Shannon Benton
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DIY Moving 101: Tips for Packing the Car

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Tips for Packing the Car

Tips for Packing the Car Photo: Joe Wolf

Half the battle is packing the suitcase. The other half is fitting all those bags (preferable over rigid boxes for their flexibility) into the car. If you have ever packed your belongings and moved yourself to a new home, you know the truth of that statement. In lieu of wrestling with bale and twine and precariously balanced furniture, read on for some helpful suggestions on packing the car as you embark on your new adventure.

1. What are you taking?

A wise woman once said that now is the time to prioritize. Does that oversized stuffed giraffe you planned to tie onto the car’s roof really need to be in your new home? If it holds significant sentimental value, then by all means, please pack it. But now is your chance to decide what you can’t live without, what’s fragile and requires extra care, and what you can toss in at the last minute if you happen to have extra room. Take advantage of this time to throw or give your excess junk away.

2. Is your car clean?

Sorry if your car normally looks like a fast-food bomb exploded. You’re going to need to clean that mess out to make as much room as possible for your belongings. Besides, you don’t really want to mix your bedding with stale, cheese-covered wrappers do you?

Packing the Car

Tips for Packing the Car Photo: Joe Schlabotnik

3. How does it all fit?

Once you’ve decided what to bring and you have a clean slate to work with, you can begin fitting the puzzle pieces together. It’s show time for all of those items you prioritized earlier as must-haves. These should be packed first, unless you’ll need to reach them at some point during the trip. In which case, set them aside for a moment in a package labeled “Pack This Last” or “Open First,” whichever you prefer.

Next, you should start loading those items you found needed to be packed in a box. Boxes should be followed by items in bags and other flexible packaging that can fill the nooks and crannies the boxes create. For instance, that body pillow can be squeezed next to your bin of the 100 books you can’t live without.

Save time and space by keeping your clothes on hangers on the hangers, and place them on top of your other luggage last. After all, they are going back into a closet, right?

4. What if there isn’t enough room?

If you’re running out of room inside the car – as in you’re starting to cover the back window can hardly find your seat – consider strapping some of your more durable belongings to the outside of your car. While it does negatively affect your vehicle’s fuel economy, a carefully secured roof rack or other overhead carrier on the top of the car will give you more space to cram your belongings. And if you need the space, you need the space. However, don’t forget you have bags tied to the top of your car! Using an overheard carrier will likely require you to leave a wider turning radius and greater stopping distance, even more so than a fully-packed vehicle on its own would require.

Before you close the car doors, don’t forget to squeeze into the front passenger seat your “Pack This Last” box with all the items you’ll need during the trip and when you first reach your destination. Okay, you may have to squeeze it onto someone’s lap.

Moving always promises to be a busy time, but if you organize and strategize before loading the car, the experience can be more adventurous than stressful. Who knows; maybe you’ll even have enough energy to stop and smell the roses along the way.

  • Shannon Benton

    Shannon Benton does not enjoy writing “About Me” blurbs. However, she does enjoy writing about cars and car-related subjects, which is what really counts. She is an avid reader whose favorite pastime is curling up in an oversized chair with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a soup bowl-size mug of hot chocolate or salted caramel Chai tea latte. In addition to reading and writing (not so much the arithmetic), Shannon has enjoyed dancing for the past two decades. She currently lives and performs in Dayton, OH.