Car Hacks and Essential Things to Keep in Your Car

Today I'm sharing with you my best car hacks, tips, tricks, gadgets, and life-saving tips that have saved my bacon more than once on the road. Hope you enjoy!

Essential Things to Keep in Your Car from Fun Cheap or Free

As a mom of 6 active kiddos, I basically LIVE out of my car. Over the years I have learned simple ways to make my car a mobile “office” of sorts, and have turned it into a place where I can actually get quite a bit done! It might sound crazy, but with a few car essentials, you can transform the way you run errands.

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ESSENTIAL THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR

We all have those things that we keep in our car that we just can’t live without, am I right? Here are my car essentials that I must have in my car at all times, along with a few car hacks that will change your life!

CAR VACUUM

This car vacuum is one of my must-have, non-negotiable items that I have in my van. It is such a lifesaver when it comes to keeping the car clean! It’s small, so you can hide it under one of the seats when you’re not using it. It plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter and it can reach ALL the way to the back of my van. Have you seen the Silver Bullet? She’s a beast!

Car hacks and essential things to keep in your car like this vacuum. From Fun Cheap or Free.

I love this vacuum because it keeps the bottom of my van from looking like the bottom of a cereal box. So gross! While I’m waiting in a fast-food line, in the school pickup line, or at a bank window, I’ll plug the vacuum in, hand it back to the kids and let them go to town with it! It’s definitely an essential for my car!

HANGING GARBAGE CAN

These little garbage cans are life savers! I have one on the back of every single headrest in my car so that any time one of my kids has some trash, they can easily throw it away in the garbage can rather than throwing it on the floor. These are great because they’re waterproof on the inside and hold their shape.

SILICONE CUPCAKE LINERS

Do your cup holders ever just get disgusting thanks to some nasty, mysterious gunk, or is that just mine? These cupcake liners are probably one of my favorite car hacks! I have one in every cup holder in my car. They’re easily cleaned – you just dump them out and stick them in the dishwasher! Easy peasy, that’s my kind of cleaning. These are one of my favorite car hacks!

TV HACKS FOR THE CAR

I don’t know about you, but it never fails that our car’s DVD player breaks right before we’re planning to go on a long road trip. Or each kid wants to bring 5 different movies with them and then we lose them or break them – so frustrating! Well, Freebs, I’ve got a car hack for you! Plug this nifty HDMI cable into your car’s HDMI. Then plug it into the HDMI input that plugs into your phone or iPad and voila!

Now whatever is playing on your phone is playing on the TV for everybody to see. This is a great way to let everybody watch a movie, look at pictures that are on your phone, or even see a map of the terrain where you’re driving.

AIR FRESHENER

We all love a good air freshener at the front of the car, but have you ever thought of putting one (or ten!) at the BACK of your car? Hide one in the back where the little people, and the source of the stink, are. You and your guests at the front of the car will be none-the-wiser!

MAGNETIC MOUNT FOR YOUR DASH

It’s important to be safe in the car with your phone, right? But let’s get real, sometimes you NEED to use your phone, especially if you need it for the GPS. One of my biggest car essentials is one of these magnetic mounts.

Car Hacks Phone Mount from Fun Cheap or Free

You basically stick a magnet to the back of your phone (it can even go under the cover) and then your phone sticks right to your dash on the mount. BOOM! All of your phone problems are solved and you’re driving hands-free!

MICROFIBER DISINFECTANT CLOTH

Let’s get real here – if your car is anything like mine, it is disgusting like 99.9% of the time no matter what you do! To combat this, I keep a microfiber cloth in my console. (Use the code FREEBS for 10% off of THIS one, or get them from Amazon HERE).

These bad boys disinfect naturally, so all that I do is take a small amount of water from one of many water bottles that I always keep laying around (Is that just me or do you ALWAYS have like 3 half-empty bottles in your car?!) and put it on the cloth. I’ll do a quick once-over while I’m waiting in line or sitting in a parking lot. All of the nastiness is picked up by the cloth and stays out of your drinks!

BOTTLE TETHER

Does your cute little baby have a bottle, binky, special toy or a drink that they always like to have with them in their carseat? If they’re anything like mine, then you’ll be driving and then uh oh! Cute little baby drops it in the floor and starts going crazy. My solution – a bottle tether! There is no way that cute little baby is going to drop that special something on the floor when it’s attached to a tether, and it keeps you from wrecking while trying to grab it. Trust me on this one, it’s a must have!

WATERPROOF SEAT COVERS

These seat covers have become an essential in all of our cars! They’re great for dogs, kids and humans in general. They catch all of the crumbs, dog hair, water spills and whatever other nasty things that we can manage to get in the seat. I’m not going to lie, I’m a pretty messy eater when I snack in the car, so these save my seat just as much as my kids’!

