50+ Things You Need in Your Vehicle!

I learned to “Be Prepared” in Girl Scouts. Over the years, I’ve become quite adept at having what I, and others, need–in my vehicle (or purse!) I wanted to share a list of things in my vehicle to inspire you.  You may want to add some of the things that resonate with you to your own “ride!”

Hopefully, you’ll get some ideas to make your life easier in the car. Just last week, while on a girl’s trip, I amazed my friends by having stamps, lotion, bottled water, back pillow, Benedryl, and a car-charger adapter plug for a different iPhone version than my own! It was humorous! Several people needed the above items, and thought we might have to drive to a store somewhere. No need! I had everything!

I have a crossover vehicle with storage in the back, so I have lots of room for totes. I used to have a well-stocked car trunk, and before that, when my kids were little, a “loaded” wood-paneled station wagon!

Some things can be stored in removable backpacks or totes that go in and out of the house, or into different cars, in order to avoid extreme shifts in temperature, for example: for certain medications. Some items you might keep in your purse, diaper bag, or briefcase which always accompanies you. I used plastic totes that the kids could put their feet on when they were little.

In the winter, it is wise to be prepared should you become stranded in your vehicle. Having food, water, blankets, extra clothing, car chargers, batteries, flashlight, and foot warmers could save your lives!

Some List Items consist of more than one “thing.” You may not think you need or want ALL these things in your vehicle, but keep an open mind! Go ahead and put a few more things in your car, “just in case!” “Down the road,” literally, you may be glad you paid attention to my list!


1. Drinks. My kids always had plastic cups of water or juice, or juice boxes, in the car. Now, I keep a case of bottled water in my car. I can refill my travel cup, share water with friends, and I always have something to drink when I’m “stuck” somewhere. I usually also have a Coca-Cola, Ginger Ale, Gator-Aid, juice, or other beverages on hand for when I want a change.

2. Cooler I keep an easily reachable six-pack cooler behind the front seat. I can add cold packs when I want drinks and snacks to stay cold.

3. Snacks/Meal Replacements. When my children were small, I kept a “snack box” in the car for after school snacks or other times when they were hungry. I measured individual servings into snack bags or plastic containers for “finger foods” like cereals, crackers, cookies, fruit, and carrots with dip. I supplemented with snack-sized servings of pudding, raisins, yogurt, etc. Now, I keep Slim-Fast shakes, energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, and ALWAYS some kind of CHOCOLATE in the car for me! Car snacks save money and time and (usually) promote healthier snacking and better attitudes! A couple of cans of “emergency” food are a good idea, especially during winter months.

4. Zippered Bag with Eating Utensils paper/plastic plates, cups, napkins, silverware.

5. Condiments Salt, pepper, catsup, soy sauce, tea bags, hot chocolate mix, or your family’s other favorite “comfort items.” Be prepared if the drive-thru attendant forgets your catsup, or if you want a cup of hot tea or cocoa. Most places have hot water, even if they don’t offer tea or chocolate. You can fix your own.

6. Assorted Plastic Bags Bags of all sizes and kinds are useful for trash, wet clothes, “throw up bags,” sitting on wet ground,  storing food, corralling toys, etc.

7. Hand Sanitizer Useful before eating when soap and water are unavailable

8. Gasoline Don’t let your gas level get below a quarter of a tank. You never know when you might be stuck in traffic. If you don’t have plenty of gas, you may run out. That will put a kink in your day!

9. Hidden Spare Key Locking your only car key in the car will mess up your day! For some reason, every time my routine is interrupted, I set my car keys on my seat, instead of putting them in my purse, then I get out of the car without realizing I’ve set my keys down. After locking myself out twice in one week, and having to call my husband to bring me a key, I started using a magnetic key holder. I hide a “door only” spare key on the underside of my car. (I duct tape over my key holder for added “insurance” that it won’t fall off.) If someone happens to find the hidden door key, they will not be able to start the car without an ignition key (unless they are criminals who can hot-wire a car, and were planning to steal it anyway.)

10. Proof of Insurance/Proof of Ownership Be sure to have necessary documents to prove your car is insured, and that it belongs to you. I also keep photos of those documents on my phone.

11. Permission to treat children/Power of Attorney/Other Legal Documents We kept notarized “permission to treat” letters in our car, so that anyone driving our children had our permission to take our children to the hospital or doctor, if needed. Keep copies of any other legal documents you may need available, as well.

12. Something to Pee In  Here is a plastic urinal like I had for my kids. More recently, I keep Disposable urinal bags in the car. FYI: They work great for adults, too, in an emergency!

