What’s in your trunk? Three things to carry at all times…

Last night, I heard from a friend who lives in Atlanta. If you haven’t heard, Atlanta was hit with a snow and ice storm yesterday, and as Atlanta is an area that rarely sees this kind of weather, most of the highways were impassable. She said it took her seven hours and 10 minutes to get home — normally, a 30-minute commute. With the severe weather we’re seeing all over the country right now, I believe everyone should be prepared, even minimally, for a situation in which you may not reach your destination due to weather or other complications. What’s in your vehicle’s trunk right now? At a bare minimum, I recommend you carry:

  • A sleeping bag or blanket
  • A case of bottled water
  • A few boxes of granola bars or other non-perishable, high-protein food items

These are easy things to carry with you, and they just may save or protect you in a surprise situation where you’re spending far more time in your vehicle than you planned. I have always been diligent about keeping these three things in the trunk or back of each of our vehicles. You just never know what can happen — in any climate. Several years ago our entire family got stuck in a snowstorm behind an accident on a bridge (on Thanksgiving Day!) for more than eight hours while we waited for an overturned truck to be removed from the bridge. We were so glad we had things to eat and drink, as well as something to stay warm with. If you have room in your vehicle for those things and a backpack, here’s another extra step toward preparedness that you might wish to take:

This backpack takes up very little room in the car, but look what’s inside:

Inside, I’ve got a full change of clothing for each one of our young kids, a change of clothes for one adult, winter hats and gloves, a first aid kit, a tub of baby wipes, and some coloring books and crayons for our children in the event that we’re stuck somewhere for an extended period of time. This is a standard size backpack, and I’ve packed it with:

  • Three winter hats
  • Three pairs of gloves
  • An adult-size pair of sweatpants
  • An adult-size sweatshirt
  • An adult-size pair of socks
  • A tub of baby wipes
  • A first aid kit
  • A bag of crayons and two coloring books
  • Two children’s zipper hoodies
  • Two children’s long sleeve shirts
  • Two children’s pairs of underwear and socks
  • Two old pairs of children’s shoes
  • Two pairs of children’s jeans

That’s a lot of stuff that packs into a small space!

I have a backpack like this in each of our vehicles, and it’s been helpful in non-emergency situations too, such as a child getting carsick, or one who jumped into a large mud puddle & soaked his shoes, socks and jeans right when we’d arrived at our destination..! I don’t think you can ever go wrong having extra clothing in the car for kids. One last thing that I also keep in each car – a beach towel:

Due to our son’s polyester allergy, I keep the towel on the seat that he sits on, but you could also put it in the backpack. If someone gets carsick, you’ll be grateful that you’ve got a big towel in the car — and in an emergency, it can double as a second blanket too. Stay safe out there this winter!


  1. J.R. says

    Do remember that everything that you carry in the car costs money. The more it weighs, the more often it’s in the car, and the lower your vehicle’s gas mileage, the more it costs to carry “stuff” with you all the time.

    Not saying you shouldn’t carry emergency supplies, just reminding you to beware of the cost of hat you do carry.

    Get rid of the junk that accumulates in the car.

  2. addicted says

    I have similiar supplies in my car. And more than once, the extra pairs of gloves and winter hats have come in handy. The blankets are used regularly – my kids love to snuggle in them while we’re driving. Thanks for the important reminder!

  3. naisula says

    Yes, good things to have in the car — we also carry a small shovel in the car with an extendable handle. You never know when that might come in handy — digging yourself or someone else out of the snow…

    I wonder if there’s a way to prevent the bottled water from freezing?

  4. mjheinzer says

    I also have my teenagers carry boots, extra coats and gloves along with blankets and other supplies. The first time they drove to school alone they walked out the door like most teens do, way underdressed for the weather.( I actually think it was November and one of them had on a sundress with a denim jacket and huraches sandals,and yes,I admit I have given up that battle). They drive almost 20 miles along some pretty desolate roads to school and they don’t always have a cell phone fully charged. At least if they have to walk I don’t worry about them being warm enough.

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