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How to Pack Your Car for the Holiday Road Trip

The holidays are nearly here! That means some things: Cold weather, inescapable holiday music, trying to find the perfect present for even the pickiest of recipients, and oh yeah, that drive to the large family gathering.

When the day arrives to head out with the extended family, all the presents, and the luggage for even a short stay, it’s important to be prepared and pack the car properly while maintaining visibility. Here are some pointers to make it a smooth(ish) process.

Size Matters

The day before your big trip is the time for some hard math – how many people are you taking with you? Will anyone need more than one bag to take with them? Once you’ve got all the calculations completed, apply them to the size of your car and assess a packing strategy. That Prius may be excellent for gas mileage, but can it hold all 12 pairs of your daughter’s shoes? Prioritize the “essentials” based on what your car can hold.

Place Heavier Items on the Bottom

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But what if you get everything stacked in, and realize someone was running late with their packing and their bag is bigger than everyone else’s? Now presents are getting smashed, precious space is being wasted, and your line of sight through the back of the car is compromised. Those with bigger bags should be in charge of filling their bags first. A packing schedule seems a little over the top, until you’re on top of the pile in your car, trying to make it all work.

Use Vacuum Bags to Condense and Compress

Travel containers have come a long way in recent decades. If you haven’t seen these you should check them out, they will save you some serious time and frustration. Miscellaneous items that tend to clutter up the car can be compressed into vacuum-sealed bags, with the air let out to save space while keeping precious items secure. The vacuum bags will also help you keep valuable items out of sight and away from potential theft. The bags fit into small spaces and can easily be concealed near the bottom of your trunk.

Consider a Storage Unit for the Top of Your Car

This one will require some prep before the stacking begins. Car top storage units are very effective, but they require installment of base bars and screws before the actual unit can be installed. However, when you start running out of available space inside the car, you will start looking at the bare top of your car with longing, wishing you had thought to get that extra storage container. Don’t wait until it’s too late! There are many options for just about every car.

Keep Your Line of Sight Clear

Above all, safety should always be the top priority (you’ve heard it before but it bears repeating.) Find a volunteer to sit in the front seat and look toward the back if you have to, but bulky luggage tends to create large blind spots, or complicate existing blind spots that you may have become accustomed to taking for granted.

Luggage shouldn’t be stacked higher than the headrests of the back seats. If you run out of space at that point, you must resist the urge to block the driver’s view of surroundings. Have a safe and happy holiday season!