16 Things to Keep in Your Car

Be the road warrior you always dreamed you’d be.

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Things to keep in your car

When my partner and I were doing the LDR thing my junior and senior years of college, I spent an insane amount of time on the road…so much so that I joked with my housemates that I was basically living out of my car.

Having a couple of basic things in my car made my life way easier while traveling long distances – and those same things are perfect for those of you who are hitting the road this summer break, whether you’re road tripping to the beach, a music festival, or dropping in on your college friends.

Note: These aren’t exactly the type of things that will help in an #actualemergency, like a car accident, flat tire situation, or the zombie apocalypse. For a pretty awesome and extensive list of things to have in your car for emergencies, check out Lifehacker‘s list.

1. A (couple) pairs of sunglasses

Top row: 1, 2, 3 | Middle row: 1, 2, 3 | Bottom row: 1, 2, 3

Nothing is worse than driving into the sun for hours on end without sunglasses – I’ve amassed quite the collection of gas-station sunglasses for this very reason. Do yourself a favor and buy a pair or two that you love and designate them for your center console and your bug-out bag (see below!).

2. An umbrella

For those of you in temperamental climates, this is a must. How many times have you left the house to a sunny day, only to find yourself caught in a torrential downpour when you arrived at your destination? Save yourself the headache – and ruined blowout – and stash an umbrella in your trunk.

3. A light jacket

Top: 1, 2, 3 | Middle: 1, 2, 3 | Bottom: 1, 2, 3

Summer nights can be unseasonably cold here in the mitten, and nothing is a bigger bummer than shivering around a fire while camping or partying. A cute sweater or a trusty flannel would also be a good alternative here.

4. A pair of sneakers

Once the temps hit 60 or so, all I want to wear is sandals, which is totally fine until you need to do any extensive walking or it starts raining. Keeping a pair of sturdy close-toed sneaks (and maybe a few clean pairs of socks!) in your backseat or your trunk will not only keep your toes dry if it starts sprinkling, but will help prevent icky blisters later.

5. A hat

Top: 1, 2, 3, 4 | Bottom: 1, 2, 3

I’ve found that, when I’m traveling, I don’t always have access to a shower or dry shampoo, so my hair can look pretty gnarly. Cue the hat! Bonus points for a visor or brim that will protect your face from the sun while driving.

6. A phone charger that works in your car

If you’re like me and rely on your phone for navigation (and maybe don’t charge your phone every night?), making sure it has enough juice to get you to your destination is paramount. Keeping a spare charger in your car can save you from getting lost or stranded.

7. Some Cash

Because tolls are a thing. Try not to spend it at Sbux.

8. A tube of mascara and a red lipstick

This may seem really silly, as I’m sure most of you have a small makeup bag stashed in your purse, but it can never hurt to have extra just in case you spot a cutie or a co-worker and want to look pulled together.

Stick with a liquid lipstick, if possible, so you don’t up with melted lipstick all over your glovebox! Not that that’s ever happened to me…

9. Sanitary products of your choice

Like you don’t have these stashed everywhere in your life already. No? Just me? Moving on…

10. Water

Buy a 12-pack at Costco or Sam’s and stash it in your trunk. (FYI, you don’t want to store plastic water bottles where they’ll be exposed to sunlight for long periods.) I often find I get dehydrated on long car trips to keep from peeing every five minutes, or I buy a bunch of sugary drinks to stay awake. Having water on hand helps me from grabbing an energy drink every time I get gas.

11. Snacks

As a card-carrying member of Team Always Hungry, I like stashing non-perishable / non-melty / healthy-ish snacks in my car so I’m less likely to wreck myself on gas station potato chips when a craving hits. I like snacks like fruit leather, pistachios, or beef jerky, but you do you bb.

12. A ‘bug out’ bag

Totes: 1, 2, 3 | Backpacks: 1, 2, 3 | Duffles: 1, 2, 3

Traveling is a breeze if you know you have everything you need in one place. Get yourself a tote bag, a backpack, or a weekender duffle bag (better yet, use one of your old grade-school backpacks or borrow some unused luggage from your family) and pack it with the following items (numbers 13-16 below).

Then, when your roommate calls you up and invites you to a last-minute party at her place across the state, you can get there no sweat knowing you’ll be covered.

13. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

There’s nothing worse than waking up after traveling and realized you forgot these. Stash a travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush in your bug out bag and never forget again.

14. A Travel Sized Deodorant

See above.

15. An extra pair of underwear, socks, and a bra

This probably seems very, very boy scout to have, but you never know when your summer involves surprise water balloon fights or jumping into lakes fully clothed. #justsayin

16. While you’re at it, an extra outfit.

If you’re planning (or not planning!) on spending the night somewhere, having an extra outfit is a must. Try to pack something weather-flexible but simple, like a pair of shorts, a cute tee, and a flannel or jacket with sneakers, or a cute dress and sandals with a light cardigan.

What do you think?

What do you keep in your car? What are your must-haves for traveling in the summer? Let me know in the comments below! 

6 thoughts on “16 Things to Keep in Your Car”

  1. The bag is actually a great idea; I have an old drawstring bag with toiletries, a tshirt dress and plimsoles in my car and it’s saved me multiple times. Definitely a good idea to have a change of clothes because you never know!

  2. In the past I’ve stored things in my trunk that I don’t have room for in my apartment, but looking at this list has me thinking I need to make room for potential. Even liquid lip colour can melt and make a mess. I recently bought an expensive lip gloss to keep in my car, oops…it melted and ran all over my glovebox. Ouch.

  3. I am not a fan of keeping much stuff in a car. So my list would be shorter: sunglasses, water, TP (how’s it not on the list? :D), a bag and a map. Umbrella hmmmm… but ok, a spare one in those rainy months 😉

  4. NO! Do not store sunscreen in your car! The heat will cause it to go bad before you even start using it, and none of the UV block ingredients are stable at high temperatures. You’ll just turn it into nothing but white lotion!

  5. I would also suggest a reusable bag for not only grocery shopping but sometimes you just need an extra bag around.

    I also have in my car:
    Local area maps just in case I have no service
    Advil and a bunch of other random things but those are the ones that I use most often.


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