Vehicle Supplies ~ Be prepared

Alrighty no more fooling around, let’s get those vehicles organized.  Of course you know what I’m going to say first right?  Empty them!  That’s right, start from a fresh slate.  Pull out the wrappers, the toys, the books, the games, the garbage, the makeup, the DVDs, the clothes, and whatever else has made it’s way into that vehicle of yours.  Pile it into a laundry basket so you can take it into the house and put it away where it belongs when you are done.  But not quite yet though, now is not the time to get distracted.  Stay focused 🙂

Take the time to do a vacuum and clean, something that is totally not my forte (to my husband’s standards anyway) so my husband does that job himself.   He hates it when the van’s dirty, I hate it when it’s disorganized.  We’re a good team that way! 🙂

Now here’s the fun part.  Stocking your vehicle 101.  I like being prepared for everything from emergencies, to traffic, to play including a beach stop on an unexpected sunny day.

I have summer stock and I have winter stock that I change out with the seasons.  Today since well it’s summer that’s what we’ll concentrate on.  First let’s make a list of what we need.  These are only suggestions based on what I keep in my van and are in no particular order:

  1. First aid kit
  2. Flashlight
  3. CD’s/DVD’s
  4. Gum
  5. Book (for when you are waiting around)
  6. Sunblock
  7. Hand lotion
  8. Snacks (granola bars work well)
  9. Water
  10. Notebook/Pen
  11. Extra garbage bags
  12. Hairspray (you never know when you might need a little squirt…priorities people!)
  13. Picnic blanket
  14. Reusable grocery bags
  15. Shovels/pails
  16. Lawn chairs (soccer chairs in our case)
  17. Change of clothes for younger kids (including extra diapers if needed)
  18. Toy basket
  19. Kleenex
  20. Antibacterial wipes
  21. Baby wipes
  22. Umbrella
  23. Sunglasses
  24. Paper towels
  25. Receiving blanket (great for spills)
  26. Sunflower seeds (awesome for keeping me awake while driving!)
  27. Tylenol (locked in glove box)
  28. Toilet seat covers (love these!)
  29. Lip balm/gloss
  30. Bug spray
  31. Maps

Now that you have a rough idea of what you need, we need to figure out a way to store it.  This is completely personal preference of course but for now I’ll show you how my stuff is organized.  Next week I’ll do a post on various vehicle organizers to give you an idea of what else is out there.


The essentials stored between the front seats using Kool Krates


Dollar store basket under back middle seat for my youngest ~ includes his Kid Kaddy, extra clothes, wipes and toilet seat covers.


I use an organizing bag to store his change of clothes but a ziploc bag would work also.


First aid kit basket (keeps it from sliding all over the place) stored under one of the seats


Sunglasses holder and garbage bag


Back of our van ~ includes portable cooler (in collapsible basket), reusable grocery bags, beach toys and chairs

I hope some of these ideas you find useful.  Having a well stocked vehicle absolutely lends itself to staying sane and being prepared.  Let me know how you are making out with yours or if you have any questions.

The post sponsored by The Dinner Solution ~ menu planning and freezer cooking made simple

Filed under: Travel/Auto Organization


40 Responses to Vehicle Supplies ~ Be prepared

  1. 1
    Heidi says

    I never thought to put things under the seats in BASKETS! DUH! I have most of the same things in my van, but I seem to find them all over the place every day. This is such a great idea! I also keep a small blanket for each kid under their seat because our weather here is so crazy that they have to dress for summer even though in the mornings it’s FREEZING! 🙂

  2. 2
    Nicole says

    No kids yet, but come October that will all change with a new baby! I’ll have to remember the basket-under-the-seat trick for HER/him (thinking it’s a “her”). Speaking of baskets, I did a post just the other day on my excessive use of baskets Why didn’t I think of baskets in the Jeep?!? LOL!

    Because I don’t have kids yet, I don’t have all the toys but I do have several of the things listed. I have some organizers, but it is definately time to re-organize the organizers. One of the things I love is my big First Aid kit, as a first responder I have a TON of stuff in it, it has velcrow (sp?) on the bottom so it actually sticks to the carpet and won’t slide around. How cool is that!?

    I’m all excited about cleaning out the Jeep now…I may even get adventurous and clean my hubby’s truck while he’s out of state this week!

  3. 3
    Wendy Sice says

    Shopping bags,shopping bags, I must remember the shopping bags! (Oh,and the tissues, cds and)…hey, where’s your streetguide? We have a GPS, but you’ve got to have a streetguide to fall back on. Otherwise, as usual, very impressive!

  4. 4
    Ally0005 says

    I’ve got mine Van all done and it has stayed that way. Love how the baskets help so much.
    Can’t wait to show ya.

  5. 5
    Kristen says

    Thanks! This was helpful! I’m totally printing this list off and reorganizing my van. It needs a makeover! My Future SIL sent this to me and I’m grateful! Adding you to the blog roll!

  6. 6
    [email protected] says

    Great suggestions! This is so over-needed at my house. Thanks for the inspiration. Guess I’m in the market for a whole lot of baskets.

