How to Make a Travel Survival Kit

By Amy Curtis; Updated June 08, 2017

Be prepared for anything with this easy-to-make travel kit

How to Make a Travel Survival Kit

Where are you off to today? Wherever you’re going, it’s good to be prepared for whatever might come your way. Keeping a survival kit with you at all times allows you to be a little bolder, going off the beaten path if you feel like it, knowing you’ll be safe.

How to make a survival kit

There are a few things to remember about making a survival kit, no matter where you’re headed. First, make it small enough that you’ll want to take it. All kinds of tutorials are available online, from survival kits small enough to fit in an Altoids tin or pill bottle, to kits that will fill a coffee can or fanny pack, to survival kits to go in the trunk of your car, which can obviously be fairly large. If you’re driving, consider the space in your trunk. If you’re hiking, think about how much of your precious backpack space you’ll be able to use for this purpose. Then think about possible dangers you’ll face and add items specific to your destination.

What do you need in your emergency kit?

Certain things are basic to every emergency kit. Think about what you’d need to survive in an emergency: food, water, fire, tools, protection from the elements, something to help you communicate and navigate, and some basic medical and sanitation supplies.

  • Food: Some authorities suggest bringing a can of dog food, because it’s less palatable than what you’d typically think to bring and won’t be eaten as quickly. If you’re not into that idea, think high protein and portable, like energy bars, jerky, tuna packets, peanut butter in foil or nuts. If you have space, bring enough to last for 72 hours. If you’re using a coffee can, just bring some packets of honey and some instant soup. A true survivalist may even be able to make do with only a fishing line and hook.
  • Water: If you’re packing the trunk of your car, bring a gallon per person, per day. For a smaller kit, consider water purification tablets or a water filter. You can also bring un-lubricated condoms, which hold a gallon of water each, or zippered plastic bags, which you can fill with water and leave in the sun to allow the UV rays to kill bacteria.
  • Fire: In a large kit, bring fire starters. In a small kit, bring waterproof matches. You can also make your own mini-fire starters by putting a little bit of petroleum jelly onto a cotton ball, stretching out the cotton ball, stuffing it into a piece of drinking straw, and sealing the straw at both ends by clamping it with pliers and carefully melting it with a lighter.
  • Tools: First and foremost, bring a sturdy folding knife, preferably a multipurpose tool. Duct tape won’t take up too much real estate. Paracord is extremely useful, as you can use it to tie down a shelter, make a snare and serve other useful purposes. You can roll it up compactly and even wrap it around a pill bottle in a small kit, so plan to bring about 10 feet. If you’ve got room in your trunk for a larger kit, of course, you can include flares to signal for help.
  • Weather protection: A rain poncho is fairly compact, but a garbage bag can be rolled up even smaller and has more uses. Hand/feet warmers can be invaluable if you’re stuck someplace cold, and a bandanna protects the back of your neck from the sun and also carries things, pre-filters water, protects your face in a dust storm and more. If you have room, pack a fleece or Mylar blanket.
  • Communication and navigation: If you know how to use a compass, bring one, as well as printed maps of the area. A flashlight helps you see in the dark and can attract attention. Bring whatever size will fit in your kit, but remember extra batteries. Provided you have service where you’re stranded, a solar or hand-crank charged cellphone is invaluable. A whistle can easily fit in even a small emergency kit.
  • First aid and sanitation: First, pack a basic first aid kit with tweezers, bandages, antihistamine, pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, nausea medication and sunscreen. Pack at least a few days’

    worth of important prescriptions. For sanitary purposes, pack wipes, hand sanitizer, a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, and large zippered plastic bags or garbage bags. Toilet paper can be made more compact if you remove the cardboard roll.

What to add to your kit

If you’ve got the space, bring along a few other items, such as extra clothing and a shovel. A bag of kitty litter can help out if your car is stuck on an icy road. Towels are a useful luxury. If you wear contacts, travel with extra contact solution.

Other considerations

The benefit of making your own survival kit rather than buying one pre-made is that you can adapt it to your specific needs. Think about what you would need to get by if you were stranded for a few days. What about feminine hygiene products? Do you travel with a dog? Adapt your kit to keep your pet safe also. Bring an inspirational book, a deck of cards, or a small journal and pen to protect your sanity, just as the other items can help ensure your survival.

About the Author

Amy Curtis