13. Band-Aids/First Aid Kit. I cannot tell you how many dozens of band aids I’ve given away to kids and Moms!

14. Medications (OTC and Prescriptions) Allergy, Motion Sickness, Headaches/Migraines, Anti-Itch Stick for bug bites, Antibiotic Ointment, Contact lens case and Solution. Customize this list for your family.

15. Bug Sprays Be prepared to prevent mosquito bites or to kill wasps at a picnic!

16. Reading Glasses/Sun Glasses Keep extras for friends.

17. Waterproof Picnic Cloth This is useful for picnics. It is also good to protect your seats from wet kids or if you are transporting dirty or wet stuff!

18. Can/Bottle Opener Great for picnics, parties, and emergencies.

19. Matches For birthday candles and building fires!

20. Maps/Directions. Yes, maps are “old-fashioned,” but when your GPS won’t acquire a satellite signal and your cell phone has no bars, maps come in handy! If you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area, be sure to print a map and directions before you leave home, if you don’t have a commercial map to rely on.

21. Tool Box This is close to the kit I have, except mine is blue. Some guys have made fun of my “girly” tool kit, but I have had the last laugh when they needed to borrow my tools!

22. Jumper Cables I’ve helped strangers, friends, and myself with my heavy duty jumper cables.

23. Ice Scraper You may not need this in Hawaii or South Florida, but you’ll be glad you have one if you find yourself in a place where there is frost on your windows!

24. Extra Oil/Coolant Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it!

25. Tire Pressure Gauge/Anti-freeze Checker You can’t count on gas stations to have these when you need them.

26. Car Toys We had special toys that always STAYED in the car, as well as toys that were designated for trips but not played with other times.

27. Music, Audio Books, Movies, Car Games, Video Games, Headsets We sang lots of children’s songs. My son and I loved listening to books. These kinds of items rotated in and out but were usually around!

28. Books/Magazines/Reading Materials These were utilized while waiting for children, when in traffic, and while sitting in doctor’s offices.

29. Lotion For dry skin!

30. Make-up/Lipstick For freshening up.

31. Scissors There are always things to cut!

32. Nail Clippers For broken fingernails, threads, etc.

33. Razor/Tweezers For grooming (the light is very good in the car) and splinters.

34. Tide Stain Stick I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to my car to get my stain stick because someone has spilled something on themselves!

35. Change/Emergency Cash Keep change and a backup stash of cash for “emergencies.”

36. Umbrella For rain or shade.

37. Change of Clothes in ZipLoc Bag Necessary for kids. Practical for adults, too!

38. Old/Flat Shoes Be prepared for walking, mud, etc.

39. Flashlights/Batteries My husband thinks you can’t have too many flashlights. I probably have three in my car. Hey, if you arrive somewhere in the snow after dark, and have to walk through the woods to get to your house because you can’t go up the driveway in the car, everybody needs their own flashlight. And, yes, that is a true story!

40. Flares/Send Help Sign For roadside emergencies.

41. Sunshades 2 Kinds: To block heat from windshield when your car is parked and to shade passengers when sun is shining in while driving.

44. Diapers/Wipes/Sanitary Items Whatever your situation requires.

45. Gloves/Hat/Sweater/Jacket/Foot & Hand Warmers Sweaters are practical to keep in the car year round. Jackets and warm clothes can be a life-saver in the winter.

46. Blankets Warm blankets and quilts are a must in the winter; light throws are great in summer when the air-conditioner is too cool.

47. Pillows For naps and back comfort.

48. Stamps/Pad/Paper/Envelope/Pens/Sharpie/Rubber Bands Keep office supplies for writing school notes, paying bills, etc.

49. Phone Charger, A/C Adapter Plug, Splitters Make sure you can charge and power the devices you need.

50. Folding Stool I keep one to use when there is no other place to sit. I use it a lot!

51. Knives Useful for all kinds of things!

52. Weapons: Pepper Spray/Gun If your beliefs and situation warrant it, be prepared to defend yourself and your family. I am not advocating putting children in harm’s way. Weapons must be used responsibly,  stored safely, and not accessible to young children.

What important items do you keep in your vehicle that I left off my list? Please let me know if one of my hints comes in handy for you! Thanks! 

Disclaimer: All items listed are things that have been or are currently in my car. I posted sponsored links for several items to make it easy for you to find them. If you purchase anything from the links, I may make a few cents!

50+ Things You Need in Your Vehicle!

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