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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): What Do You Keep in Your Car?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What Do You Keep in Your Car?

It was a bit chilly this morning...enough to freeze my windshield in Central Florida. I came across a stranded motorist this morning, a young lady with a little toddler in the car. It wasn't a flat tire or something obvious, but she had called her husband to come get her. Here she was in her pajamas and a toddler in the car with no socks and nothing warm to wear for either of them. I immediately grabbed my wool blanket from the car. You see, many years ago actually, I was stranded on the road...and I never forgot it either. Before you happily get in your car tomorrow morning, keep these things in mind.

  • Wear clean underwear. You know what I mean. You never know what can happen, so if you don't mind trudging down the road in your bathrobe and slippers, then by all means, wear what you want. But I at least try to look human and somewhat presentable when I go out...even if it is just up to the school, less than a mile away.
  • Always take your cell phone. That way you can immediately call your husband or friend for help if you run into any kind of situation. I also have our non-emergency sheriff's number on speed dial. Sometimes you may see something and want to alert the sheriff but it may not be an emergency...yet. I don't want to clog up the 911 lines.
  • Proof of insurance. Have it even if your state doesn't require it. You want to be able to trade this stuff should you get into a fender bender, and I know most police people will ask for it along with your car registration papers.
  • An accident report form. USAA and AAA send these out to their drivers. Or use this one. I keep one in the glovebox. You can sometimes get disoriented or just flustered after even the most minor accident. This form will help you get the info you need from the other driver and tells you what else you should be doing at the scene. I used to carry a disposable camera. Now I use my camera phone instead.
  • Warning devices and kit. I think they do sell these these in the States. I know in Germany, it is mandatory to have a warning triangle, flares, basic first aid kit and that kind of thing. You never know when you may need this stuff. It may keep you from getting rear ended too.
  • Jumper cables. I have actually used these more helping other people than helping myself, but you just never know. Make sure you do know how to use them. I've even seen some you can plug into your cigarette lighter. I'm not sure how effective those are though.
  • First aid kit. Along with the normal stuff that goes in there, I like to add motion sickness tablets, extra band-aids and kids' pain reliever. Also have something for sore tummies and throats...even a thermometer would be good to have.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries. Even a little device can cast a big enough light to get whatever job done...should you need it.
  • Water. I like to keep a bottle per person in the car. Have you heard of those motorists getting stranded? I've even been stuck in a traffic jam, where I longed for any kind of water...even if it was hot, and been able to crawl into the back seat to get some refreshments. Also have some energy or power bars. These things last for decades! I sometimes get hungry just running errands and these things do the trick to tide you over. I actually carry a few in my purse instead of my car.
  • A roll of papertowels and a small bottle of window cleaning fluid. I can't tell you the number of times I've driven at night and realized then and only then, hey, the inside of my windows are so dirty...I can't see! By the time you get home and into the next day, you've already forgotten. If you have this stuff with you, you can get it done right there.
  • Inflated spare tire. When was the last time you looked at the thing? Just check it out every few months...make sure it is still there and in working order. Also have a tire gauge and that Fix-a-Flat stuff you can inflate a tire with.
  • Empty gas can. Just a little one...just in case. Never run into this problem by keeping your gas tank always half full.
  • Small toolkit with screwdrivers, wrench, small hammer and pliers. I've used mine for more reasons than I count...it's that useful.
  • A blanket. I have a thick wool blanket. I just don't use it for people, I cover my frozen groceries with it too.
  • Container of wetwipes. Not only are these great for sticky fingers and the like, I use mine for cleaning the dashboard at a long stoplight or traffic jam. They also work great on stains and spills on your carpeting.
  • Kleenex box. Someone always seems to want to blow their nose in the car. I've also used them as ersatz napkins and to wipe up spills.
  • Pens and pencils and a notepad. You can never have enough things to write with. You also get some great ideas while driving or maybe something you need to get done. If there's a paperpad there, you don't have to hunt for paper.
  • A stash of plastic grocery bags. I use these for trash bags, doggy doo bags, kid puke bags...you name it...you can always find a use for one of these!
  • Basic map of the area. What if your NAV system goes down? What if you do get lost and you didn't have a NAV system to begin with?
  • A small Yellow Pages. Our local phone company sends out this cute little book. It fits under the seat out of sight. It's great to be able to look things up while you are out and about.
  • List of cards in your wallet. I keep a little card in my glovebox with a list of my credit cards and other things in my wallet. I don't list the account numbers, just the phone numbers I can contact should my wallet get lost. There are other ways for the credit card companies and banks to be able to identify you should you need to talk to them.
  • Cell phone charger. Peace of mind in case you run out of juice.
  • Compact umbrella. I put it in a compartment or under one of the seats. If you prepare for rain, it usually won't happen I've noticed.
  • A list of emergency numbers to call. Have this in your glovebox in case you leave without your purse or even cell phone.
  • Spare change, especially if you live in an area with tolls.
  • Coupons. I keep my coupon organizer in my car and just take out what I need when I go in the store. I also keep my 10 and 20% off store coupons in there...you know, the ones you get for Bed, Bath & Beyond and stores like that.
  • A small roll of duct tape. If something wants to fall off your car, duct tape it back on. That is just one of the many uses. The last time we camped, I think we used almost half a roll for one thing or another.
Since I'm down in Florida, I don't really think about all that cold weather stuff. Here are some things you should think about having in your vehicle if you tend to get less than perfect weather.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

