Summer Car Kit: Essentials for Summer in AZ

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Summer in the East Valley starts in May and seems to last well into the fall. For us that means our days are full of splash pads, city pools, picnics in the shade, BBQs and pretty much bouncing around town all day to try to avoid feeing cooped up in the house.

Inevitably, I end up out of the house wishing I had this or that with me, so I have started to keep a few things in my car for those occasions. It’s perfect for those afternoons when you decide to make an impromptu stop at the splash pad so the kids can get out a little energy before dinner.

I like to call it my Summer Car Kit. I’ll share below my must have basics for our kit, but it can be tweaked to fit your needs. I have toddlers, so mine if full of things like snacks and diapers, but feel free to swap out or add things that you think you’ll need.

First things first, you will need a container to hold all your stuff. I picked up a clear plastic tote bin from Walmart for a couple bucks. Next is the fun part -filling it!

I’ll be sure to caution that anything you keep in there needs to be able to withstand excessive heat. Keep that in mind when packing it up and be sure to check on things every so often to make sure all the items in there are surviving the summer.

  1. Change of clothes. This one is pretty obvious, kids get dirty/muddy (or you know, poop happens). I also keep a spare pair of socks in there, too. 
  2. Swim suits. I got back up suits just for this car kit. My little guy practically lives in swimwear in the summer, but it doesn’t hurt to have one for on the go! I also keep an extra for me just in case I want to jump in, too
  3. Hats. I’ve got a cute little bucket hat and a baseball cap for each of my kids and myself. These have come in handy more than I expected.
  4. Shoes. I like to have a pair of sandal style shoes for those last minute splash pad trips. I have some cheap, Old Navy $1 flip flops for all of us in there.
  5. Sunglasses. It’s Arizona – we live in these, right? I don’t think it hurts to have them stashed everywhere, especially for the kids who seem to lose them.
  6. Beach Towels. I like to have a small lighter weight one so it doesn’t take up much room. It can also double as a blanket for the grass. I keep one for each of us!
  7. Sunscreen – This is a MUST! I use a baby one for my little guy and a spray sunscreen for myself. Watch out for stick sunscreen because they tend to melt in the heat. I would make sure these are stored in a Ziplock and under the towels to protect from the heat as much as possible.
  8. Suds2Go – This portable hand washing system was created by a local mom and it’s super convenient for hand washing on the go. Sometimes hand sanitizer and wipes just don’t get the job done and hauling kids to a public restroom can be a nightmare. This is easy to use and super handy to keep in the car!
  9. Toys. I have a small little set of sand/water toys from the Dollar Spot at Target. Cars, cups, bubbles are also fun little things that are good for impromptu park or splash pad visits. Goggles and floaties are also good if you end up at a pool.
  10. Baby Wipes. As we phase out of diapers in my house, I can’t imagine life without wipes. Baby wipes and sanitizing wipes are both good to keep in the car.
  11. First Aid Kit. Kids are clumsy! Plenty of bandaids, some gauze and a few lollipops are good to have on hand.
  12. Snacks. I love having packets of freeze dried fruit on hand for snacking or raisins. A bar or two for me is helpful, too! Basically anything that won’t melt or spoil is good.
  13. Reusable Tote Bag. Or a couple grocery bags work too. Great for trash, stinky diapers, wet clothes…you name it!
  14. Diapers. I have both swim diapers and regular diapers on hand.
  15. Stuff for Mom. Hair ties, bobby pins, a hairbrush(for the kids, too) period essentials, Kleenex, snacks and a change of clothes for me, too.

Summer Car Kit - How to put together a summer car kit

I also like to keep a fold up picnic blanket and a light weight stroller or foldable wagon in the car, too!

So there you have it! My Summer Car Kit all ready for summer adventures around the valley! Here is a fun Summer Car Kit Checklist for you to make sure you have everything you need!

25 COMMENTS

    • That was my thought as well as the snacks. My car gets super hot in the summer. Would it be better in the trunk?

      • Hey Lynze! I like to keep snacks in there that can withstand the heat. Our favorite is freeze dried fruit!. I have an SUV so my trunk isn’t exactly separate, but if i had a car I would totally keep this kit in my trunk

    • Hi Kristian! I haven’t had any problems with it leaking (yet) but we haven’t hit our crazy summer temps yet. I will probably toss mine into a ziplock bag just in case it leaks!

    • I thought that it was bad to have sunscreen at such high temperatures too? I could be getting this confused with bottled water haha!

  1. And baby powder!! It’s perfect for removing sand of your feet or hands. Shake a generous amout on the area and the sand will just shake off!! The baby powder removes the moister from your skin allowing the sand to easliy come off. If you prefer something more natural, you can try cornstarch!!

    • LOVE that idea Lulu! I definitely use that trick when we are at the beach. Now you have me wishing Arizona was closer to the beach…*sigh*

  2. Sunscreen shouldn’t be left in the car – it looses effectiveness of it gets too hot. Even on the beach we store it in the cooler. Everything else sounds useful!

  3. I keep some bubbles and a ball as well for unplanned trips to the park. I also keep instant ice packs for bumps and falls.

    • Erin! You’re a genius! I love the bubbles and ball idea! Totally adding these to ours since my toddler loves both 🙂

  4. I would add a gallon of water. Even though it’d be like drinking hot tea when out in the sun it’s always nice to have available just in case. And maybe one of those fans that connects to a spray bottle for me!

  5. You say baby wipes or Clorox wipes? Clorox wipes would be very dangerous to use on kiddos. We also keep honest bug spray and a thin linnen picnic/beach blanket in our bin – if you roll it vs folding it – it takes very little space!

  6. You should add a travel size baby powder. It helps get the sand off. And little boys get sand everywhere. Pain free removal.

  7. A good bug spray and sunscreen that’s safe for 6months and up, DEET/free is Bug guard. I use it on my whole family and keeps me from carrying so many different bottles. I use the Blue sun lotion on my little guy because he doesn’t like when I spray him lol.

  8. We do this too! We live in Florida so we keep all our beach gear in the car. Saves on having to repack it all each time! We have floats, boogie boards, sunscreen & bug spray, towels (after they’ve been washed and dried again) hat, snorkel gear, 2 beach blankets and even beach chairs for the adults!

  9. When the beach time approaches, every individual gets pumped-up to hit the highway. I think it is a great idea to give the vehicle a complete once over before hitting the long stretch of unfenced thoroughfare. The once over process consists of different errands including- tire inspection, brake inspection, battery inspection, engine tune-up, oil change etc. Besides doing these errands, an operative should keep a survival kit in his vehicle’s trunk. Because a survival kit is the only thing that he can use to overcome the extremity in the mid of nowhere.

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