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How to pack your car for your next big camping trip

16 August 2016

A family camping trip can be loads of fun but getting all your stuff into the car and ready to go can be stressful. The key to fitting everything you need into your vehicle (and finding it easily when you get to your destination) is to take the time to plan beforehand and pack logically and neatly.

DON’T LOSE YOUR COOL, YOUR MIND, OR YOUR FLASHLIGHT – USE OUR TOP 10 TIPS FOR PACKING YOUR CAR FOR A CAMPING TRIP:

1. PLAN IT OUT

Decide what you are taking with you and bring all the items to one place e.g. the floor of the garage. Lay them all out, making sure they are neatly wrapped or folded, and ready to go. For example, taking board games? Make sure all the pieces are in their box and the box is sealed so it doesn’t spill out, get damaged, or take up unnecessary room.

2. DIVIDE AND CONQUER

Separate your items into different categories and store appropriately. For example, store food in cooler boxes and plastic crates or boxes with strong lockable lids and carry handles. Strong lids are important as this will allow you to place other items on top of the crates without the fear of breaking them. Choose crates that seal well to prevent rain, dust, or insects from getting inside.

3. SIZE MATTERS

When using storage bins or crates, think about their size and capacity. When it comes to packaging and transport, bigger is not necessarily better. Rather have two smaller boxes than one large one – the larger the box, the more difficult it is to fit into the boot of your car (be sure it fits before you buy it!) and carry around.

4. THINK SAFETY FIRST

When you pack your car, evenly distribute the weight of your items and make sure they are securely placed and tied down wherever possible so that they don’t fall onto any passengers if you hit a bump in the road. Loose items can easily turn into dangerous projectiles. Speaking of dangerous items, seasoned campers know that plastic is better and safer than glass when it comes to travelling. Drinking bottles, containers, flasks, glasses… just go plastic and avoid the mess and fuss of broken glass.

5. PUT THE ITEMS YOU NEED LAST IN FIRST

This will allow you to reach what you need first straight away and prevent you having to unpack your entire car only to move all the items around again before being able to store them in their rightful place. Plan to do an ‘unpack’, once. Getting to your campsite at night? Make sure your torches and lamps are easily accessible and your tent is close at hand. Light and shelter? Check. Now you can look at everything else.

6. HEAVY STUFF ON THE BOTTOM

Pack heavy items at the bottom in the centre of your boot and push them back against the seats. This will help centre your vehicle, making for better road handling. It will also give you a solid foundation for placing smaller, lighter items on top.

7. NO SUITCASES NEEDED

When it comes to camping, avoid suitcases. They’re awkward, heavy and take up an unnecessary amount of space. Rather take your clothes along in a duffel bag or soft backpack – they can mould into any shape and can be squashed without damage. You don’t need neatly ironed clothes on a camping trip.

8. FILL THE GAPS

No matter how tightly you pack the big items, there will always be gaps and they can be useful. Fill these with loose items e.g. spare blankets, hiking boots, small plastic containers etc. or with items you might need on the way. e.g. a picnic blanket for a pit stop.

9. UP TOP IS A GOOD IDEA

If you’re a regular camper or have lots of awkwardly shaped items (like fishing equipment), consider roof racks. Packing items on top of your car will give you the extra space you need. It’s important to use these racks correctly with safety in mind. Always follow the instructions and think safety first.

10. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

While it is important to keep the seats and area around the driver clean and clear, consider packing small day packs or plastic bags for each passenger, especially if you have children on your trip. These might include a small travel pillow, water bottle, snack, and game to keep them comfortable and occupied during the trip.

Obviously the size for your vehicle will have a big impact on how many items you can take with you as you hit the road. However, these tips were selected to help you get organised in terms of how you pack what you want to pack, whatever the size of your vehicle.

Don’t have the plastics products items listed in the above tips?

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