that's a LOT of stuff, lol! I know that many folks will say, if I put all that in my car, I won't be able to fit my kids in! And you know what? That German first aid kit and warning triangle are always sliding around the back of my van! But seriously...here are a few hints I'll throw in to add to yours:

*Don't think you have room for a blanket? Spread it out on the seat. Yeah, you might have to shake off a few crumbs and what not, and it might need washed more often, but a) you'll protect your seats, and b) you will ALWAYS have a blanket for emergencies! We have two "mexican" blankets, one under each car seat. The one under my daughter's booster is immediately accessible...my son's would require removing his car seat, but that's little inconvenience in order to keep warm.

*Worried about always having to put fresh batteries in a flashlight that won't get much use? Pick up a hand crank one. These use LED lights and don't ever run out of power. Good to have in the car, AND at home.

*If you DO use fix-a-flat, be sure you remember which tire it was used on AND let the garage know when you are getting the tire repaired (because fix-a-flat will only last for so long, you DO have to get the tire fixed). There are chemicals in there that can cause serious damage to the guys who are removing the tire if they don't know you've used it.


You've given some great tips here! And believe me, I think I've got about 2/3rds of that in my car already.

We have a backpack (it's really a diaperbag) and we keep a lot of the "little stuff" in there...along with crayons, coloring books, and little snacks...you never know when a traffic jam will occur, and that stuff is a godsend when they start whining!

February 6, 2008 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger tootie said...

Good tips! I always keep some sort of food handy, usually granola bars. (Maybe I just have a phobia of starving when I'm on a road trip.) And, I always keep a small notepad and pen - that comes in handy, too.

February 7, 2008 at 2:37 AM  
Blogger Maggii said...

I'm one of those that just can't leave my house in Pajamas...sometimes I wish I was one that could ..but I just can't do it..LOL..

I keep most of these things in my car...but there were a few I hadn't thought of..when I was a kid we lived up North and my mom always made us keep blankets in the car( just in case) ...now i live in a relatively warn climate so I don't usually have one in my car anymore...although during Softball season I keep one to take along and put on the bleachers..

Want to let you know I've tagged you with a meme...I found your site recently and as a fellow Military Wife I enjoy it.See my blog for the meme details.

February 7, 2008 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Thanks for the additions! I guess when you have a minivan with dozens of compartments...you tend to stuff them with stuff! But really, I've used everything I've listed..except for the accident forms...hope I never need those.

One other thing to add on big trips...like when we go the amusement park...everyone gets an extra change of clothes and we also bring a towel. This was especially true with really little ones with all the "accidents" and such that can happen. My neighbor's baby had an diaper blowout all over my neighbor's pants when we were all out together on a trip...it was a good thing we wore the same size pants!

February 7, 2008 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

Maggii...I went to your site..nice writes...not sure what a meme is but I'm thinking it's something nice? Thanks for the tag!

February 7, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Don't forget chargers for all your electronic stuff. I have extra ones in my car for my phone, camera and mp3 player.

February 13, 2008 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Hey,

As many people who store their photo's online, I don't mind you using my photo on your blog, but a little note under the photo on flickr, a quick email saying you have used it or a link back to my blog or flickr page would be great.

I would extend the same courtesy to you if I were to use one of your photos.

Thanks Amber

(the photo in this post is of my son.)

October 17, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Amber,
beautiful photo! I believe I am following Flickr's terms of service by providing a link back to your Flickr page. How else would you have known your photo was here? In fact, I have had quite a few thank you's from people at Flickr, whose photos I have been using. In the 300+ posts, you are the first one who did not agree. If you request it, I can go ahead and take your photo out of the article and substitute another one. Just let me know.

On the other side, if Blogger would write it into their html to have a little text link back item, under the photo, I would consider using that as well. I've tried to do it myself, but it does not turn out correctly.

October 18, 2008 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

ie, if you click on any of the photos on this website that I got from an outside source, it takes you back to that person's Flickr page. If I use a photo outside of Flickr, I DO ask for permission:-))

October 18, 2008 at 1:39 PM  

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