If you frequently travel long distances, especially between towns or along rural roads, you would know that having a well-stocked emergency kit is essential. Experiencing car trouble is an inconvenience when it happens in town, but it can be quite dangerous if it happens on an isolated road, miles from anywhere.
But few people consider doing the same when renting a vehicle for any long-distance travelling. And you needn't be a tourist taking a cross-country road trip for this to be a must have. If you frequently drive a car rental for business trips that take you out of built-up areas, you'd feel a lot more confident if you also had a compact emergency kit.
Most car rental agencies like Rentabomb - Cheap car hire in the Gold Coast will offer some form of roadside assistance - even after hours - but an emergency kit filled with a small amount of essential items would still serve you well if you have to wait hours for help to arrive. When travelling in your own car, you would want an emergency kit that contains a number of items for almost any type of situation, but a rental car emergency kit can be paired down to a few important items that won't take up a lot of space, and are easy to carry in your luggage.
1. A Torch
It isn't difficult to find powerful yet compact torches, but try to buy one that can be charged using the car cigarette lighter, or USB port. This will force you to always travel with the torch in the vehicle with you, and also minimise the risk of finding that the batteries have died.
2. Bottled Water
Two to three bottles should be sufficient if you're travelling alone. Water hydrates you better than sodas and other sugary drinks, and unopened bottled water usually has a shelf life of one to two years. Check the best before date ahead of each trip, and always replace any water you have consumed at the end of each trip.
3. Granola or Energy Bars
If you're stuck on the side of the road for a few hours, you're going to get hungry, and like bottled water, granola bars and energy bars usually have a long shelf life. As with the bottled water, check and replace as necessary.
4. A Compact Poncho
Not essential, but very useful if you end up stuck in the rain, or worse yet, need to change a flat tyre in the pouring rain. It will keep you somewhat dry and warm.
5. A Charger for Your Phone
You don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere only to discover your phone battery is just about empty. Carry a car charger with you, and also consider investing in a solar powered charger and/or a powerbank. If you travel with a powerbank, get into the habit of charging it before each trip.
6. Road Maps
Your phone has maps, and the car you rent may also include a GPS unit, but neither are of much help if the car battery dies, or you don't have a strong cellphone signal. Traditional paper maps of the areas you will be travelling in won't take up much space, and can be a real lifesaver in an emergency.
7. A Heavy Duty Bag
A small, heavy-duty bag - not much larger than a toiletry bag - will make it easier to keep all the above items, and any others you choose to include, together and portable. Go with heavy-duty materials since they won't tear easily.