How much time do you spend in the car?

If you’re anything like the average American, you’re posted in the driver’s seat for more than 100 hours a year for your commute alone.  And if you’re hitting the road for one more summer weekend getaway in a few days, you can expect to spend a good chunk of time behind the wheel.

Fast, Free Auto Insurance Quotes

Considering the amount of time you spend inside your vehicle, it’s worth decking it out with all the essentials for comfort, cleanliness, and entertainment. Materials goods don’t make you happy, but these hacks, gadgets, and organizers will certainly make your automobile journeys—be they 30 minutes or 300 miles—much more enjoyable.

Makeshift Trash Can

cereal container trash can in car
Photo by Better Homes and Gardens

You’ve probably seen some of these handy homemade trash cans while wandering around the internet. Some clever life hackers discovered that plastic cereal containers stuffed with plastic bags provide the ultimate clean-car solution.

Why a cereal container? The lid can be closed to prevent spills, and the slim shape doesn’t encroach on leg room (we guess?). In any case, this hack probably warrants a trip to the container store.

Backseat Organizer

Whether you’re toting a toddler, exhibiting pack-rat tendencies, or sitting through a long commute, you’ll benefit from a backseat organizer. Keep your stuff corralled without sacrificing any floor space (we’re looking at you, cereal container trash can) and entertain any backseat riders.

There are plenty of inexpensive organizers for sale online, or you can make one yourself.

Shower Caddy

There is life for the shower caddy beyond the community bathrooms in college dorms. They can also serve as an inexpensive car storage solution. Clean up the stuff rolling around in your trunk by stowing it away in one of these highly transportable plastic tubs.

A shower caddy is especially useful for keeping your maintenance fuels stored upright.

Working Sound Setup

Every car trip falls somewhere on the spectrum of music necessity. Short commutes can benefit from a tune here and there; serious road-trippers are forever indebted to the enablers of in-vehicle music.

If you don’t have a built-in audio jack, find an alternative solution that’s compatible with what’s already in your car. Invest in a cassette adapter, a radio converter, old-school CDs—anything to keep you and your passengers pleasantly submerged in song.


There’s a good chance you already needed a smartphone to complete your sound system, but that’s not all you’ll use your cell for. On the road, your phone’s work is never done—there’s always an app for that, whatever “that” may be.

If you’re a commuter, get the Waze app to escape traffic. Road trippers will love the RoadTrippers app that keeps tabs on the best attractions around the world. All drivers can download Gas Buddy to find the lowest fuel prices.

smartphone dock in car
Photo by Kenu

Smartphone Dock

Show your tired phone your gratitude by giving it a stand. More importantly, drive more safely while you use your phone for navigation or music by propping it onto your windshield or dashboard.

Darren Murph of BGR recommends Kenu Airframe, an affordable option that mounts your phone to a vent on the dashboard.

Emergency Kit

Last but not certainly not least, stock your car with a proper emergency kit. These items may not be as exciting as the preceding ones, but you’ll be grateful you have them if (ahem, when) something goes wrong.

Some of the essentials that you might consider including are:

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Pocket knife
  • Ice scraper
  • Umbrella
  • Duct tape
  • A cloth or sign for increased visibility

You can decrease your chances of needing these items by ensuring that your car is properly maintained.

Once you’ve checked all these cleaning and comfort essentials off your list, enjoy your auto oasis—just not enough that you get distracted from the road.