11 Handy Things To Keep In Your Car

Family of four by car trunk while on picnicCars are essentially traveling storage units. They can fit a lot of stuff—including the kind of stuff you never want to be without. Here are 11 things you can toss in your trunk to be prepared for anything.


red car jumper cablesIf your car battery goes dead in a parking lot, it’s a lot easier to ask someone to jump start you than it is to call for a tow truck. Carry your own jumper cables to make things even easier in the event your car won’t start. Just be sure to check your owner’s manual to be certain you’re doing it the right way.


  1. Baby wipesBABY WIPES

Even the most fastidious car owner will spill something at some point. Keep a stock of baby wipes on hand in case your morning coffee tips over or your niece gets carsick.

  1. WATER

Two water bottlesIn an emergency (or on a summer road trip) having a stock of water in your car can keep you hydrated and healthy. It can also come in handy if your coolant tank springs a leak and your car begins to overheat. Just be sure to replace your drinking water every once in a while if your car gets really hot—some bottles can leach chemicals when overheated.


Granola cereal barsThere’s no reason to go hungry in the car. Keep a few nonperishable snacks like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruit in the car to keep you going if you get stuck in traffic on the way to dinner.


sweatersYou should always have at least a sweater stashed in your backseat. It will come in handy if the weather unexpectedly shifts. It’s also vital to have warm clothes or blankets in your car if you live in a cold area and might get stuck in a snowstorm for hours on end.


  1. Pile of Clumping Cat LitterCAT LITTER

If your car gets stuck in the ice, snow, or mud, you can use kitty litter as a makeshift traction mat. Sprinkle it in front of the tires to give them better grip. Sand works, too, though you’re more likely to have cat litter on hand around the house. Just be sure it’s not the clumping kind.


first aid kitKeep a first aid kit with basics like bandages, gauze, disinfectant, scissors, tweezers, and gloves. While you’re at it, throw in a whistle and a flashlight, too.



  1. Aviator sunglassesEXTRA SUNGLASSES

It can be dangerous to drive without a pair of shades, especially when the sun is low on the horizon or when there’s a lot of snow to cast glare. Don’t risk being blinded by the sunset or a really bright winter day.


cell phone car chargerYou want to be able to use your cell phone in an emergency, so keep a portable charger on hand in case your battery goes dead. It’ll also come in handy during all manner of “emergencies,” whether that means a flat tire or not being able to check Google Maps for the nearest cup of coffee.

  1. BAGS

multi-colored plastic bagsNeed to clean up a bunch of trash from a weeks-old fast food runs? Suddenly realize your passenger gets carsick easily? Headed to the grocery store? Keep some bags—plastic, paper, and even reusable cloth totes—to clean up messes and carry goods to and from your car.


Chocolate chip cookieDid we mention the importance of snacks? They’re for emergencies! Delicious, delicious emergencies.

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  1. N .hristou says

    Very helpful ideas , I love all of them and a good reminder for the ones I knew but not use. Thank you

  2. Bob Murray says

    It would be nice if you had an option, to print these handy hints, without all the other clutter.
    i.e. no pictures

  3. Marlaina Pipal says

    clean cloth to wipe windshield of condensation before defroster disperses it, and for spills, or other fluids, and goop,

    money, enough cash for tolls, parking, cab, motel

    dog food for day or two

    paper or notepad for messages or signs if needed

    waterproof jacket, gloves

    road flares, not just one but two or 3, or emergency markers and know how to use them
    in below freezing regions, warm sleeping bag or wood or down blanket, wool socks,
    and in snow or ice regions almost ALL year: chains (October – June 1st week in northern hemisphere) or 4 wheel drive with good tread depth on tires.

    I bring pop top canned lentil soup or other protein meal and exchange it in less than 6 months.

    In Bear Territory from about 3,400 feet elevation and above:
    Just don’t leave open or fresh foods and fruit, chips or leftovers in vehicle in bear country or one may break in to eat what it smells or sees.
    Cover coolers with fabric or towel. They recognize coolers.
    Always close the windows all the way overnight or if not near it in day unless dogs are inside to fend off bear.
    Racoons at any location have entered vehicles and boats to forage foods, too. My car interior was smeared with plums in the bay area after raccoons feasted.

  4. Jia says

    Some input from a mother of many…oh so many children who lives in Wisconsin where it is 70 degrees one day and snowing the next:

    Fix-a-flat is good when you get a flat and it’s -15 so you can make it to a service station or somewhere warm. Always have books for the kids. Electronics drain the battery and toys cause fights. HIGHLY agree with the wipes! I always carry a Swiss Army knife in the glove box and a flashlight too. As far as the snacks, I agree that we don’t need to snack all the time, but I for one have low blood sugar so have become used to having glucose tablets ($1 for a roll at Walgreens) for a quick sugar boost and then some nuts for longer-lasting protein. Sunflower seeds, beef jerky…all good.

    As far as bags go, I have a paper gift bag that stands up beside my seat that serves as a trash can, and I line it with a plastic grocery bag. That way when it fills up, I just tie up the plastic bag and get rid of it at a gas station or at home and re-line with a new one. My kids have water bottles that I refill at gas stations so I NEVER pay for drinks and the water is clean and fresh (they have two sets so yes, I occasionally get to wash them…)