At times, I am the most addle-brained, forgetful person on the planet. No, really. I’m constantly asking, “Is there any chance we have any (fill in the blank) in the car? No? Darn.” I had been toying with the idea of one day, when I’m really bored or motivated or nesting or SOMETHING, to get my act together and actually flesh out my car with every conceivable necessity possible.
With an imminent cross-country road trip to Pensacola, Florida looming over my head and a baby on the way, I finally decided to invest a day in making my car road trip proof, oops-I-forgot-this proof and new baby proof. For those of you who know me, you know I get ridiculously giddy over checklists. So here’s my complete list of things to keep in your car. This is particularly useful for the accident prone and chronically forgetful.
(Most of these items can be found in pre-assembled Emergency Car Kits in auto supply stores)
Owner’s manual – Helps with everything from, “How do I turn the wiper fluid on?” to “What does it mean when the check engine light is on and fire is happening?”
Registration and Insurance Information – Always good to have on hand. And make sure you always know where it is. I always feel like cops are thinking I’m some creeper digging around for a gun when it takes me a lot of ferreting around to produce my license and registration.
First aid kit – Make sure you familiarize yourself with everything that’s in it. I had one for like 4 years, and never knew what it contained. And after like a trillion backpacking trips where I endured blisters, chapped lips, bug bites and the like, I finally opened it and was like, “Hey look! Chap stick! Moleskins! Insect repellant! Awesome! And kind of lame for me…”
Jumper cables – Always nice to be in a position to be the Good Samaritan. Of course, I’m usually the one in need of a jump, but that’s besides the point…
Road flares – Good for accidents and the like. Also, in the off chance you find yourself in a Jurassic Park type setting, they are useful for luring T-Rexes off into the woods while you save the childrens.
Flashlight and extra batteries – So you can see in the dark. NOT recommended for shining in the eyes of T-Rexes whose eyesight is based on movement.
Emergency Blankets – Living in the heart of the Central Valley in California I don’t particularly feel the need to keep one of these on hand, but it came along with a ton of other not so essential essentials in the Emergency Car Kit I purchased. The kit I bought came with rain ponchos, a set of tools, a tow rope, glow sticks, an oil funnel and tons of other things I was kind of “meh” over.
Bottled water – For drinking or emergency radiator fluid. Having burned up an engine once, (okay twice) in my day, it’s particularly relevant for the latter.
Money – Everytime I do this I usually just end up spending it on Starbucks or some impulse buy. But I’m going to try and make a point of keeping a handful of change, and at least $20 in cash in my car at all times for emergencies. (Example: card being declined at gas stations and you’re running on empty.)
Cell phone charger – So you can always be able to make emergency calls and troll Facebook.
Important Medications – I have pretty severe asthma at times, and I very rarely actually keep my inhaler on hand. So I’ve set aside room in my car for an inhaler and allergy meds so I don’t, ya know, die.
Oil – I wasn’t going to throw this one on the list, but then a friend convinced me that if a car starts leaking oil on a long road trip, having a can on hand is the best $5 insurance you can invest in. So I agreed and decided to pretend it was my idea to add it to the list. Then I accidently shared this whole story. Oops.
Rags – For checking engines, oil levels, or anything to protect your hands / clothes / whatever.
Bucket to hold all the junk – Slap some Velcro on the bottom so it doesn’t slide around.
(But equally vital for the chronically unprepared…)
Pen and pad of paper – Always good for jotting down important notes and phone numbers, and for the writers out there, essential for capturing random ideas!
Dog treats, spare leash and doggie poop bags – Obviously this is for the dog owners out there. I’m always like, “Come on Thor! In the car!” And then I’m half way to the dog park before I’m like, “So. You didn’t happen to bring your leash, did you boy? BAD DOG!”
Kleenex – No more wiping your snot on your husband or car seat!
Plastic utensils – Okay, this one came about accidentally. My husband would take packed lunches to work, and found that it was easier to use throw away utensils than remembering to bring silverware back from work. After the dozenth time a fast food joint forgot our utensils after we drove away we were kind of like, “Heeeey. This isn’t a bad idea to keep these in the car!” Ditto for napkins and fire sauce from Taco Bell.
Breath mints – Cuz yo breath stanks.
Deodorant (for me and him) – I’m always rushing out the door being stinky. Okay, not ALWAYS, but it’s awful when it happens. I grabbed some tiny (non-meltable) deoderants, one for me and one for hubby, to keep on hand. Ya know, just in case.
Air freshener – I am so retarded for Fabreeze it’s not even funny.
Floss – This is one of those things that doesn’t seem important till you absolutely need it.
Travel razors – Okay, you can start judging me. I really am that unprepared most (all) of the time. I’ll be halfway to a friends house in shorts and then go, “Oh yeah. I should probably take care of these gorilla legs of mine.” Or I’ll find a huge stray hair on the back of my leg that somehow dodged my razor at home. At any rate, I recommend keeping one on hand. If you know how to, ya know, groom properly or whatever, disregard.
Lip balm – Always nice to have on hand. I made sure I got a non-meltable (cars get hot!) uni-sex tube one so I can share with my hubby.
Hand sanitizer wipes – Good to have, cuz you never know.
Lint roller – With a dog and five cats, this is an essential that I almost never have on hand, and really should. But with my honey in the Navy now, I can’t imagine his white Navy suit and black Maine Coon, or his blue Navy suit and his golden retriever would make a good pair without this bad boy on hand.
Sunglasses – I have taken to keeping one pair in my purse and one pair in the car at all times because I always lose and / or break these. ALWAYS.
Tylenol – I’ve taken to keeping this, and due to pregnancy ails, Gas-X and Tums in the car. I’m also keeping Band-Aids up in the front in addition to the ones stashed in the First Aid Kit in the back because PAPER CUTS CAN’T WAIT.
Protectant and Glass Wipes – For cleaning the car out and wiping down random spills and dog slobbers. I bought the pre-moistened wipes because they are ready to use and just easier to mess with.
Windshield Reflector – I really only use this as a light bouncer for photography, but I may eventually one day actually use it for my windshield. So in the car it stays.
Music – iPod, CDs, whatever. Make it happen.
So that’s pretty much it! I went on my epic car supply hunt, and then took my car to be professionally detailed. It looks and smells BETTER than when we drove it off the lot! I seriously don’t know how I’m ever going to let my dog back in the car after this sparkling cleaning job of awesomeness. I feel much more confident and empowered in my car preparedness, both in the emergency realm and in the “Uhhh, sir, you forgot my spork” at the drive thru realm. I’m super ready for this road trip and feeling just a tad more prepared for motherhood! Car down, only a trillion more nesting tasks to go!