Packing the Essentials: How to Make a Safe Travel Kit

safe travel kit

Planning a road trip? Don't hit the road without these essential survival items. Read this article to learn what to pack in your safe travel kit.

Essential Items for Your Safe Travel Kit

One of my friends is leaving for Michigan today and asked me to help him make up a small “just in case” pack to take with him on the trip. It just so happened that one of my bug-out bags was due for inspection, so I had a few spare parts to build a kit for him.

This is a small but effective kit that I built out of extra items that I had lying around, but you can easily make your own for an affordable cost.

Travel Kit Contents

Insulated lunchbox. The insulation is normally used to keep your lunch cold, but for an emergency kit, it can be used to the opposite effect. The insulation will actually keep your supplies from freezing.

Two 2400-calorie ration bars. These Mayday ration bars taste a bit like apple pie and don’t induce thirst. They actually taste fantastic with a bit of milk. But beware: they sit like a lead pellet in your stomach.

Two liters of water. These Mayday water rations come in individual 4.25-ounce Mylar pouches. I prefer the Mylar pouches over the juice box-style containers. They take up less space, weigh less, are more durable, and will not be damaged if the water freezes.

The ones that I have come with a Ziplock pouch with a pour spout. I don’t like the idea of pouring out every pouch into the container, but it would work well to put snow in and wait for it to melt. (If you don't have these food and water supplies lying around, you can get a head start by clicking here.)

Pocket first aid kit. There's not much in it, but it never hurts to have some Band-Aids and alcohol swabs on hand.

Two space blankets. These emergency blankets work, but they make a ton of noise and tear easily. I suggest adding a few normal blankets for comfort.

Bic lighter. Sure, you could try to start a fire with a couple of sticks, but if you can do it with the single flick of a blink, why the hell would you want to do it any other way?

Box of weatherproof matches. Redundancy is key when it comes to starting a fire.

Survival whistle. If you're caught in a snowstorm, you need to do everything possible to make sure others can see or hear you. The whistle might not be the most effective means of doing so, but it can’t hurt. (It also has a flint on the side to help with the fire starting.)

Snack kit. This part of the kit is completely up to your choosing, but I like to have a few sticks of beef jerky, some bouillon cubes, and tea bags or instant coffee – basically anything that will help improve the mood of an increasingly aggravating situation.

Portable solid fuel camp stove with fuel tablets. If you’re out in the cold, a nice warm cup of soup or tea can really improve your morale – and who wants to drink a mug of cold chicken-flavored soup?

Stainless steel mug. You can use one of these over the stove without harming the mug.

If you don't feel like making your own, check this one out:

Packing the Essentials How to Make a Safe Travel Kit

For awesome survival gear you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store!

Want more tips? Check out these related articles from our website:


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Feb 6, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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12 Responses to :
Packing the Essentials: How to Make a Safe Travel Kit

  1. Dave says:

    A deck of cards and/or a light-weight set of dominoes. Most humans are used to instant gratification and the wait can damage the mind of the toughest.
    Hard candy in the snack kit to help with the stress.

    1. Joe says:

      Yes I forgot about entertainment, cards are good, and if you bring domino’s you might need to include a piece of stiff cardboard or a small sheet of plywood to play them on, but that all dependss on how much space you have in your vehicle. crosswords, sudoku, and other mind games would be good. If you have kids it would be a good idea to bring extra batteries for their game boys and PSP’s if they have them.

  2. TinMan says:

    I would include at least one small LED flashlight and a stout ‘pillar’ type candle. If you have to spend an overnight in your car (or worse)you’ll be amazed how comforting the light from one candle can be in a hunkering down situation.
    i always keep a wool mil. style blanket packed in the vehicle, just in case. i also keep a cotton towel handy as well. A towel can be used for many things, in many situations. it can be rolled and used as a pillow, used as sling for a dislocated shoulder (Have actually used it for that), can be torn into multiple strips for bandaging or a compress dressing to absorb blood at a roadside accident.