    Got any suggestions for fitting a double stroller in with all that?

  7. 7
    Laura says

    They don’t make those trunks big enough do they. I’m no longer in the stroller stage but I remember when I was how frustrated I use to get with the lack of space back there.

  8. 8
    Allison says

    What a great set of ideas! As always, I love your lists. My biggest problem is my hubby. He has “empty van syndrome” where as he likes the van EMPTY (except of course for HIS sunglasses. Those are important!) So, I often find that I get somewhere and the car blanket is no longer in the car. The CD I was listening to yesterday is gone. The suckie for the baby is no longer in the van. ARG!!!!

    I think that the baskets might help with his idea of too cluttered to stay in the van. I am going to make this my project to do in the next few weeks!

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

  9. 9
    Laura says

    Yes baskets will definitely help contain everything. You could even use a basket with a lid on it to further contain it.

  10. 10
    Jen says

    What great ideas! I have a summer “bag” that I keep a lot of the essentials in, but it ends up in the house somehow. In place of a picnic blanket, I use a queen size sheet. It folds compactly and is SO easy to wash. You can also use 2 sheets sewn together if you want more of a barrier.

    I’ll be searching for the perfect baskets to organize my van this week!

  11. 11
    Buffie says

    I really need to get my car cleaned out. It is such a mess right now. Hubby’s solution to where to store stuff we don’t want in the house while it’s showing is to throw it in the cars. That drives me nuts. It’s bad enough he has stuff in his car, but now he’s adding junk to mine.

  12. 12
    Amanda says

    What an incredibly helpful post, thank you!!! We have five kids crammed into our van. If each of them bring one toy or one snack into the car, it’s suddenly messy because there is *no* room to spare. These kits are great and they’d go perfectly into our stow-and-go, which we have not gotten much use out of since we bought the car three years ago.

  13. 13
    Ann says

    I did pick up the crates for the CDs like you have (we have very similar vans – mine is a 2002) and it gives me SO much more room for the cds and I can get to them even with a drink in the drink holder. What do you keep in that open compartment under the radio/climate control stuff? That is where I kept my CDs but I much prefer them where they are now. But now I have this big space open and don’t know what to use it for! Any thoughts? I thought a boutique box of tissues but when you pull a tissue, the whole box comes out so that doesn’t work. Thoughts would be appreciated!

  14. 14
    Hope Cantrall says

    OK…I am inspired now!

    The items I ALWAYS have in my van are a roll of paper towels, container of clorox wipes, container of baby wipes and a first aid kit. I cannot tell you the number of times I have needed them when we are somewhere…often I am getting them out of my van for someone else who needs them….also bug spray & sunscreen in the summer. Your list of items are brilliant! I am gonna have to take a before pic of the inside of my van! It’s the worst it’s been in months right now!!!

  15. 15
    Kristen S says

    GOsh, you really do organize everything! I really give you a lot of credit! You are an organizational inspiration! Thanks for all your tips!

  16. 16
    Rhonda B says

    I can tell from the photos you have a different type van than I do… which just means I’ll have to re-work some of your ideas! Our seats are not open underneath in the middle like yours. Our back bench seat is BUT the baskets would slide out into the “trunk”. We are still in stroller phase. I hate stroller phase. It takes up so much room. My husband has empty vehicle syndrome too like someone else who posted.

  17. 17
    Laura says

    Maps and bug spray! I’d better add those to the list above. Maps never occurred to me but that’s only because we live in such a small town we only have three stop lights and a traffic jam consists of three cars in a row 🙂

  18. 18
    Laura says

    Hope yes I should have reminded everyone to take their before pictures for the end of the month round-up. Thanks!

  19. 19
    Abbie says

    I love this post Laura! I am such a list person, but I never have the “right things” stowed away in our car…especially those emergency items. I usually keep our updated insurance card, and emergency assistance memebership card in the glove box. I also keep an updated list of Sunday Mass times in the car for the 7 churches in our area in case we don’t go to our parish. Similar to you, we keep clean cloth diapers and those disposable scented diaper bags in the car for throw-up accidents or really bad spills. Oh, and I keep the reusable grocery bags near my infant seat because I usually get the baby out last. With a toddler in tow and a baby in the other arm, I can’t open the trunk well. Thanks again for such a wonderful post!

  20. 20
    Katie @ 3Blondes&... says

    We recently got a van and I’ve felt so out of sorts trying to develop a new organizational system for all of our stuff. My gym magazine goes flying all over because there’s no where to put it yet! I’m loving the front seat crate idea…I need to work on that this weekend!

  21. 21
    mom22 says

    My truck is always a mess!! I’ll have to use some of these ideas. The only one I have a problem with is the Tylenol in the glove box. Medicines should never be stored in extreme temperatures (even the bathroom is too hot during showers). Better leaving that one in your purse/diaper bag and bringing it back and forth (in a child resistant bottle, of course).

  22. 22
    Kate says


    It’s a no no to keep your sunglasses in the car. The sunlight destroys the UVA rays in the lenses.

