En español | Q: Dear Peter, my wife and I have decided to try driving cross-country to see her family in Maryland, stopping in hotels and B&Bs along the way. She's very nervous about getting stuck somewhere, even though we have AAA, and it's summer so there is no chance of snow. I'm going to buy an emergency case to keep in the car. Anything you recommend?
–Kel Connors, Bakersfield, Calif.
A: Kel, I love the idea of road-tripping, and if you and your wife can survive a week in the car together, you can survive anything. I'm always an advocate of emergency preparation, so here's a quick list of the major items to carry on any road trip. Chances are, you'll never need to use them, but if you do, you'll be glad you have them!
Number one: a flashlight. This is something I always have and not just for driving. You should actually keep a flashlight in your hotel room in case of an emergency, say a fire or earthquake, when there may not be power.
Backup batteries for your electronics. There's no point in having a mobile phone for emergencies if you can't keep it charged, and if the power goes out, so will your ability to communicate.
A battery-operated radio. Although you can usually rely on your car radio for essential information, it will be of no use if a breakdown means you can't turn it on!
A whistle. This is always a smart item to carry around, just in case you need to call for help or locate one another in an emergency situation.
Always carry some emergency cash in small denominations, and — most people don't think about this — a stash of quarters to make phone calls. Also, be sure to pack sturdy shoes, warm clothing and a warm hat and blanket, just in case you get stuck somewhere and the weather isn't forgiving.