Long road trip ahead? Here’s how to pack your car


Every Easter, the spirit of adventure beckons many South Africans to hit the open road for unforgettable journeys.

Whether you’re heading to the coastal bliss of Durban or the scenic landscapes of the Garden Route, a well-packed car can make all the difference in turning your road trip into a seamless and enjoyable experience.

“If you’ve been on a road trip before, you’ll know from experience that the inside of the car can get cluttered, messy and disorganised pretty quickly,” points out Barend Smit, the marketing director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions. He continues to share some tips on how to efficiently pack your car for a safe journey.

Before your trip, make a list of everything you need to take along. Once it’s packed into bags – check it off your list. That way, when you are ready to start packing the car, you aren’t stressing about whether you’ve packed those must-have trip items.

“If you’re planning a cross-border trip, be sure to pack passports and other essential documents,” he advises. “This is where MotorHappy’s free online service will come in handy. When motorists register for MotorHappy DRIVE, they get immediate access to an online vault, where they can store digital copies of all their important vehicle, insurance and travel documentations. This service is freely available to anyone who owns a car, not only for MotorHappy customers.”

When you register for the free online service, you can also access discount vouchers for tyres and car rentals, as well as various lifestyle offerings.

Once you’re clear about the list of items you need for your road trip, begin to gather all the luggage in one place, so you can assess the space to luggage ratio before loading everything into your boot. Smit says to start packing bigger, heavier items first, things like camping fridges, cooler boxes, bigger suitcases, etc. “Then, pretend you’re playing a game of Tetris; fit the rest of your luggage into the boot, finding suitable slots for the various-sized bags. This trick helps you fill in any empty spaces and maximises the space you have.”

Make sure you’ve packed as much luggage into actual bags (like duffle bags or kit bags etc) so that you don’t have any loose items flying around. The very last items that should be packed into the car should be those items that you might need along the way. The last thing you want is to unpack everything during your pit stop at the garage to find that cosy hoodie right at the bottom.

“While loading all your holiday essentials, remember to be prepared in case of an emergency,” says Smit. “Make sure your emergency car tools (such as your jumper cables, triangle, tyre kit, etc.) as well as your first aid kit are all easily accessible. Most cars have the spare tyre under the boot, in which case unpacking your entire boot is necessary to get to it. But imagine having to unpack your entire boot just to get your emergency triangle or a headache tablet for your passengers.”

No matter how much you need to take along, never overpack your car to the extent that it is unsafe or affects your visibility. If you simply can’t fit all your passengers and their luggage into a car safely, consider hiring a trailer or roof box to ensure a comfortable and safe trip.

Snacks are probably one of the most important “necessities” to have on a road trip. Before you head out, make sure you’ve packed enough snacks for the entire trip. To save space inside the car, section your road trip snacks into the different legs of your trip and keep the rest packed away in the boot. Keep your drinks cool by placing them in a cooler bag or mini-car fridge. Also, don’t forget an empty packet for your rubbish.

Besides choosing comfortable clothing to travel in, it’s wise for you and your passengers to bring along a few comfort items that you may need during the trip. Smit suggests items like a travel pillow, a blanket, an oversized jumper and socks are all a good idea. Another suggestion is to bring along a towel. If it’s a hot trip and you’ve got leather seats in your car, you’ll be a lot more comfortable sitting on top of a beach towel (which can also then be used during your holiday.