    1. Joe says:

      Ah! I forgot about the flashlight! I didn’t include it in his kit as he actually had one in his glove box already

  3. Richter says:

    I was Born & Raised in Central Michigan, & you have the Very Basics in your Bag, But you lack a good one for Night time Survival. My Bag Always Contained 1 Roll Gorilla Duck Tape. This stuff is Super Strong, Sticks to almost Everything & Can even be made into a Working Boat if Needed.
    1 roll of 50 Lb. Spider wire Fish line & Fish-line swivels/connectors, Lead weights & bobbers. Hooks from All sizes, Great for catching Small Game as well., About 200Ft. of Para-Cord With Assorted Eyelets. 4-Heavy-Duty Mylar Sleeping bags, A small Tube of Super compressed wash Towels(cotton) Waterless Soap in a Squeeze tube., A med.Locking box for Smaller Items & First-aid. Including; Needed Medical, Fresh Garlic Caps. B-12, An Emergency Inhaler, Sting-kit, Snake-bite-kit, Poison IVY & Oak Treatment Kit, EMT-Dental kit,, Plus 3 types of Tapes & Cutters. All of that & it weighs less than 3 Lbs. Next I use a Water-Bag( Military Type, Folded, That holds 6 Gal. & filters the water at a Gal per Hour., Fire Starting Kit Includes; Small Buckskin pouch(homemade) that Comtains1 – Magnesium & Flint Fire Starter, With 1/8 Rods made from Cutting a spare Magnesium block, Great for Distress Flares at Night As once lit, they will never Blow out. Note, Bic Lighters are fine, But they tend to Break easy, It’s Far Better to relight on a Good Lighter or backup. In my Kit, I always have one or more C-Card lenses,, Some Fresh Steel Wool in a Pill Bottle,With a Taped Button Battery, Waterproof Matches, A Small Folding Knife, And Cotton Balls and GAUZE that was Dipped in Bees Wax., Now on to the last 2 Things, 1 Extra Set of SILK underwear ( A Union Suit), Water-proof Socks, Bacava mask & Gloves. A Military Rain Poncho, 2- Hunting & Survival Knives with wet stone. A LED Head Gear, 2 LED Lights, 1 Hand Crank Charging LED Light. And on the OUTSIDE of my Bag is a Solar Panel, Max. Output 9V at 300mah. A Swiss Multi-Powered -Radio, Survival water Straws & Cleaning Kit, 1 Attached Mess Kit. Without the Food Bars & Water, My Pouch weighs out at 13.7 pounds. I have a Fanny Pack with extras like Food Bars & Dried Meats. All of my gear has been Washed & Soaked in a Hot Bath of Bee’s Wax Then Air Dried under Pressure, A Trick I Learned from a Yukon Trapper years ago. That’s about it.
    A Good OLD Book to read would be, FOX FIRE Trapper’s Bible, or, Survival tactics – SAS, Wilderness Survival, Desert Survival, Wintered Kills, Survival guide. Or Contact Me at Quester550 on You Tube, for even more advice for Field Survival. Did you know that having a Bucket Fire while Ice Fishing serves 2 purposes? ! it Helps Keep you warm, 2. Add a Stick & Roast the Fish you Catch over the Flames, Yum Good.

  4. Gordon says:

    Might take a pretty big bag for all that stuff, huh? And what if you have to WALK? You are a target victim. Fire starter sticks, prescription meds, cold weather gear, topo maps, courage…..

  5. Dee says:

    Hi Joe…
    Excellent advice , as usual and very timely.
    I’m including this link to a very sad story that did not have to happen.
    Unfortunately, we are seeing this type of unprepared behavior all too often. This is the second incident within a month that I know of where people became stranded in the snow, LEFT the safety of their vehicle and a death resulted. Sad and completely preventable. Please people, if this happens to you, stay with your car. Don’t take rides into the back country, especially on unpaved and unmaintained roads. If you must go off-roading, let someone know your route, your estimated time of arrival and stay in contact when you do arrive at your destination.

  6. Leigh says:

    This is amazing for cold travel, but anything out there like this for those of us who live in the South? Not planning on cold travel, but a kit or ideas for warm would be great. Thanks so much.

  7. Chuck says:

    I am not about to try fishing if stranded in cold weather. If I am traveling by car, it is just a small thing to throw a couple of bags of jerky, some good energy bars and some snickers bars into a gallon zip lock bag. You can be doing a bunch of other stuff like lighting a fire, building an add-on shelter to your vehicle rather than squatting by a stream trying to catch a torpid fish. I would rather carry a wood cutting chain than fish hooks and line. A wood cutting chain will allow you to harvest bigger logs for a longer lasting fire.

  8. Rev. Robert M. Paris, D.Min, D.D. says:

    What no mention of a magnifying glass (or one of the thin wallet size ones? they are great for starting a fire in a pinch, and can aid in the removal of splinters. YOU do not think splinters are such a big deal? Wait til you get one and it gets infected then you need a bigger first aid kit. Oh and you need to check out for their wallet kits with snares, hooks and spears for catching game. also you did not mention paracord which has many uses. I carry it on a bracelet and a paracord grenade from

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