What Are Your Roadtrip Must Haves?

Spring has sprung – heck in my area it might as well be summer – and it that time when a car lover’s mind turns to roadtrips! This is especially the case since in about three weeks time the MG 2016 All Register Meet will be kicking off in Louisville, Kentucky. Sadly, I will not be driving an MG to this meetup, but I may very well be taking my 1978 Triumph Spitfire on this roadtrip. Hey, don’t hate, at least it is older British.


With the contemplation of such a trip come the thoughts of what I should take with me. What tools, parts, and precautions should I be packing in the trunk for those roadside repairs or hotel parking lot tune-ups?  Now the list will, of course, differ based on the car and its age and obscurity, but here is my basic list of roadtrip equipment.

Standard Driving Equipment
  • Spare tire
  • Jack
  • Block of wood (to put jack on or brace things)
  • License
  • Registration
  • Proof of insurance
  • Spare set of keys – on the car or on a friend
  • AAA Card
  • Cell Phone
  • Jumper cables and/or jump starter
  • Stool or folding chair
  • Phone charger (battery, plug-in, solar, backup battery)
  • Bungie cords
  • Camera
  • Strong flashlight
  • Ear plugs
  • Poncho
  • Blanket to lay on ground (or piece of cardboard)
Small Tool Kit
  • Vice grips
  • Pliers
  • Screw drivers
  • Wrenches
  • Knife
  • Razor blade
  • Wire cutters
  • Voltage meter
  • Funnel
ConsumablesPeter Egan on the Road America's favorite automotive writer stays off the Interstate
  • Jug of 50/50 water-coolant
  • Oil
  • Brake fluid
  • Gasket sealant
  • Electrical tape
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • Wire
  • Wire connectors (male, female, tube)
  • Band-aids
  • Bandage
  • Handi-wipes
  • Roadside flare or triangle
  • Safety vest
  • Fix-a-flat
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Air pressure gauge
  • Battery charger
  • Fuses
  • Repair manual (paper or digital) with wiring diagram
  • Spark plugs
  • Fuel hose
  • Fuel filter
  • Heater hose
  • Fan belt
  • Radiator hose(s)
So what I really need are your thoughts here. What am I missing? Is all of this stuff overkill? What is in your roadtrip travel bag?
Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.


  1. First, I emailed you a list of spares that we carry in our 52 TD. Most all of the spares have been used on trips either in our car or another T-Type traveling with us. Memorable repairs were Changed a head gasket on a supercharged TF down on the Blue Ridge in the poring rain with umbrellas being held over the open engine. Changed a half shaft in the under hotel parking lot in Cape May during a tropical storm/hurricane..keeping a constant watch on how high the surf was getting just across the street. It’s all part of the fun and adventure of traveling in a 50+ year old car!

    • Here is Steve’s list. I like how it is organized by where the items are to be found. Also like the items for the two seats. Sense of humor is one that can often be forgotten…

      Tool Box Left
      – Brake Springs
      – Carb Float
      – Cont Checkers
      – Dist Cap
      – Expansion Plug
      – Fan Belt
      – Fuel Tank Siphon
      – Fuses
      – Plug Gap Gauge
      – Plugs W/ Wrench
      – Points/Cond
      – Pump Points
      – Rotor
      – Thermostat
      – Throttle Springs
      – Volt Reg
      – Weather Stripping
      – Wire

      Glove Box
      – Hand Cleaner
      – Rain X
      – Sun Screen
      – Tire Gauge

      Tool Box Right
      – 1/2 Drive Ratchet
      – Can Opener
      – Channel Locks
      – Electric Tape
      – File
      – Fuel Hose Rubber
      – Fuel Lines Braided
      – Hose Clamps
      – Large Pliers
      – Mirror
      – Needel Nose Pliers
      – Rag
      – Ratchet Screw Driver
      – Scraper (Razor Blade)
      – Screw Drivers
      – Teflon Tape
      – Torque Wrench
      – Vice Grips (2)
      – Whit Wrenches
      – Wire Cutters
      – Wire Ties

