I’m an organizer at heart, and I like to be prepared. My husband jokes that we could pay a utility bill if we collected all the five and ten dollar bills I have in jacket and bag pockets for emergencies. Being prepared is no joke, however, especially if you want to be ready to say yes to any outdoor adventures that might arise on your travels. And it doesn’t hurt to have some cash ready in case you forget your wallet and need a coffee on the way home!
I have always kept an emergency bag in the car, especially as Smalls is still in diapers and is prone to car sickness. I still think it’s an incredibly useful thing to have as they get older, and I like to bring it into the house every so often and update what’s in it. I find that the change of season is a perfect opportunity, as what we might need alters and that gives me a chance to update what size clothes and diapers are in there too. Spring and Fall are probably the hardest because we need things for all seasons. I still want to keep winter things like spare hoodies and hats, but I need to add in sunscreen and sunglasses.
I used to keep everything in a duffel bag on the floor below Small’s car seat, but as he’s getting older and can climb in and out himself, things were getting pretty messy. Recently I bought an organizer for the trunk and I couldn’t be happier, as it keeps everything neat and stowed away (we rarely use this stuff) and I can still fill the trunk up with groceries.
I like that it has different pockets, and I can use these for different things depending on if they are used occasionally or only stored for emergencies. And as it’s attached to the headrests with straps that clip together, it’s pretty easy to remove if we need the storage space.
Here’s what I keep in the bags:
1. Emergency Clothes
I have one large resealable clear plastic bag for each kid with a fresh set of clothes, plus a hoodie. Smalls has a diaper, some wipes, and a few diaper sacks in there. At this time of year, I keep long pants and long shirts in the bag, but if there’s room I might throw a t-shirt in too. I squeeze out as much air as possible and seal them up, and they take up surprisingly little room. I can then comfortably forget about them, and if we have any unforeseen falls in rivers, car sickness episodes, or potty training accidents, we’ll be good to go. When Smalls starts wearing underwear regularly I’ll probably keep another set of clothes in the car, on the assumption he’ll need to be changed fairly often. The clothes in the organizer are true forget-they-are-there emergency clothes, and I don’t want to have to constantly restock them, leaving a chance I forget one time. I keep a couple of diapers and a pack of wipes in an easy to access pocket so that I don’t need to carry a diaper bag with me anymore.
2. Spring Appropriate Gear
What does this cover? Well, I’ll leave in the warm hats and gloves and the lightweight down blanket. Even at this time of the year, if we got stuck somewhere early morning or later in the evening, it could be cold. But now I’ll be adding sunscreen, bug spray, and spare sunglasses if we have them. I usually get the kids new, cheap sunglasses every year. UV rated, obviously, but as we go through two or three pairs a year between losing them and breaking them, I don’t want to spend a fortune. I’ll dig out some old ones from last year (a little scratched or bent is fine) to keep in the bag in case someone forgets their regular pair.
We have a park close by with a large sandbox, so I always keep a bucket and shovel and a couple of sand toys in the car. While not essential (there are always things to be found in the park that the kids can use if they’re resourceful enough), it does usually extend our time there if we bring sand toys, so I like to keep them in the car so I don’t have to think about them.
3. Snacks and Water
All the snacks.
On any given day you’re likely to find four or five trail bars in my purse. My boys are constantly hungry, and as I say, I like to be prepared. I keep a stash of snacks as true emergency supplies in the car organizer too, though. When I update the organizer, I check dates as these are often getting to the end of their shelf life. If I catch them in time I can swap them out for more recent purchases, and feed the old ones to the kids that day or the next, so I don’t end up with any waste. I also keep a small bottle of water in the emergency supplies. Normally the boys bring reusable water bottles that we fill up before each trip, but I like to keep a spare handy. I’ve used it in the past to clean dog poo from shoes before we drove home! You never know when you might need it.
I don’t keep much in this section, but I like to stick in some paper and crayons, and maybe a couple of toy cars. Just in case we get stuck somewhere and won’t be driving for a while, these can be good to have on hand. Normally I keep a couple of activities like this in my purse for every-day trips to eat out or waiting rooms, so these rarely sees the light of day.
I keep a flashlight, lighter, first aid kit, matches in a waterproof container, a state road map, and if I remember, a battery charger that is already charged up.
What am I forgetting? Hopefully, nothing! But I’d love to hear what else you keep in your emergency bag if you have one. Let me know in the comments.