You’ve scheduled your moving day, and you’re hoping to fit everything you own in one carload to minimize expenses. You don’t want to underestimate the space you will need to pack successfully, nor do you want to overestimate your vehicle’s capacity. In addition, you want to be prepared for potential problems that could occur while on the road.
Let’s start with the most important consideration first: your safety.
Before you load up your car, make sure it’s in good repair. Do you have tires that need to be rotated or replaced? Do any essential fluids need to be topped off? What about windshield wipers? You don’t want to be caught in a storm without a functional pair. To help you with these concerns, a quick visit to your mechanic may be in order.
Once you begin to pack your belongings in your vehicle, you’ll definitely see how important it is to make the most of your limited space. But remember to leave enough room for safety essentials such as jumper cables and an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, road flares, and first aid items. Although you’d hate to actually need any of these items, the knowledge that you have them will give you peace of mind.
Although you’re probably most anxious about fitting all of your belongings in your car, your comfort is also important. This starts with a clean vehicle before you pack. Remove any items that you won’t need at your new place so you have additional space for everything else. Get off to a fresh, clean start by running over your car upholstery and carpet with a car vacuum.
Whether you’re riding solo or with a passenger, keep the space of occupants in mind as you pack your car. Boxes and bundles that are too close or too high could shift while the car is in motion, posing a safety hazard; ratchet tie down straps can help you secure these items. You’ll also want to make sure the driver’s view is not obstructed in any way during the commute.
Place expensive devices and important papers out of sight in your vehicle so passersby aren’t tempted by the sight of them. You may want to put these items in an opaque bag or even a personal safe.
Now that you’ve addressed your safety and comfort, it’s time to make a plan for efficient packing. Start with an inventory list: you’ll likely have clothing, household items, electronics, and meaningful possessions such as photos and collectibles to organize and store. You may want to spread out a tarp or two in your car to protect larger objects as well as your car’s interior.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to place larger objects in the car first, since you can stack smaller items around them. Make use of the space in your back seat, cargo area, and trunk as needed, taking care to place heavier items in the center so weight is distributed evenly.
A note about boxes and other storage
Although you may need to use some boxes on your move, they tend to be bulky and take up a lot of space. Consider that you might benefit from a set of packing cubes instead of some or all of those boxes. Packing cubes are lightweight, spacious, and stackable, and they often come in sets so you have multiple cubes to work with.
Investing in a few garment bags may be a smart move, too. The bags will allow you to hang up some of your clothes, saving valuable seat and floor space in your car.
If your vehicle is small or your stash is large, you may want to purchase a cargo bag for the top of your vehicle. This space-saving add-on is great for rugs, pillows, blankets, and other items that are soft and unbreakable. Using a cargo bag will free up space for your breakables and other valuables, which you’ll undoubtedly want to secure carefully inside the car.
If you’re moving very far away, you may have one or more overnight stays while en route. Pack a spare set of clothing and some personal items in a duffel bag, backpack, or carry on suitcase. This will prevent you from having to search through all the bags and boxes in your car for what you need.
If you’ll be on the road for long, consider packing a cooler with snacks and drinks, too. This could save you some money on stops as you make your way to your new home. Even if you aren’t moving very far, you might want to have some drinks and edibles on hand for noshing when you get to your new place. After all, you’ll probably be too busy unpacking to prepare a meal or go out for food.
Last but certainly not least, you’ll need a pet carrier or dog crate if you’re traveling with a pet. Or, if you have a dog that will ride by your side or in the back seat, a pet car seat cover will protect your vehicle and make the seat comfortable for your best friend. And don’t forget a bowl, leash, and collar for feedings and stops along the way and when you arrive.
Whether you’re moving it all in one carload for financial reasons or practical reasons, you’ll fare much better with a car that’s in order. Armed with a plan and some pre-organization, you’ll soon be on the road to your new life in your new place.