I love them because you can just take them off of the seat and shake them off, throw them in the washing machine if they’re really gross, and then put them back in the car to keep your seats nice and clean. They’re so worth it to keep your seats from getting those lovely stains that happen with normal wear and tear. They make the covers for single seats and bench seats.

THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR TRUNK

The back of the car is where you store a lot of necessities. It’s also where a lot of junk accumulates. So here are some car hacks for organizing all the things in your car trunk.

CAR ESSENTIALS FOR EMERGENCIES

You never know when an emergency is going to hit when it comes to your car. Maybe you get a flat tire while driving and you have to pull over on the side of the road. Or you go to get in your car after loading all of the kids and ALL.OF.THE.THINGS. from Costco and your car won’t start. That’s when having an emergency car kit comes in handy.

It has the bright triangles to put out around your car if you have to stop on the side of the road. It also has jumper cables, among other essential things for your car. You may never have a need for it, but it’s just not worth the risk to not have it in your car trunk!

COLLAPSIBLE CRATE

This crate comes in super handy when it comes to gathering all of the things in your car trunk! It folds flat when you’re not using it and can be tucked under a seat. I use it to store all of the random junk that accumulates at the back of my car. I’m talking hats, random shoes, and the returns that need to go back to the store. I also keep a plethora of water bottles in it because you just never know when your child is going to be DYING of thirst and they forgot to bring their water bottle with them!

HAIR BAG

If you’re like me, then you’re almost always on the verge of running late. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to fix everybody’s hair before we need to get in the car and go, so I’ll just figure it out once we get to wherever we’re going. That’s when my handy hair bag comes in for the win! It’s just a small pouch that has everything that I need to do both my girls’ and boys’ hair. I’m talking hair brush, gel, and hair things. This has become a life saver for when we need to rush out of the house and I don’t need my kids looking like a hot mess all day long!

FIRST AID KIT

Kids are so prone to falling and scraping a hand or a knee, that’s why I make sure that I always have a first aid kit in my car trunk.

Car Essentials First Aid Kit from Fun Cheap or Free

It may be the world’s tiniest scrape, but it’s a HUGE deal to them so I always want to be prepared with a cute princess or superhero bandaid to help make them feel better!

FRUGAL LIVING CAR HACKS

SMALL ZIPPER BAGS

I don’t know about you, but there’s a good chance that you often need to return something to the store. I keep my receipts in one of two places, either in my budget envelope (read about that HERE if you haven’t heard about it before, it’s seriously life changing!) or in a little zipper bag in my console. This makes it easy to keep up with all of my receipts for when I need to return something, while keeping them from bulking up my purse. That thing is big enough as it is, it doesn’t need any help!

I also keep another zipper bag in my console with all of those important, but annoying, membership or rewards cards, punch cards, and frequent shopper cards. It’s frustrating to have so many of them, but they’re totally worth holding on to. I’ve found that if you keep a single hole punch in your bag, then you can punch a hole and put your cards on a binder ring to keep them organized that way!

ACCORDION FILE FOLDER

Do you ever look through your piles of junk mail and weekly shoppers and realize that they have some pretty legit restaurant deals or grocery coupons in them? I don’t always have the time to sort through them when I check my mail, I mean, who does?! So I’ll put them in an accordion file folder that I keep in my console and then when I’m waiting in line for something or killing time in my car in a parking lot (can you tell that I spend a lot of time in my car?!), I’ll go through and organize them!

My folder has tabs for restaurants, services, places and whatever else I happen to get useful ads for. This makes it super handy when you’re in your car and want to go grab food or run an errand. You don’t have to worry about if you remembered to grab the coupons before you left the house, everything is already organized in the file folder so nice, neat and tidy.

BATHROOM CAR HACKS

Alright, I’m talking about the Big Kahuna, the Big Whammy of all Whammies! Here are two things that you should NEVER leave home without – a size 5 diaper and a Go Girl. The diaper is great for when you or a kid are out and about and you’re not able to stop the car to go to the bathroom. You just put a diaper in your kid’s underwear, let her rip, then you just roll it up and throw it away. I know, it sounds CRAZY, but I’ve done this and it works!

The Go Girl is a silicone pee device that allows girls to pee standing up. This has come in super handy for both me and my girls when we’ve been on a road trip with no bathrooms in sight. We’ve just pulled over, used a bush with this lovely device and it kept us from wetting ourselves or having to squat, because EWW. It’s also germ resistant and dishwasher safe, so it cleans up easily and nicely!

Whew, there ya go! Those are all my car hacks and essential things to keep in your car that I’ve got for you today! What are YOUR car essentials?? Please share them with me! We always need new ideas, right?

Car hacks that actually work from Fun Cheap or Free

With 6 kids, traveling can be CHALLENGING. We love to travel as a family, though, so I've got LOADS of tricks up my sleeves! I've shared all my best tips, tricks, and hacks in various travel posts.

