We spend a lot of time in the car. On average, Americans spend 294 hours driving their cars every year (that's over twelve days worth of driving!). It's safe to say that your vehicle really is your home-away-from-home. Storing a few handy items in your ride is the easiest way to insure you're prepared for every scenario, without having to lug a bunch of stuff around in your bag or purse. Each season brings with it different needs for yourself and your car, so we've complied a handy car essentials list, season by season. Is your car ready?
What to Keep in Your Car in the Spring
- An Umbrella: When you think of spring, usually two things come to mind: flowers and rain. Don't get caught off guard by a sudden storm! Stow an umbrella away in your car ahead of time.
- Air freshener: Some fresh air is nice all year, but it's especially true during the rainy season. Having all those muddy feet entering and exiting your car is sure to leave it smelling a little not-so fresh.
- Moist towelettes: This is also always welcome in your car essentials kit, but is doubly-handy when everything (and everyone) is muddy from the rain.
- Tissues: Springtime also means pollen. Achoo!
- Allergy medication: Sometimes you underestimate the power of pollen. Don't get stuck in the middle of running errands with a running nose.
- An extra pair of sunglasses: Rejoice! Winter is over! This means the sun is out longer, and an extra pair of shades in the car could help shield your eyes from the bonus rays of sun.
- AAA Card: Don't get stranded or locked out of your car during your spring break travels.
What to Pack in Your Vehicle in the Summertime
- Sunblock: Sunshine is a wonderful thing, but you should always be cautious of too much sun exposure. Be prepared by carrying sunscreen in your car (driver's tan is no joke!).
- Bug spray: Same goes for bug spray, especially if you live in more mosquito-laden areas!
- Ratchet straps: Whether you're helping your friend move a couch, or you need to take your canoe to the lake, ratchet straps are car essentials 101.
- Beach towel or picnic blanket: You already have your sunscreen in the car, make sure you carry a blanket or towel for impromptu trips to the beach!
- Water bottle: It's always a good idea to keep water in your car, but it's especially true in the summertime. If your car is older, it could overheat. Or you could overheat! Keep your water in a glass bottle; plastic bottles leach chemicals when they get hot.
- First aid kit: Keep this in your car essentials kit every season. Use it when you get a little too rambunctious on your summer adventures.
- Flashlight: If your car were to break down at night, you'd want a flashlight (and not just the one that comes with your smartphone). Plus, once you've returned to safety, you can use your flashlight to retell the scary story of how you got stranded on the side of the road in the dark. Spooky!
Pack Your Car with These Things in the Fall
- Blanket: When autumn breezes its way in, the temperatures drop! Keep an extra blanket in the car for when you get chilly.
- Extra jacket or sweater: You can never be too comfy in the fall.
- Tire pressure gauge: When the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Make sure you're on top of your wheels by checking the tire pressure more frequently than you would during the warmer months.
- Hand lotion & lip balm: Few things are as frustrating as having chapped lips and no lip balm. Designate a tube of chapstick for your car. Same goes for hand lotion, so pack a travel sized bottle of that, too.
- Phone charger: As school swings back into session, your daily commute through traffic will be longer. Don't be stuck with a dead cellphone halfway through your drive.
- Advil: All that extra traffic might bring on extra headaches, too.
- Multi-tool: Because you never know when you'll need to tighten a bolt, open a bottle of beer, or whittle a stick to roast marshmallows over an open fire.
Carry These in Your Car During the Winter
- Jumper cables: Sometimes cars don't start, and that's just a fact of life. Always be prepared with jumper cables in your car, especially in the winter.
- Jump starter: What's worse than having your car not start in the middle of winter? Having it not start in the middle of nowhere. Jumper cables won't do you much good if no one is around to give you a jolt. This Husky 12-volt power source is not only handy for giving your car battery a start, but it can also charge your phone, inflate a low-pressure tire, and is equipped with an emergency light that flashes. It's basically a roadside superhero.
- Hand warmers: I don't know about you, but between late December to the middle of February, I feel like my hands never truly thaw out. This is especially true when I'm traveling in the car. Hand warmers will make your extremities feel alive again.
- Hand sanitizer: Get out of here, flu germs! Keep disinfectant handy for those times when you can't wash your hands with soap and water – like after you pump gas.
- Collapsible shovel: Keep this in your car if you live somewhere snowy. Mine collapses to fit under my front seat, and it has saved me from many an unexpected snow storm.
- Warm work gloves: Whether you're scraping the ice off your windshield or trying to put air in your tires, you'll have a much nicer time of it if your hands are warm. Keep an extra pair of sturdy work gloves (like these smartphone-compatible ones from Milwaukee) in the glove compartment for just such an occasion.
Some items belong in your car essentials kit all year round. Don't forget to always the following: Registration, proof of insurance, driver's manual, a car jack and a spare tire. It also doesn't hurt to carry a few quarters, too. You never know when you may have to pay for metered parking. Did we miss anything from our car essentials checklists? Let us know in the comments, and safe driving!
This post is sponsored by The Home Depot, but all opinions are mine alone. Working with great brands like The Home Depot enables us to pay for all the content you see on Curbly. Thanks for supporting us, and them!