixed with snow and rain, this can create a nasty film on your windshield that obscures the driver’s vision. Make sure to top off your washer fluid and carry a little extra if possible. 

Essential items for a winter road trip

Porsche Taycan
Porsche Taycan driving in the snow | Porsche

Once your car is prepped for the trip, it’s time to gather the gear you need to stay comfortable and safe in an emergency. Car and Driver note that this gear can also turn a sloggy winter road trip into something more adventurous and fun. 

Bestek Power Inverter: For better or worse, our devices are our lifeline these days. They often hold our maps, contacts, entertainment, and the ability to research. It is a good idea to make sure everyone in the car can keep their devices charged in the event of an emergency or even just to keep the road trip playlist going. 

Snacks: Food is the key to any road trip. Sure, having emergency food is smart, but if you hope to enjoy your road trip, you have to have the proper snacks. Car and Driver recommends a premade snack kit from The LakeHouse. Salty. Sweet. Good. 

Snow tool: A quality snow brush/ice scrapper is key to any winter road trip. Thawing a frozen car can take far longer than you might expect. Removing snow and ice from the roof and windows can speed the process up tremendously. 

Cell phone signal booster: Cell phone service might be the make-or-break moment in the case of a winter emergency. While this device can’t create cell service when there is none, it can make a weak service area strong enough to get a call or text through. 

Heated blanket: Keeping warm is key. If you find yourself stranded in your car, a heated blanket will help you survive and keep your morale up in the event of an emergency. 

Survival kit: There are a million survival kits on the market. You’ll have to pick the one that best suits your needs, but the Ranalto Emergency Roadside Kit has a wide variety of survival items that should cover most, in not all, your bases. 

Portable Battery jumper with air compressor: Cold weather hurts batteries and tire pressure. Having a way to maintain battery charge and proper tire pressure is money well spent. These units can be pricy, but future, you will thank current you for not skimping on this one. 

Winter road trips are great if you’re prepared

A blue 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, which is a 2023 SUV to buy in the snow.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru of America, Inc.

Like most things in life, a good winter road trip can be buckets of fun. Even a trip you’ve done 100 times can feel fresh and exciting with snow on the ground. Preparing is the best way to enjoy yourself and keep stress to a minimum. But having good snacks in abundance is the only way to ensure it goes well.