The In-Home Tutor's Survival Kit

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As a tutor, working at a test prep company or learning center has it’s practical advantages: clients are the ones traveling to sessions, the location is a known quantity, and materials are provided on site. Taking the show on the road as an in-home tutor is an entirely different story. Once you've given up home field advantage, you've got to make sure you arrive to every appointment with EVERYTHING you may need to deliver an exceptional test prep experience.  

Whether you are an educational road warrior yourself or just looking for that perfect gift for the tutor in your life, here are some of the most essential tools of the trade that no tutor should leave home without:

The Basics

To start with, there are some indispensable materials every tutor should have on hand:

  • Paper (lined, blank, and graph)
  • Writing utensils (pencils, pens, highlighters)
  • Reference materials (curriculum guides, novels, textbooks, etc.)
  • Extra copies of printables (SAT worksheets, score reports, practice tests, etc.)
  • Calendar/day planner including key SAT and ACT testing dates
  • Ledger or accounting app for essential bookkeeping


Tutors can do a lot with a pencil and paper, but there are some tasks, like time-keeping, and higher-order computations that require some help from electronic devices. Tutors should come to sessions prepared with:

  • Calculators (graphing, 4 function, and backups)
  • Digital timer
  • Wristwatch
  • Spare batteries (rechargeable Eneloops are my personal favorites)
  • Chargers, cables, and adapters
  • Tablet, Chromebook, or laptop charged and equipped with any required curricular software.

It's worth noting that modern (...and even not-so-modern) smart phones can take the place of many of the aforementioned items. However, tutors ideally should be equipped with the tools they need so that their cell phones remain away during tutoring sessions.

For one thing, cell phones are amazing distractors. Even if you are using the phone just as a timer or basic calculator, all it takes is an email, call, text message, or social media notification to interrupt and potentially derail your focus. Turning your phone off and keeping it stowed away removes the temptation to read (or worse, respond) to digital interruptions. Stick to physical tools over the App Store alternatives.

Furthermore, students have a nose for hypocrisy. If you are asking students to put their cell phones away while yours isn’t, be prepared to get called on it. Make the responsible and professional decision to keep cell phones out of the tutoring environment.

On the road

Having everything you need for an in-home tutoring session won’t matter If you don’t make it to the session on time. Responsible traveling tutors ensure their vehicles are in working order and stocked with the necessary equipment to make it to and from their sessions safely and comfortably. Some must-haves include:

  • Road safety kit (flares, hazard sign)
  • First-aid kit
  • Spare tire (properly inflated), jack, and tire iron
  • Jumper cables and/or a rechargeable Jump-starter
  • Vehicle owner’s manual
  • Umbrella
  • Cell-phone charger
  • List of important local emergency contacts
  • Coins for parking meters
  • Cash for emergencies


When you’re constantly on the go working to help others, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Having some key supplies on hand can help make sure you are looking and feeling your best for every tutoring session.

  • Healthy, non-perishable snacks
  • Hydrating drinks (water, sports drinks, etc.)
  • A change of clothes
  • Extra layers (sweatshirt, sweater, jacket, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Extra prescription eye wear and relevant cleaning products
  • Deodorant

What's in your tutoring "go bag"? See something we left out? Share your must-haves with our readers in the comments below and on social media!