Car-Packing Strategies for a Road Trip

a person packing items in the trunk of their car

Americans won’t let prices at the pump stop them from getting in the way. Whether you’re driving to your grandmother’s house or to a national park, thinking about your luggage will get your trip off to a great start and ensure the safety and comfort of your passengers. With that in mind, consider these suggestions from, a leading site for auto consumers:


Rack ’em up

You can edit Large interior space with roof rack. The safest bet here is to avoid the DIY approach. “Although you may have to pay a little extra, it’s best to buy one from the factory and have the dealer install it,” says Ron Montoya, Edmunds Consumer Advice Editor. It is specifically designed for your vehicle for the best fit and function. Check out our Pregnancy Guide for tips on weight restrictions. Some brochures also specify what can be rack-mounted and how to do it properly.

Avoid crowds

As the flight approaches, make a list of what you really need. Record what you actually use for a week and put those items on the list. Pack up gradually or at least the day or night before rather than jam everything on the morning of the flight when you’re in a hurry. Also, cut back on the essentials by calling ahead to see what’s going to be provided. After all, why bring a hair dryer when your spa provides it? Or enough clothes for a week when you have a washer and dryer in your beach house?

Balance Your Load

Distribute the weight in your package so the load is evenly balanced. Keep heavy objects as close to the center as possible so the car handles better. While vertical integration will save space, don’t obscure the rear view by stacking items too high.

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Keep refreshments on hand

Make sure you have access to a small cooler during the flight with bottled water and other healthy, energy-boosting foods to avoid dehydration and drowsiness. To maintain vigilance behind the wheel, eating small meals and snacks along the way is better than stopping at a buffet of all you can eat and feeling sleepy.

Illuminate the road clearly

If you’re carrying a heavy load, consider adjusting the headlights down a bit. A fully loaded luggage compartment may cause the rear of the vehicle to sag and tilt the headlights too high, obstructing oncoming traffic. The rule of thumb from Edmunds: If the road signs ahead are brightly lit with your lights, you need to adjust them.


Nationwide members with at least five years of driving experience without a fatal accident can Save up to 10 percent .