You’ve got a summer bucket list, but are you REALLY ready for summer? Be prepared for whatever summer brings by creating a simple “summer adventure kit”…nine essential things every parent should keep in the car during summertime.
NOTE: THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I HAVE USED AND LOVED, BUT AS ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST DEALS. SEE MY DISCLOSURE TO LEARN MORE.
Truth: I’m giddy about summertime. I loathe being cooped up indoors, so once the good weather strikes, I’m all about heading for the hills in pursuit of adventure. We’ve got a great bucket list to keep us inspired, and I’m SOO looking forward to the extra time to spend together as a family now that school is out.
I’m planning to spend A LOT of time out and about in places like this…However, I’ve learned from experience that it’s important to be prepared when heading out on adventures. We’ve never had any major mishaps, but we have definitely found ourselves out and about and completely without diapers when someone had a blowout, or extra clothes when the kids got muddy, or a band-aid when someone got an invisible (but apparently very painful) owie.
Case in point: On our second day of summer, we met some friends for a pizza picnic at the park. It was a gorgeous, warm day and I was thrilled to have a break from all the rain we’ve gotten recently. We packed up our water bottles, sunscreen, food, and blanket and headed to the park.
The boys had a grand time playing with their friends at this park, which happened to border on a lovely man-made lake. The boys all asked if they could go down to the “beach”. I complied, knowing exactly how this was going to end…with soaking wet boys…and naked children in the back seat on the ride home.
My predictions were spot on. Within minutes, the boys were SOAKED (and smiling from ear to ear).
Their soggy adventures were fine with me; really, I love that my boys were able to play and create good memories. However, it would have been nice to have some extra clothes for them to change into…at least for the baby who wandered in up to his waist in the two seconds I took my eyes off of him. Whoops!
But that’s par for the course in summer. Play dates turn into unplanned adventures that result in wet, dirty, hungry boys. I wouldn’t have it any other way…and I can roll with the spontaneity of summer much more easily when I’m prepared.
I’ve had a Mom’s Emergency Kit in my car at all times for the past several years, and it has bailed me out more times than I can count in situations like these. Seriously, if you don’t have one in your car, go make one right now.
However, as life-saving as it has been, I realized during our lake escapade that my mom emergency kit had become pretty well depleted over the past months. So, once I got everyone home and dry, I took some time to restock and revise it to include items that are especially helpful to have during summer.
Here’s the new-and-improved “mom’s summer adventure survival kit”:
It only took about 20 minutes to pull everything together, and I’ve already used it TWICE since I put in the car yesterday afternoon.
So put on a Netflix show for the kids, and get yourself all set for summer! Do it NOW! I dare you. 🙂
Essential things to keep in your car this summer
Each family member in my house has his or her own water bottle (we hardly ever use cups…water bottles mean fewer spills and fewer dishes to do). Usually I throw these in the car every time we head out, but I also like to keep a few water bottles in the car…just in case. It’s perfect for drinking, washing sticky hands, etc.
Note: Some research has suggested that leaving plastic water bottles in a hot car for weeks at a time could be problematic, although admittedly that research is inconclusive. To avoid any concerns, check out this article about how to store water in the car safely (spoiler: use BPA free containers and store in the trunk out of direct sunlight).
2. Non-perishable snacks
Hangry kids (or parents) DO NOT make for a good adventure. It’s not uncommon for us to get a little carried away in our adventuring, and then for someone to suddenly shout out, “I’m HUNGRY!” My three little boys are constantly hungry, no matter how big of a meal I fed them an hour ago. Their little bodies are using up SO many calories when we’re out and about together, so I keep something to in the car at all times.
Here are some of my favorite non-perishable snacks to keep in the car for emergency snack attacks:
- granola bars
- trail mix
- goldfish crackers
- dried fruit
3. Outdoor blanket
I’ve had the same outdoor blanket for more than 10 years, and I LOVE IT! My best friend bought it for me as a birthday present, and I seriously still use it ALL. THE. TIME. Soccer games, parades, picnics at the park, days at the beach, it’s great to use almost ANYWHERE!
You could certainly throw any old blanket you have in the car, but I love that mine is water-resistant, dries quickly, zips into a handy tote bag-sized pack with a shoulder strap, and even has a pocket you can use for sunscreen, keys, or a good book.
Here is the current version of the blanket I own.
Here’s a similar one that also gets really good reviews.
And one more, just because I like it.
Sunscreen is one of those things that I often forget about until we’re driving down the road to our destination, so I’ve learned to keep it in the car at all times. That way my busy brain has one less thing to worry about, but we all stay protected from the sun.
Costco often has good deals on sunscreen during the summer months, or if you’re looking for a mineral based sunscreen, try this one.
5. First aid kit (with lots of Band-aids)
Hiking and exploring with little kids results in lots of bumps and scrapes, so I keep this travel first-aid kit in my car. It’s amazing to me how quickly a band-aid can “heal” an owie. Whether or not they really need it, if they ask for a band-aid, I hand one out. The placebo effect is well worth the small cost.
6. Ball or Frisbee
Certainly not a necessity for survival, but it’s nice to have something in the car we can pull out and play with if we stop at a park unexpectedly. We have this playground ball and love it (well, actually it’s in our neighbor’s window well right now…but that’s another story).
7. Extra clothes / diapers
I have lost count of the number of times one of my kids has had a potty accident, gotten wet unexpectedly. Sometimes, they ride home in the car without pants on…or with nothing but a diaper, but now I like to keep an extra set of clothes in the car–just in case.
You know that shirt your child loves, but you would really love to throw away? Compromise, and put in the car emergency kit. Win-win. 🙂
Right on top of the clothes, I put a stack of hats. My boys prefer baseball caps (to be like Daddy), but we also have some cute bucket hats.
9. Plastic bags
I’ll spare you the anecdotes about how I learned that keeping plastic bags in the car at all times is a good idea. Suffice it to say…my oldest son used to get car-sick…often. Lesson: plastic, zip-top bags make a great barf-bag. Zip it up, and throw it away.
They also come in handy for containing wet or dirty clothes.
10. Baby wipes
If you have little ones in diapers, packing wipes is a no-brainer. But even if your kids are potty-trained, baby wipes come in super handy. You can use them to wipe dirty hands before eating, to clean cuts/scrapes before applying band-aids, to wipe muddy footprints off your car, and so much more!
What do you keep in YOUR car in summer? Share in the comments below.