  23. 23
    Laura says

    Mom22, great point!

    Kate, really? I had no idea, yikes!

    Thanks ladies!

  24. 24
    Ann says

    Oh – another thought of what we’ve kept in the car: a spray bottle of water with a few drops of lavendar and a couple of small hand towels. I hate the stickiness of baby wipes so with the spray and the towels, it really makes a nice wash-up.

    One other idea is to keep a disposable camera in the car in case of being in an accident. My daughter recently had an accident and the police and insurance company said that is the BEST thing to do at an accident site – get pictures. Of course if you have a phone with this capability, it will work but for those of us with cheap pre-paid phones, a disposable camera works great. Just replace the camera yearly. 🙂

  25. 25
    Declutter Blog says

    This is a great post. So many times when I clean my car out, I don’t want to put anything back. This has reminded me that there are important items that need to be put back. Thanks.

  26. 26
    Heather says

    Thank you for a great list! I love the basket idea- we are still in stroller stage but i’ll be measuring for under the seats.
    (I also keep heavy duty maxi pads both in my first aid and in my cleanup box – great for drink spills instead of the whole roll of paper towels)

  27. 27
    Lisa says

    Wow! I thought we had to be the only family that keeps sunflower seeds in the car!!! Ok, I’m started I got two bags of trash out of there…..

  28. 28
    Charlene says

    I like the idea mentioned by one commenter of the velcro–keeps it removeable, but hopefully not a flying missile in case of an accident.

  29. 29
    Regina says

    ok any chance you could write a list of the necessities for winter as I am in australia and desperately need to sort out my car. It is a pigsty.

  30. 30
    Vanessa says

    OMG!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! I don’t know how I never thought of it myself! Baskets?!?
    I just got my car cleaned of the garbage now I can’t wait to vacuumed and organize!!

  31. 31
    brandi says

    What a great idea to have baskets in the car! I am just getting on the organizational track and think it’s pretty addicting! I have an infant and toddler so am in the stroller phase as well and it takes up so much room that I usually just wear my lil one in a wrap. But the one thing about my Expi that I don’t like is that I don’t think baskets will fit under the seat but I am going to find something that will work!

    Great idea about the velcro too! Very useful!

    I took my before pictures and now on to fix it up mode!

  32. 32
    Amy says

    Great List! Just remember that in a car accident everything not tied down in the car becomes a missile. I would suggest a container with a lid that can be tied down with bungee cords. 🙂

  33. 33
    Chris says

    Great way to organize even in your car. But do yourself a favor and think about the environment for just a moment: every unnecessary item you drive around in your car just “to be prepared” eats up more gallons of fuel more quickly.
    Keep most of the stuff in your garage, prepare for your trips and take only what you really need.

  34. 34
    sue says

    I live in Indiana so winters are bad. I keep candles in my car , can warm up car if you get stuck, keep matches in bandage can keeps them dry. also old shower curtins work on ground if you have to work on car. I also keep those hand warmers in package. they can keep you warm too. I have a covered cake pan under seat with coloring book and markers in it. top can be used for table for kids. I also keep a set of clothes for me in car. I can spill things as fast as kids can. I use milk crates to keep things in my van. I have a dried fruit mix kept in zip lock bags. I keep jar of peanut butter and crackers. I also have a box of tools hammer, plyers, both screwers, duck tape ( to put over husbands mouth), bungee cords. extra big trash bags and a old rug. I also keep cat litter to help on snow .

  35. 35
    Abby says

    Got my first car today, just finished cleaning my mom’s stuff out of it. Went to put my stuff in, and realized that I had no stuff to put in. Figured it was time to hit the internet to find some ideas for stuff to put in, I had the tissue idea down, but other than that I was at a dead loss! Thanks for the ideas 🙂

  36. 36
    Jessica says

    Love this! I’m a bit of a junkie myself and drive my husband crazy with my organizing…but then again, when he asks where something is located (which he does for evvvverything), I always know the answer. I bought an awesome camping gear organizer bag made by Kelty which has 3 bags inside of one larger bag and label slots on the smaller bags. 1) kid stuff, 2) car stuff (outside the normal emergency kit), and 3) reusable shopping bags. We drive a Hummer, so there is plenty of space, but not very many smart storage solutions. I also use the seat-backs & door pockets for various items. Something I have not seen mentioned here is a multi-tool/knife, head-lamp, or pepper-spray. I also keep a pair of work gloves in the car stuff kit…just in case. The head-lamp I have used a ton of times for night-time diaper changes, searching under seats for stuff, and I don’t know the number of times my husband has grabbed it for various uses (and nevvver puts it back, which is a totally different story). I always keep the large can of pepper spray in the driver’s side door just in case of an attacker…better safe than sorry. Most recently, it was used to keep a bull from slamming his horns into the side of the truck…yes, we live in TX & yes, he was starting to charge! Lovvvve your shopping bag holder, I may have to get one of those & repurpose my 3rd gear bag. Thanks for the continuous great ideas!


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