For many people, summertime means lots of time spent in your car, from running to various activities to taking road trips. Save your sanity and some money by packing a little pouch or bag to store in your car with things that you may need occasionally, but don’t want to carry in your purse or bag.
While you should have a car emergency and first aid kit in your trunk, this kit is for your personal mini-emergencies, like hygiene, clothing and other minor issues. If you have supplies to deal with the mini-emergencies that come up when you’re on the go, you’ll save time and money by avoiding stops at gas stations or convenience stores.
Since I carry a small purse, I can fit only the essentials, which leaves me without items that I may only use occasionally or in a mini-emergency. Even the essentials that I keep in my purse have a way of “wandering off” occasionally, like pens, ponytail holders and lip balm, so I finally decided to pack a little pouch of all the things I may need while I’m out and about. Most of the items that I put in the pouch are extras that I had around the house or free samples, but a dollar store is a good place to pick up some of these items, too. I put everything in a clear zippered pouch that a few bottles of sunscreen came in, but any small pouch or bag would work. Ideally, the pouch should be small enough to fit under your seat or in your glove box, so it’s easy to find without having to get in the trunk. Your first aid kit and car supplies can be stored in the trunk (which we’ll address in another post).
Your personal emergency kit will vary based on your needs, but here are some ideas that should work for many adults. You may want to pack a separate kit if you have kids or babies who will have other needs.
Health and Hygiene:
- Lip balm
- Hair implements: ponytail holders, bobby pins, a comb, little bottle of hairspray — whatever you use
- Small tube or foil sample packet of hand or body lotion
- Nail file
- Mini toothbrush and toothpaste or tooth brushing wipes
- Mini dental floss (see other uses for dental floss)
- 2-3 Band-aids (should also have some in your first aid kit in the trunk)
- Feminine hygiene items
- Mini deodorant
- Basic razor (if you’re prone to missing a few hairs around your knee that you only see once you’re in the car)
- Small packet of baby wipes: Even if you don’t have a baby, these can sub for toilet paper, face wipes, or to clean up dirt or sticky. If they dry out they can be re-wet easily, or used dry.
- Flushable wipes or a few squares of toilet paper (in lieu of baby wipes)
- Purse-size Kleenex
- Antacids, pain reliever, allergy medicine, and/or any other medicine that you regularly take (put these in a childproof pill container if there will ever be a child in or around your car, since pills look like candy)
- Non-perishable and non-chocolate snack: Think granola or energy bar, nuts, or pretzels. Just a pack or two that would sustain you until you have a chance to eat something more.
For clothing mishaps:
- Small lint roller
- On-the-go stain remover wipe or stick
- Safety pin
- Hotel sewing kit (or a threaded needle placed in an empty mint container)
- Double-stick “fashion” tape can sub for thread and needle for ripped hems, missing button, or a variety of clothing issues.
- Extra sunglasses: old ones that can be used a last resort when your other pairs disappear
- Pen and pencil
- Few small pieces of paper (3-4 post-it notes)
- Rubber band
- Small and large zipper baggie: wet clothes, messy garbage, keeping small items together, leftover food
- Plastic grocery bag (without holes in bottom): for car sickness, trash, wet or dirty clothes, to be held above head if caught in a storm without an umbrella, protect car seats or carpet from messy items
- Plastic spoon or fork, and a straw
- Small pocket knife, mini scissors, or a key-size multi-tool
- Money held with a binder clip or paperclip: Small bills and change for unexpected tolls, vending machines, or meters. I keep $10-$20 in my car for basic needs in case I lose my purse, but not enough that I would be devastated if it were stolen. You never know when a credit card system is going to be down at a gas station or store, and you’ll need a little cash.
- The binder clip or paper clip that you use as a money clip can be used to hold a fallen hem on pants, keep a broken zipper together, attach a broken strap, close a bag of snacks, clip coupons to your grocery list, or hold a stack of papers together.
- A list of phone numbers for a few family members and friends: just in case you don’t have their phone numbers memorized and your phone isn’t available to use.
This may seem like an extensive list, but all of the items are quite small and fit in a pouch that is about 5-by-7 inches. Having a personal emergency kit in the car has allowed me to sign birthday cards that I purchased on the way to a party, tame my appetite when I’ve been hangry (so hungry that I’m angry), and even help a bride get a spot of food off her wedding dress with a stain remover wipe.
As with all emergency kits, you should try to remember to replace the items that you use as you use them, but should check twice a year to make sure everything is replenished and not expired.
Other items that you should keep in the passenger portion of your car include a flashlight (test the batteries or buy an inexpensive hand crank flashlight), a cell phone charger and an umbrella.
While you’re getting these items together, it would be a good time to pack an emergency grab-and-go bag to keep at your house in case you need to leave suddenly.