It’s been 13 years since my dad first took me to the high school parking lot in his 1989 Toyota 4Runner for my first driving lesson. I was terrified and excited as I asked if I was doing alright gliding slowly around the lot. To which he replied, “yes but those white lines are parking spaces and you’re hitting all the invisible cars! AH! AHH!”
My father’s one for theatrics.
It was six years before my first serious accident where I rolled my jeep over on a winding, lakeside road. Since then I’ve been in one or two (or five) accidents and a few sticky situations.
That makes me an expert on all the things that one should have in their car (obviously). So, without further a-story of reckless driving, here’s my list of ten crucial things you should have in your car:
First Aid Kit
To be fair, you should also have one in your house and place of work. You can those ready made kits for cheap or even just put a few crucial items in a box or bag (band aides, gauze, anti-inflammitories, disinfectant hand wipes, antiseptic ointment, etc). You never know when a random, bloodied woman is going to run out of the woods toward your car. That happened.
Cell Phone Charger
At the very least you should have a car charger but it’s worthwhile to have a wall charger as well in case you’re staying somewhere. We all know your smart phone isn’t going to make it through the night, especially if you keep posting photos of your friend’s dog on the Gram.
Because job interviews and dates and just not having to worry about your breath.
Plus, good oral health means good health (yeah this is me telling you to floss); there have been some serious studies linking poor oral health practices to Endocarditis, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, premature birth and other conditions.
Smelling nice is nice. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to a party and realized on my way to work the next day that my sweater smells like a smokey patio, a bonfire or a bar. Should I change my clothes more often? Probably. Has the tiny travel bottle of Febreeze I keep in my car saved me a few times. Yep.
On that note, a travel deodorant in the glove box is not a bad idea.
You know that envelope Les Schwab gives you after you get new tires? Or the page-long receipt from the mechanic after an oil change? Keep the newest version of every form you have on your vehicle inside your car along with your insurance card and registration. The day that you break down or get in an accident and have to get towed to a mechanic you’ve never seen before is not the day to start thinking about paperwork. Give the person working on your car all the information about it’s previous performance that you can.
Jumper Cables/Tool Kit
My first car was a 1990 Toyota Camry with 210,000 miles and a huge chemical stain on it. Yeah, I come from money. That car was the best car ever and by “best car” I mean it broke down every single time I drove it. It got so bad that I eventually started carrying a small crowbar so I could hit the starter with it.
I hope you never have a car like this, but if you do have small problems, like a drained battery or a flat tire, you should be able to at least get everything in working order to get yourself to a mechanic.
At the very least you should have a map of your state or city. I have an atlas of all fifty states, Canada, and Mexico that cost me about $20 a few years ago. It’s not like it’s ever going to change enough to need an update so one will last a lifetime. You don’t want to be in a no service area when you realize GPS isn’t everything.
A Space Blanket/Extra Clothes
Even just a warm coat. You never know when or where you’ll get stranded. Beyond that though I’ve used my little blanket a something to sit on at outdoor events, a makeshift towel, and, once, for an injured woman going into shock.
I would honestly put this in my car just for the glorious realization that you do have a coat on the chilly nights you think you’ve forgotten one.
One decent sized water bottle full of water can be a life saver whether you’re parched or just need to get something off your hands. A liter bottel fits nicely under a passenger seat (right next to your first aid kit).
If you live in a place with no snow or snowy mountains nearby, this one’s not for you. If you, however, live in a not particularly snowy area like me (Seattle) but occasionally have to drive over a mountain range to get to your parents house, it’s worth having boots.
I have used them while digging my tires out on a particularly terrible trip, but I have also used them when it snowed or rained more than the shoes I’d worn cared to deal with.
Welp, that’s my ten things for this week. If you don’t have a car, please don’t feel like you have to carry jumper cables around in your backpack.
Best of luck!