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How to Pack More in Your Car When Moving

Tips for Small Space Packing


Whether you're moving across town or across the country, packing the car is an essential step in the moving process, particularly if you're moving long distance and will be undertaking a road trip. Make sure your car is packed right so everyone you love rides comfortably and arrives safely.

Determine What You Need to Pack

As is the case for every move, the first step is to always sort, shrink (as in getting rid of of stuff) then pack. Sorting through your things and selecting only those items that you need and make use of will help when it comes to packing. Knowing what you need to pack and what you'll be leaving behind allows you to better plan how best to use the limited space that you have.

If you're only packing a few items - items that you didn't want to pack in the moving truck - then determine what can be packed into a box, what is fragile, and the stuff that won't break no matter what. I always pack and move our electronics by car since they're heavy and can cost a lot to move, and because they're fragile and require some tender-loving care. If you do want to move electronics in your car, remember that if you're moving long distance, you'll need to stop overnight. So make sure your electronics are packed safely and aren't a magnate for would-be thieves.

Tools to Help You Pack More in Your Car

  • Overhead Carriers: The first trick to packing more in your car is to pack it on the outside. Overhead carriers are the best invention for people on the move. They allow you to store your cargo safely and easily while ensuring that they're secure from the weather and are protected should be have to spend a night on the road.

    But overhead carriers are not all created equal so we've written a full article on how to purchase a rack and carrier that will be perfect for both your vehicle and the size of your move.

  • Vacuum Storage Bags: For items that take a lot of room, such as bedding and clothes, these bags are the perfect solution for fitting more into a tight space. They're fairly inexpensive and can shrink bulky items down to a small size that will fit into cubby holes and between boxes in the back of your car or in the overhead carrier. I don't recommend them for items that need to retain their fluffiness after the move, such as pillows or pillowed jackets, as the vacuum will remove all the air inside the pockets leaving you with a flat and sometimes useless item.
  • Use Bags Not Boxes or Luggage: If you don't like the idea of purchasing vacuum bags, use ordinary bags (clear garbage bags will do) for items that can be squeezed into small spaces such as under the seat or in trunk corners. Luggage won't conform to the shape of your space so any items that are soft should be packed in bags. Personally, I prefer to use small backpacks that will squish into tiny spaces. They're also easier to handle and carry when necessary.
  • Use Small Boxes When You Can: For items that need protecting, try to use small boxes with packing peanuts. Small boxes can be fit into more awkward spaces than large and will allow you to make room in the back so the driver has clear visibility. If you do invest in an overhead carrier, use it to store the boxes and fragile items - things that you're less likely to need during your journey. That way, you won't need to unpack and pack every day.
  • Make Use of Every Space: It's amazing how many hidden spaces are in a car. The spot under the front seats is an ideal spot to store extra water bottles, snacks that are packaged and books. In the trunk or the back of the hatch, the wheel wells are perfect spots to store backpacks, bags of clothes, and even shoes. The area around the spare tire can also be used, although you should make sure that the tire is easy to get at. If you need to change a tire at night, the last thing you want to do is to dig for the tire. Keep footwells clear especially on long trips. Small items can be stored at your feet, but make sure you and your passengers are comfortable and safe first.
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