Packing & Preparing Your Car For A Family Holiday
Summer time often means road trips for many families as that’s the cheapest way to travel if you have a few kids. Going on holiday as a family can often be quite stressful with organising all the luggage and fitting it all in the car…
Here are some tips on how to pack things into your car and how to prepare your car for a family roadtrip.
Packing the Car Like a Pro’
Know your boot’s dimensions to easily figure out which bags and items will actually fit and which baby gear you’ll have to leave at home. Remove anything you don’t need and store it somewhere else to free up space for necessary items and marginally reduce your fuel consumption. If the boot alone just won’t do, a roof rack with a box may be the key to fitting everything in without struggling.
The way you load luggage into the car can be crucial. Always make sure larger items of luggage go in first, otherwise you could have wasted space where smaller items could be crammed in. Put big suitcases on the bottom, small luggage on top and slot in smaller items wherever they can fit.
Make sure though that your rear windows aren’t blocked up with large items and ensure nothing loose could go flying around the cabin and distract you or, worse, cause injury to occupants. Everything needs to be secured, with no obstruction to the driver’s visibility.
If you want to save even more space, use vacuum bags in your suitcases. They’ll make a huge difference to the volume of your clothes and other soft items. They also make it easy to take your own pillows if you’re fussy about those kinds of things. You do need to know that there’s a vacuum cleaner at your destination too if you’re planning to take the items back home with you at the end of your holiday.
Ask yourself while packing – do I really need that item? Do that for every item and you’re sure to pack less. You need to be ruthless so you’re left with more room for the things you do need to take. It’s quite refreshing travelling lightly if you can!
There are lots of hidden areas in the car that can be used for packing. Make the most of them! The gaps under the seats, in the footwell and in the glovebox… these areas can be filled too. You’d be stunned at the amount of luggage that even small cars can swallow if you make use of all the available space.
Prep the Car Before your Journey
Check the level of your engine oil, coolant and brake fluid. This is to ensure your car is working as effectively as possible and to prevent any nasty surprises when you’re out and about. Refer to your car’s user manual to see how you check each of these. Make sure all are topped up and keep an eye out for any leaks and discolourations.
- Check your screen wash and windscreen wipers
Travelling with a family is stressful enough – you don’t want to add not being able to see out the windscreen properly to the list of distractions. Summer can bring lots of windscreen hazards like squashed bugs and road dust that can block your vision, so having a working set of wipers is a must.
Ensure your wipers are in good condition! Cracked wipers won’t clear the screen effectively so pop down to your local car parts centre and purchase replacement ones if needed. They’re really easy to install and usually clip on and off easily.
Keep your washer fluid topped up. You can see how much washer fluid you have by looking in the reservoir in the engine bay. If it’s low, refill it with washer fluid. Avoid water because it can rust metal components and can damage parts if it freezes.
- Check your tyres and tyre pressures
Your tyres are, ultimately, the only things keeping your car on the road so help ensure your your family holiday gets off to a great start and doesn’t end up at the side of the M25 by keeping your tyres in tip top condition. Check that they have sufficient thread and make sure they’re at the correct pressure. You can find the correct tyre pressures for your car online or by reading a sticker in one of your car’s front door openings and get air at the petrol station.
Also ensure that you have a roadworthy spare tyre so that you can replace it in case of a puncture.
- Make sure your electrics work
You should make sure your brake and headlights are in working condition. The easiest way to do this is to get a friend to stand outside and watch to see if any bulbs have blown. If no one’s available, park up in front of a building with large windows and check your lights in the reflections in the window.
- Check your ventilation and air conditioning
Make sure it’s all in working order before you set off by simply starting the car and turning the air conditioning to its coldest setting. Put your hand over one of the interior air vents to see if the air is coming out cold. If it isn’t cold or as cold as it should be, take it to your local car repair centre to have your air-con unit checked out. It may simply need filling back up with refrigerant gas or it might require more extensive repairs.
Thank you to independent car buying website carwow’s Motoring Expert, Mat Watson, for some of these tips!