Everyone loves a game of tetris, but not when it’s 8am on the first morning of your road trip and the kids are running around, eager to arrive at your weekend destination. Oh, and those aren’t tiny tetris blocks that you’re sloting neatly into place, they’re huge heavy bags that you’re trying to jam into the back of your car.
Instead of throwing everything in the boot, back seats and glove compartment, inevitably leaving things behind, slow down and pack smart with our weekend car packing tips.
Evaluate your packing list
One benefit of travelling in your own car is that you’re not restricted by airline luggage allowances - but don’t get carried away. Before loading the car, lay everything out and if it looks too much, start cutting down. It’s much easier to remove things you don’t need before you’re half way through packing the car and realise everything needs to be pulled out, just to leave behind the hiking boots that you’re obviously not going to wear on your beach getaway.
Split your packing into categories so that when you need to grab the BBQ gear, it’s all in one box. Depending on what you’re taking, you could split things into clothes, food, cooking items, medicine and toiletries and recreational items like sports gear or books. It’s also a good idea for each person to have one daily bag, with everyday items such as a toothbrush, pyjamas and a spare set of clothes that they can easily pull out when they need to.
Select your storage wisely
Don’t throw everything into plastic bags that will inevitably split, instead invest in a few transparent boxes to pack items into. These will be easier to stack and you can quickly see what’s inside each one. Use smaller, durable bags to pack things around the boxes and fill the gaps. To keep food and drinks fresh, take a cool bag, and for large bulky items like pillows, consider packing them into vacuum storage bags to reduce their volume.
Start by packing the heaviest and biggest items first, distributing the weight evenly through the car, with heavier items toward the front of the luggage compartment . Not only will they be harder to squeeze in later and risk crushing things beneath, but if the weight of your luggage is unevenly distributed, it may topple over when turning corners.
It should go without saying, but when your car is fully loaded, you’ll need to take more care when driving. The extra weight will increase braking distance and affect the manoeuvrability of the vehicle. If you have an open boot that allows you to pile things high, make sure you still have enough visibility at the back and tie items down to avoid them flying into front passengers if you need to brake suddenly. If you’re carrying bags on spare seats, it’s worth securing them with a seat belt.
If space is limited, load up the roof
Roof racks or cargo pods are useful for carrying things you don’t want inside the car, such as gas, firewood, camp rubbish and spare fuel. If you do decide to expand your capacity with rooftop loading, be sure to safely secure it and check that you’re not exceeding the load rating of your vehicle.
Be aware that anything on the roof increases the height of your car, something to consider if you drive through tunnels or into car parks with height restrictions. Roof racks can also cause destabilisation in high winds, create wind drag and will reduce fuel economy.
Don’t forget the essentials
Finally, make sure that all of your important items are easily accessible - you don’t want to be rummaging around for tissues when nature calls, so keep these things handy at the front of the boot. Likewise, have snacks and water readily available to keep everyone in good spirits. Side pockets are a great spot to pack kids toys so that they’re entertained on long drives too. Lastly, don’t forget to include a plug in 12V charger incase your phone runs out of juice when you’re lost in the middle of nowhere.
After a fun filled weekend away with your pride and joy (we’re talking about your car of course, but family and friends are a bonus), you’ll undoubtedly find that even the neatest of packing has left bits all over the boot and interiors. Refresh your ride with an inside and out wash at your local Magic and have your car back to its usual glowing self.
In need of getaway inspiration? Take a look at our favourite road trips out of Perth.