Just in Case Files – What Do You Need to Keep in Your Car?

It’s official – I have entered the “soccer mom” stage of life.  While neither of my kids is actually playing soccer right now (though Tyler did this spring), I have come to accept that a good chunk of my time is spent ferrying my children from one activity to another.  Todays schedule:  pick up a friend for a 6:30 workout at the gym, 8:40 take the girls up to the pool for swim team practice, quick trip to the grocerie store, 9:40 take the boys up to the pool for pre-comp swim team practice, 11:15 bring everyone home from the pool, 11:45 off to the water park for some summer fun…
Reorganize your car and stock it for summer
That’s a lot of time spent in the car for just one day, and many of my days have similar plans – piano lessons, summer camps, karate, walking the dog, playdates at the skateboard park, night games, family BBQs, trips to the lake, UPS drop offs for drying racks, swim meets, etc etc.  I’ve been grateful many many times for our decision to buy an SUV with the 3rd row seat where I can pile 9 of us in (if necessary) for carpool or a fun outing with friends, drop off a load of drying racks to be shipped out, or pile the dog and the kids’ bikes in the back for a walk.  But the past couple of weeks, in particular, I have noticed just how much STUFF was collecting in the car – towels, jackets, granola bar wrappers, empty water bottles, marbles, tree pruners, that glass wasp trap we bought on a whim at the nursery, and on and on.  I vowed to do something about it, and to get a bit more organized while I was at it.  This past weekend I finally took the time to follow through.  And wouldn’t you know it, I got half-way finished vacuuming out the car and this happens.


Yep, that’s hail.  Plus lightning and thunder.  It was kind of crazy but once I had rushed to put the vacuum back in the shop and close all the doors it was peaceful to just sit in the car by myself with the rain drumming on the roof.  Eventually it slacked off enough for me to rush through vacuuming the back seat then I put off the rest of the car cleaning and organization until the next day.  The car mats, which I had put on the ground to vacuum later were entirely soaked and are still in the garage where I left them to dry out.  The rest of the car is looking about as good is it will ever look at over 10 years old and still being used on a daily basis – so of course I felt the need to share! 😉

What should you keep in your car just in case necessities

My 11-year-old daughter came up with the title “Just in Case Files” and I thought it was cute.  It’s also a great lead-in to a series of blog posts on home organization and emergeny prep, isn’t it?

There isn’t a lot of storage space in my vehicle, but I try to make the most of it.  I tend to categorize things by when and where they will need to be used, and how often.
In the glove box:  registration and owners manual, flashlight, and maybe a few spare napkins from the drive through.
In the console:  This is where I keep most of the things I access all the time.  Sunglasses for everyone in the family, hand sanitizer, pens, sunscreen, baby wipes (my #1 Must Have Item, even if you don’t have kids), tissues, spare headphones (all too often I get half-way to the gym and realize I forgot to grab my headphones), car chargers for the phone and/or other handheld tech devices, (for road trips we also have a universal charger than can plug into the cigarette lighter and you can use just as you would any outlet), a compact multi-tool, tire guage, bags to have on hand if we take the dog for a walk and need to clean up after her, a collapsible dog bowl, my coupon organizer (though most of the time I don’t keep that up to date), and my keychain full of store membership cards (so they are on hand if I am anywhere I need one, but they don’t have to all be taking up space in my wallet or on my car keychain).   Oh and those white trianges?  Those are folded up plastic grocery bags which I try to have on hand to use for garbage, wet clothing, etc.
Under the front passenger seat:  first aid kit, umbrella, and a cosmetic bag full of things that I hate to be without if I find myself out and about and needing them including a small bottle with a mixture of meds for headaches, allergies, etc; hair pick and hair elastics, feminine hygiene products, lip balm (be sure it’s in a container that won’t leak if it melts in a hot car!), lotion, nail file, sewing kit, extra bandaids (yes, in addition to the first aid kit I’ve found it’s very useful to keep these stocked for those random playground accidents), and maybe a few of those hand wipes left over from the last time we had wings for dinner.

