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Here in my car/You won't sit on my stuff/I can find everything/Yes I do have a ti/DY CAR

(do doot dwee doot do doot dwee doot)

My family has always been spread out all over the Eastern US. I grew up with road trips. As an adult, that continued, plus I had jobs with commutes varying from 5 to 90 minutes.

I take a tidy car seriously. Part of this is my neurodivergence. I need to focus when I drive. If I have to root around for something, my brain will wander around the back seat. No one wants that.

I also need to feel prepared for things. Not disaster-level prepared. The kind of preparedness you develop when your parents have another kid while you're a teenager? Oldest sisters know what I mean.

I am not alone in having the unenviable combination of needing a lot of stuff in my car, and not liking that stuff to clutter up the joint. Get a minivan, you say? I don't wanna!

Here's a practical list of needs, good ideas, and (the reason you're here) where to put the things so you have space for the people and the pets!

1. Glove Box/Center Console: because all of these things are very small.

  • If you don’t already know to have your registration and user manual in your car, maybe you’re not ready to drive.

  • Loyalty cards with gas stations, or a AAA card. Yes, we all have the apps. Trust me, the day will come when you will need to do things like the olden days.

  • Phone charger

  • Swiffer: Not the handle, just the floofy bit. Allergy season!

  • Some quarters: I have an old pill bottle that I keep them in.

  • I keep a cheap pair of gloves in the glove box. Radical, I know.

2. Center console/Backseat/Doesn't matter as long as you can reach them.

  • A small first aid kit. This can be an “official” one that you buy somewhere, or it can be a baggie with some band-aids and an alcohol wipe in it. It’s just a good idea to keep handy, because people trip and fall and the world has a lot of sharp things.

  • Tissues.

  • Trash bag(s.) Some places no longer let stores use plastic bags, and lots of people bring their own bags with them. I try to do that, but as a human being, I forget sometimes, and thusly, I have a collection of plastic bags in my home. I keep a few of them stashed in my car for the trash that is produced from sniffles, spills, and “A McFlurry would taste so good right now.”

  • Paper and something to write with. Whenever I have a small square of paper, I bring it to my car and put it with the others. Great for impromptu lists.

  • Hand sanitizer. Wipes can freeze or dry out. Gel sanitizer does not. I'm not saying don't get wipes, just be aware.

  • Umbrella

  • Reusable shopping bags (if this is where you’ll remember them, for me, it's the trunk.)

M'kay, now where is all this going to go, so you don't have a big pile of crap in your car? Choose a tote bag. Not a massive one. Grocery store size or smaller. Put the things in that bag. That's the car bag now. That bag has a mission, a purpose! It is so proud!

If you don't think you'll need all of this (You kids rolling your eyes at my old lady suggestion of paper and something to write with? Like it's the nineteen hundreds?) at least have hand sanitizer, tissues, and a trash bag. You can put those in a small box that you can stash under the front seat. It's the car box. Glorious purpose!

3. Backseat/Trunk: A “Just in case” Bag/Box

  • Breath mints or gum

  • Lip balm

  • Small nail file

  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen

  • Needle and thread (Another good thing to put in a pill bottle if you don’t have a travel size version.)

  • Detergent stick/stain remover wipe

  • T-shirt (I have spilled iced coffee all down the front of me on the way to work and was saved because I happened to be coming home from a friend’s house and had an extra top in the car.)

  • Menstrual supplies

  • Ponytail holder

This is a lot, right? It seems like a lot. But that last photo in the gallery is my backseat at 10:30pm the night before this post goes live!

I have everything in the two lists above in my car. It all fits into my glove box, console, and a bag that's smaller than a grocery bag. Except the umbrella, but that is only because I like keeping my lightsaber umbrella in my car. Because it's a lightsaber umbrella.

Folks, I drive an Impreza. It's not big.

When my six foot tall son sits in the backset, he moves the tote bag over to the other hook and he is fine.

4. The Trunk

  • Jumper cables

  • Ice scraper (if you're in a region that gets it...SoCal won't need this.)

  • Shopping bags (if this is where you’ll remember them, it is for me.)

  • Donation/Return Box: If you are one of those people who get your donations or your store returns ready, but then you end up driving around with them in your trunk for months, plan for that! Get a sturdy box, put it in your trunk: Put a sticker on it and write the date that it has to be emptied by. Give yourself a few weeks. That way, the pressure isn't super high, and when you get it done early you will feel like a boss!

  • A road safety kit is a good idea, with flares, etc. You think about how much driving you do, though.

When I have an additional three people in my little car, the car bag that hangs on the back of the passenger seat gets moved to the floor, and everyone has room!

Yes, my trunk isn't completely empty and pristine, but that extra space holds a week's worth of groceries and assorted errands!

5. Should I buy something?

That's up to you. There's a lot you could buy, but there's only one thing that I have bought. Two, technically (it was one pack of two hooks.)

IPELY Universal Vehicle Headrest Hook:

I didn't think that getting these hooks would make such a big difference, but they do. I am a person that carries a purse, a often have another person that carries a purse in my car, and (as you can see) my car being both stocked and organized relies on having a tote bag that's accessible and easy to move!

There are a lot of headrest hooks that you can buy. Some are very pretty and can match your car's interior. Or they're sparkly and blingy! My car is old and stained. I wanted cheap, and easy to attach and remove, but still durable.

Turtle Wax 3 Section Trunk Organizer

Okay, I don't own this one. For years I had something similar, when I had a bigger car. I used it until it kind of fell apart, and I couldn't find a replacement that I really liked. Now, I don't think I really need it. I can find a lot of things that are fancier, or harder.

The Turtle Wax one is very close to what I had. Sturdy, three compartments, and collapsable. I don't think I'm going to be buying it, because my small trunk works pretty okay with what I'm doing now, but if you have a bigger trunk that groceries might wobble in, I would suggest this.

To the parents of young children:

Yes, I know. You need more.

Now, everything that I put here does apply to you as well. Do not ignore all of this. But yes. You always have more stuff when you go places, and more mess. So it's only fair that you are going to have your own entry.

Stay tuned!

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