And for those who don't know much about me, I'm a frugal living and lifestyle blogger that got out of serious debt by pinching pennies, and now continue to pinch pennies as we live the life of our dreams! I've put my best methods in an online, easy to use, FUN budgeting program called Budget Boot Camp. Use the code FCFBLOG to get 10% off. If you don't save at least what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime… So try it, you've got nothing to lose!

Check out all my best FREE budgeting tips here on the blog in the meantime, of course.

Hope you enjoyed all those tips.  Now, go out and have some fun this summer!!

Comments

  1. AvatarShauna says

    Ok so I splurged and bought a new vehicle and since we moms do live in our cars I am determined to keep It clean and organized! These tips are genius! Love the idea of a car vacuum! That drop stop will be so nice! EVERYTHING falls in between right there. I always leave my coupons at home when I could use them so now I jane a file folder on my list! Oh man my daughter and I HATE having to pee outside but sometimes It happens. Now I need To buy a few of those go girl! I have never seen them! Thank you so much for th earn tips. My life is going to be so much more easier!

  2. AvatarJocelyn Delgado says

    IVe almost bought go girl a couple of times but resisted. I’m gonna revisit! LOVE travel tips. I’ve got 6 kids and we love to road trip!

  3. AvatarMalinda says

    Oh man I never thought about the diaper hack!!! That’s amazing.

    And those things looked like fruit leathers ??

  4. AvatarMolly Campbell says

    Great tips! I just learned a new one today. Apparently there are portable hard drives that emit their own wifi signal. So instead of storing movies or games on your phone or tablet, you can store it on the hard drive, and all your devices can connect to it to watch movies. I thought it was an awesome tip for road trips since the cheap tablets we bought for road trips don’t have much internal storage, and I’ve had a problem with the add on memory cards breaking.

  5. AvatarLauren says

    I love all these ideas! I keep a hot/cold insulated bag for groceries, just in case. I also always keep a roll of TP because…life!

  6. AvatarKathryn says

    These are some awesome tips. You are missing one though. I keep a small makeup bag full of on the road medical supplies. IE: bandaids, neosporin, benadryl tabs and cream, kids dramamine, claritin, kids pain relievers, adult pain relievers – esp Excedrin. I purchased all of these at the dollar general store on the cheap. I did not even buy brand name stuff. I took most of it all out of the boxes and put them into labled snack bags. I tried to purchase pills in travel size bottles or blister packs. I’ve taken many road trips with my boys and this has always been a life saver.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      That is SUCH a good idea! Thank you for sharing, I’ll have to start doing that. I usually keep some in my purse/diaper bag, but not to this extent!

  7. AvatarSarah says

    My favorite hacks: a box of Kleenex and a box of wipes kept handy in my center console of my truck. Luckily, I only have 1 kid….and a dog….and 3 cats ? I will never travel without baby wipes again! Huggies *used to* make a smaller travel size plastic box (it held around 40 wipes), but they’re increasingly hard to find (check CVS though, I still occasionally have luck and I think I’ve got about 8 of those boxes!). The dog takes care of 90% of those “gross” crumbs and unknown food items.

    I also keep a pack of children’s Dramamine handy in both vehicles in case I forget to pack one in my bathroom bag, or for the mid-point double dose. Another car sick hack? Use a blanket in the window. Blocking the peripheral vision helps TREMENDOUSLY. (I’ll probably also start keeping a roll of paper towels in my truck for the vomit clean up….our last trip I ran out of wipes and let me just say paper napkins from all those drive-thru stops are next to USELESS. The disintegrate upon contact with anything…..wet)

    The head rest seat hooks are also a life saver! My truck seats are too wide to hang over the back of the seat, so I put on on the back seat, another faces forward on my passenger seat (so my purse doesn’t go flying every time the deer attempt suicide), and I even hung one from that little coat hook above the back seat, which my son hangs his headphones on for stops (so they don’t get stepped on).

  8. AvatarKelly M says

    Great tips! I will be getting silicone cupcake molds for all my cup holders!! Even mine! The grossness that gets inside those cup holders is an amazing feat in itself and so hard to clean! I only have two kids but we travel far every day to my office and daycare. They are 2 and 4. I currently drive a Nissan Sentra so needless to say it is TIGHT on space! Two car seats take up most of the backseat, but I found a basket that wedges just perfectly between them and I fill it with toys and things they like… paper for drawing, books, baby doll accessories, etc. it has helped a ton! I change the stuff out periodically so that it doesn’t become the boring lost basket of ish! Plus it has be cleaned out often because they like to throw their snacks in it too when they are done… will be investing in the garbage can idea for the car as well, thanks for the tip!! I also keep a roll of toilet paper AND a package of baby wipes next to me… someone is always asking me for a wipe to clean their hands from a snack or sneezing with snot running down their face! This has saved me so many times!

    Thanks for the tips! Will be trying many new things for our travels!

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