8 Foolproof Packing Tips

by Christine Loomis; Peter Herbst; Jeannette Lam

8 Foolproof Packing Tips

A stress-free car vacation starts with a well-packed suitcase

8 Foolproof Packing Tips Even on the road, take a tip from the friendly skies: Go with one bag and one carry-on per person.

Soft-sided luggage is easier to pack in a car and if any bags are going to be in the seating area, soft is safer. That doesn’t mean you have to lug them everywhere. Both L.L. Bean and KT Travel Gear carry easy-to-pack rolling duffels.

Put larger bags in the trunk; if you can’t get them all in, consider a car-top luggage carrier, such as those by Sherpak available through Seattle Sports.

A few days before the trip, give each child a small, soft bag to have in the car. Let her fill it with anything she’ll want during the drive. L.L. Bean’s colorful Adventure duffel, small or medium size, is perfect.

Having enough room to stay comfortable is crucial for keeping everyone happy. Avoid piling luggage around the kids in the backseat; it’s a surefire way to make them cranky.

A cooler with snacks will also keep young travelers happy, but be sure it’s small enough not to get in the way in the backseat.

Backseat organizers that hang on the back of the front seat are handy space-savers with roomy pockets kids can fill with stuff they’ll use often.

For meals in the car, buy travel trays ; they’re more stable than a fidgety lap.

If you’ll be staying overnight at motels or campgrounds, pack overnight essentials (toothbrushes, shampoo, pajamas) in one small bag. Put this into your trunk last so you have a minimal amount of baggage to unload at the end of a long day. (You’ll also avoid repacking bags every morning.)