The essential summer survival kit for van drivers

Van advice

17 July 2019

UK summers are famously unpredictable, but failing to prepare properly for summer weather is only preparing to fail.

From mechanical failure and flat tyres to traffic jams and rising temperatures, there’s a range of issues van drivers can come up against in summer. To help you get ready to hit the roads smoothly, we’ve put together our essential summer driver survival kit.

Just keep these essential items handy in your van to get your summer drives off to the best possible start.


Summer weather usually (hopefully) means sunshine. And while this can often make for ideal driving conditions, it can raise some hazards for van drivers to be aware of.

According to the Department for Transport, 3,900 people are injured in accidents caused by the glare of the sun each year. Glare can be caused by strong sunlight and can be reflected from the road, the bonnet and windscreen of other cars, or can appear from behind trees or buildings as you drive. Strong, bright glare can still be present even in typically British summer rainstorms, as the sun reflects off of the wet road surfaces and into the driver’s eyes.

Keep a pair of sunglasses in your glove box when driving in summer to block out the blinding light. If possible, choose sunglasses featuring polarised lenses, as these are more effective at combating glare.  

Glare can be made worse by anything that lowers your visibility while driving, so keep your van dashboard clear of any distractions or rubbish, and make sure your windscreen is clean too. Keep a soft cloth or sponge in your summer driving kit as well as windscreen wiper fluid and glass cleaner.

A breakdown kit

Long days and warm weather might be what we all hope for in summer, but they can also lead to some of the main causes of a summer breakdown. And if a breakdown happens, it’s important to have some essentials on hand to help you get back up and running as quickly as you can.

Keep a spare phone charger in your glove box to make sure you always have enough battery to call your breakdown service provider. And it’s a good idea to keep your breakdown cover policy details handy too.

High temperatures can aggravate existing tyre damage, leading to a higher chance of a puncture or flat. Always keep a spare tyre and jack in your van and check tyre pressure and tread depth regularly.

Another breakdown essential is the trusty jump leads, which can help you restart safely if the battery goes flat. And for any help and advice on identifying problems in your van, the owner’s manual is your bible.

First aid kit

A first aid kit is a van driving essential whatever the weather, but in summertime it’s a good idea to keep your kit topped up with a few summer essentials.

The first thing in your summer first aid kit? Sunscreen. While windshields often block out most of the potential dangers of the sun’s rays, side and rear windows typically don’t block out UVA rays, which can penetrate deep into the skin and cause long-term damage, aging and wrinkles. Choose a sunscreen with a strong enough SPF and reapply every few hours.

Summer can be a tough time for sufferers of hay fever, and it can be particularly dangerous for drivers suffering from allergies. Sneezing while driving at 70mph can lead to you losing your vision for 100 metres. Keep a stash of non-drowsy hay fever or anti-allergy tablets in your first aid kit and some tissues at the ready, and minimise symptoms by keeping windows closed while driving through high pollen areas near parks or forests.

And just in case you get stuck in traffic in hot weather or break down under the burning sun, keep some non-perishable food and drink like bottled water and crisps in a cool box, to make sure you don’t go hungry or thirsty in the heat.

Fluids – for you and your van

It’s not just the driver that needs to stay hydrated in hot weather – your van needs to keep its fluids topped up too.

Rising temperatures can increase the likelihood of your engine overheating, one of the main causes of a summer breakdown. 

That means you need to regularly check and put water in your van’s radiator and keep an eye on you van’s engine coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, oil and windscreen wash to keep it running smooth.

And once your van’s thirst is quenched, keep yourself hydrated with a reusable stainless steel water bottle while you’re on the go.

Essential documents

Breakdowns can be more regular in summer months, so it makes sense to keep your breakdown cover policy information to hand should the worst happen, but accidents can increase in summer too.

Rising temperatures outside can lead to tempers flaring behind the wheel, and roads can be busier with school holidays and road trippers hitting the highway when the weather is nice. Combined with decreased visibility due to glare and you’ve got an accident waiting to happen.

Keep your van insurance details handy in case of any accidents, and it’s always worth double checking your van insurance and breakdown cover policies and updating in summer if necessary. Knowing you’re fully covered wherever the road takes you lets you focus on the important stuff, like enjoying your summer drive.


With your essential summer driving kit in place, the sun shining and the right van driver playlist to soundtrack your journey, all that’s left is to relax and hit the road.

Keep your van moving – no matter what

At AXA, we want to make sure protecting your van, and keeping your business moving, is as simple as possible. Take a look at our help and advice for van drivers, and once you have the information you need, get a van insurance quote and save 10% when you book online.