      Side Curtain
      – Axel W/ Nut/Bearing
      – Bikini Top
      – Brake Drum Puller
      – Brasso
      – Break Fluid/Silicone
      – Carb Listening Pipe
      – Cups
      – Drum Puller
      – Fuel Filter
      – Fuel Pump
      – Fuel Pump Emerg Bulb
      – Generator
      – Hd Plastic Bags Lg
      – Jack Handel
      – Lg Cressent Wrench
      – Rad Hoses
      – Rain Gear
      – Sealants
      – Stethoscope
      – String
      – Tow Strapw/2 Clevis
      – W Pump W/ Pulley&Key
      – Wax W/Towels
      – G-15 Tube

      Under Dash
      – Brake Rebuild Kits
      – Engine Gaskets
      – Head Gasket

      – Bungie Cords
      – Duct Tape
      – First Aid
      – Flashlight
      – Hunting Headlamp
      – Lg Freezer Bags
      – Luggage Rack Supt
      – Manuals
      – Parts Cataloges
      – Scissor Jack W/Handle

      Foot Rest
      – Assorted Wrenches
      – Axle Driver Rods
      – Files
      – Flex Drive
      – Sockets
      – Whit Sockets
      – Tire Irons
      – 1/2″ Ext

      – Skyline Dr
      – T Register
      – Lap Of New England

      Drivers Seat
      – Common Sense
      – Lg Dose Of Adventure
      – Sense Of Humor

      Passenger Seat
      – Annie

  2. My addition and thought to that list — no need to carry anti-freeze, as it makes a mess if it leaks and we are not driving in frosty weather. But, carrying a temporary-use core plug (Dorman makes them to fit MGs) is worthwhile.

    Also, the inner bag from a box of Dunkin Donuts “Box of Joe” is ideal for the kit. It rolls up to the size of an envelope, yet opens and fills to contain a couple of quarts of water or petrol.

    • Interesting about the DD coffee box liner idea. I have never seen the inside of one of those – will have to look. Cool idea.

      The freeze-plugs sound interesting too. Honestly though, and maybe it is because I am from the South, I have never had a freeze plug go in all my 35 plus years of doing this. Do they really go that often for other folks?

      • Do open a box of DD coffee. That liner is of surprisingly high quality. I usually buy a box or two for our club tech sessions, and send a bag home with someone every time.

        Fortunately, I had a couple of them in my MGB-GT a couple of years ago. The core plug, conveniently located behind the alternator, blew out. This was on a club drive, so handy help was there to take bags for water, and to hold tools while installing the Dorman plug. I was on the road in 15 minutes; the time-consuming part of the job was waiting for the engine to cool enough to remove alternator fastenings.

        We all refer to them as “freeze” plugs but, more accurately, they are “core” plugs, which fill the holes in the block made during the casting process so the core sand can be removed. Though they are usually the weak link in a block when the coolant freezes, that is not their purpose. They should last forever, and usually do.


        The plugs used in XPAG and B-series engines are a domed plug that is set into place with couple of ball pein hammers, one held against the plug while the other hammers the first hammer to swell the plug tight into the hole. Oft times, when rebuilding, the hole is not perfect and the plug does not get a good seal. If it leaks, one knows and can reset or replace.

        Several of us in the CT MG Club had rebuilt our engines about the same time, five or six years ago, and all of us blew a plug or two. I don’t think it likely that all of us did not know how to install, which is why we got on the bandwagon about keeping a Dorman plug in the kit and carrying a bag for water.

        About 20 years ago I rebuilt my TD engine. In one of those “while you are at it” moments, because the engine was out for painting the car, I thought to replace the steel plugs with brass, as advocated by Tom Lange. Three steel plugs were perfect; one was almost rusted through from the back. TD engines are not pressurised–had it been, that plug would have failed.

  3. “core plugs”, miss named “freeze” plugs, do rust out,, In my TOOL BOX Left are Expansion Plugs,, AKA Doorman plug, available from your local hardware store,, quick fix in the road,,,

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