packing road trip

There’s nothing better than hitting the open road with family or friends to explore our beautiful country. But to get the best out of a road trip or holiday, it’s essential to pack smart.


Packing all you need for a festive family holiday into the back of an SUV or sedan is an art form. It takes careful planning and a tried and tested strategy!


Our road trip packing guide is designed to help you maximise your vehicle’s available cargo space. It’s also full of clever packing tips to help simplify the practical side of travelling, so everyone can focus on enjoying the trip.


Clear the car of clutter

Take everything out of your car. Toys, sports gear, shopping bags, books, sun hats and other bits and pieces have a habit of cluttering up family vehicles.


Clear out items you don’t need to take on the road trip, and you may be amazed at how much extra space you have at your disposal.


Spread it all out

Put the items you are taking with you, along with your bags, cooler box, tent, sleeping bags, emergency medical kit, tow rope and consumables next to the car.


Create a mental picture of exactly where you want to pack each item.


This strategy works really well, provided all the items that are going with you are part of the mental master plan.


Create a solid base

Pack the largest and heaviest items first – suitcases, rigid cooler boxes, plastic water dispensers, the tent, and so on. An even distribution of weight enhances vehicle safety, limits wear and tear of the tyres, and cuts down on fuel consumption.


You can then build up from a solid base by packing progressively lighter items on top of each other. Remember to leave sufficient space so that the driver has an unobstructed view of the rear window.


Be cerebral

If you are going on a long road trip, pack the items in the order in which you are going to use them. Overnight bags, the tent, a torch or other lighting, and picnic chairs, for example, should be easily accessible if you’ll be camping.


Arrange all bags and suitcases with their zippers or clasps facing outward, and always keep the snacks, soft drinks and piping hot flask of coffee close at hand.


Go soft

Opt for soft duffle bags, rather than hard rigid suitcases. They are lighter, more flexible and can be manipulated into gaps and spaces.


If your car has an open back, and you are planning to be on the road for any length of time, invest in a light tarpaulin. It’s a great way to conceal the luggage when you leave your car unattended overnight.


Use all available space

Stash toys, books, games and devices into all the available spaces insider the car: the side storage compartments, seat pockets, cubby hole and foot wells. You can whip out whatever you need to keep you and the kids entertained, and the driver refreshed and alert.


Snap the results

Replicating your precision packing technique for the homeward journey is often a lot more difficult than you think. A practical solution is to take a photograph of the fully packed cargo space as a reference.


Store items for the next road trip 

storing xtraspace self storage holiday

When you get home, we recommend you dust off and repack the tent and sleeping bags, wipe down the cool box and camping chairs, and leave the empty bags outside to air.


You can then store all your holiday gear in a clean and accessible space, knowing it’s good to go again next year!


XtraSpace offers clean, secure, affordable self-storage space for your holiday gear at branches in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KZN. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you.

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