Car Tetris: How to pack your car to get the most out of the space

Your holiday is booked. As you wait in anticipation for that day to come, you remember you still have one of the worst jobs to do before you leave. That’s right. Packing the car. It can be stressful. Tempers wear thin. And the opinions of by standers watching you pack become a little too much. Their ‘helpful’ comments aren’t helpful. The next thing you know, your much anticipated holiday hasn’t had the happy start you were hoping.

But that’s okay. Because we have some helpful tips to ensure packing the car is as easy and stress free as possible.

Plan ahead

The day before you leave, clean out your car. Take anything that you don’t need out. You might as well give it a vacuum while you’re at it. You don’t want your luggage or clothing getting dirty when you’re all packed.

Next, you’ll need to collect everything that you plan to take with you on your holiday. It’s a good idea to get a feel for how much you’re taking against boot and cabin space. That way, you can take the time to cull any items you don’t really need or that won’t fit. Be ruthless if you have to.

Put aside any items you might need during the trip or what you will need when you arrive. Packing these items last will make life easier in the long run. You might think of it as air travel and consider keeping a bag inside the car for essentials such as food, wet wipes, medications, chargers or rubbish bags.

Pack Smart

Once you’re ready to pack the car, make sure heavier, bulkier items are at the bottom, towards the front of the car in the boot if possible. This will distribute weight over the axel, as too much weight to the rear of the car can cause problems with how the car handles on the road. If you’re having a little trouble with larger items, disassemble them into smaller items (if possible and if you’re confident with reassembling them).

Fill in the gaps of larger items with smaller ones such as bags of clothing or pillows. If you’re not packing soft bags such as a duffel bag, make the most of the boot space by packing suitcases vertically and putting some of the soft items in the cabin of the car.

And remember, last in first out! Pack important items to the back of the boot. This will make them easily accessible, meaning you won’t have to unload to whole car looking for that one item hidden away somewhere in that game of boot Tetris you just spent the prior day playing.

Utilise every bit of space

Common places in a car that don’t get used include the glove compartment or center console. These make perfect spaces for items such as toiletries, first aid items, chargers or the kid’s electronic games. Under the passenger seats are a great place for storing books and other non-breakables that didn’t make it to the boot.

No matter if you’re packing for a road trip, heading out for a week-long holiday or just a couple of days, the way you pack is very much the same. It’s like one big game of Tetris and all you need is practice. And don’t forget, grab a photo of your handy work at the end. Not only can you show off your packing skills, but it’ll help you remember how you packed when you’re ready to load the boot up and head home.

Car packing tips to remember

  • Roll clothes, don’t fold! This will save a heap of space.
  • Make use of car cabin space, such as under the passenger seat for soft, or non-breakable items, glove compartment or center console.
  • Take a photo once you’re all packed. That way, it’ll make the packing up a little easier.
  • Secure your load to prevent items falling into the cabin, if you’re using a 4WD, SUV or wagon that doesn’t have a cage divider.
  • Consider a roof box or rack if practical for your vehicle.
  • Soft duffle bags or similar is preferrable. They save more space than harder bags or suitcases.
  • Remember when packing, last in, first out.