Just In Case What should you keep in your car Be prepared for summer
Under the back seat:  jumper cables, reusable shopping bags, car window scrapers (not sure why I need THREE, but I wasn’t in the mood to toss one without making sure the other vehicles were stocked).  We are using the third row seats quite often lately so I made sure to leave the space empty under the single seat we fold down to access the back.
In the back: a leash for the dog is kept attached to one of the rings so we don’t have to worry about her jumping out of the car as soon as we open the door.  I also got inspired a couple of months ago and bought a canvas drop cloth that we always keep in the car.  We are in and out so much with bikes, scooters, and the dog’s muddy paws or shedding fur that I decided it would be SO much easier to just spread out the drop cloth when needed then I can just shake it out or even toss it in the washing  machine and not worry about having to vacuum or steam clean the back of the car all the time.
One other item I always keep in the car is an empty water bottle (usually in one of the back cup holders or you know, rolling around on the floor somewhere 😉  )  Typically when we are headed out the door for the day we will grab full water bottles but last year we went out geocaching with cousins and found ourselves in a campground with thirsty kids and only a hydrant for water.  I had a couple of empty water bottles in the back of the car and they were perfect.  Now I keep at least one in the car because you can almost always find a hydrant, bathroom sink, or drinking fountain to fill one up if needed.
One final handy little item we found for the car (and used a lot during our multiple road trips last summer) are these little hooks that can attach to the back of the seat.  They are great for hooking bags to when you want easy access on road trips, to hang backpacks and swim bags to during carpool so the kids can have a little more leg room, or to hook a spare plastic grocery bag to for garbage.

Other things you may want to consider keeping in the car may include a few toys or books for the kids, a spare change of clothes for potty training (or because I found my kids wanting to have water fights with their cousins every time we saw them in June), or maybe a towel.

Let’s see…have I missed anything?  What do you keep in your car?

I guess I’m off to tackle the husband’s truck – as soon as I finish with today’s carpool duties and running around! 😉
Want more ideas for your road trip?  Check out my Road Trip Activities Binder idea!

Linking to:  Made By You Monday, Wow Me Wednesday,  Lou Lou Girls, Thursday Favorite Things, Your Turn to Shine, What To Do Weekends, Merry Monday, Lifestyle Link Up, DIY Sunday Showcase, Snickerdoodle Sunday,

15 thoughts on “Just in Case Files – What Do You Need to Keep in Your Car?

  1. momilyhomily says:

    What great ideas! (And a super cute title to boot. 😉 ) I struggle quite often with vehicular organization.
    Great to be co-hosting the #homemattersparty with you this month.


    • alaynascreations says:

      Thanks! Isn’t it funny how quickly a vehicle can get messy again? The very next time I had carpool after I cleaned the car, the 7 year old we pick up was pressed for time and brought his breakfast into the car with him. I almost had a freak out moment – “no! Don’t get crumbs in the car NOW!” LOL
      I’m having fun co-hosting the #HomeMattersParty too. Can’t wait to see what next weekend brings


  2. Nicole Simmons (@Notimefordiy) says:

    This is fantastic! I need to get our car in better shape. And yes, baby wipes are life-changing. I never carried them before kids and since having kids I have found them to be so handy all the time – even for non-kid related clean up! It’s great to be co-hosting the #HomeMattersParty with you!


  3. Sherry says:

    I try not to keep anything in my car just because it can get messy fast. I do see the importance of having some things, just like you suggest. Great tips. Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday.


  4. Lyndsay says:

    You are so organised! I couldn’t even find a pen in my car the other day, haha!
    I’m inspired to put some essentials in my car and get myself sorted 🙂

    Lyndsay | Fizzy Peaches

    p.s – Thanks for sharing this post on the Lifestyle Linkup!


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