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Packing the Car for a Holiday Road Trip

Traveling at the holiday means you’re usually on the road with too many other people, all headed to see their loved ones in time for the big day. Between extra traffic and treacherous weather, it may not be the most fun you’ve every had while traveling, but we’ve got some tips to help make that road trip more enjoyable for everyone.

Renting an economy vehicle, or driving your own car that’s easy on gas, can save some money on fuel costs, but you may sacrifice comfort. The longer you’re in the vehicle, the more cramped you’ll get, so we recommend driving a car just a little bigger than you think you’ll need. This should give you some extra leg room and more room for holiday packages.

If you’re traveling through mainstream areas, it may not be a problem, but if you plan on going through some sparsely populated country, you may run out of radio station options. Consider renting a Sirius XM unit or bringing along your own portable satellite radio. It’s easy to push a button and have your choice of numerous holiday music stations or traffic news.

Another music option is a play list! Save it to your phone or other mobile device and you’re on your way to singing along as you head down the highways.

Combine suitcases. If you’re going to unpack on the other end anyway, it may save you a case or two in your trunk. Give each kid a backpack to pack their own road trip supplies and then you won’t have to worry about reaching something that’s in a case packed far away into the back.

Stopping at fun restaurants along the way is part of a road trip adventure, but if you get stuck on the road or traffic delays you, it’s always good to have food available. A styrofoam cooler can be purchased at a convenience store for just a few dollars, so if you’re renting a car, you can recycle it or donate it before you return your car without being out much money. Stock it with a few drinks, water, and keep a bag of simple but non-messy snacks that won’t stain your clothes if you’re headed to an important event or without access to laundry machines.

Speaking of laundry, the inevitable mess is going to happen. Be ready so you don’t have to waste too much time on clean-up. Have a bag of supplies handy: a stain remover stick, handy wipes, paper towels and a few spare plastic bags. All of this is easily purchased in the dollar store/aisle and when you return your rental car to hop back on your plane home, you can throw away what remains without losing much.

Traveling during inclement weather? A few trash bags stuffed in a suitcase pocket can hold wet and muddy gear or boots so you don’t get the car messy and have to worry about kids getting it on their clothes. Keep your travel docs in a manila folder, including maps you print out in the event you lose cell service and your maps app doesn’t work; if you want to, go the extra step and slide that folder into a large zippered plastic bag, with a pen, so it won’t get wet or ruined.

Charging your equipment while on the road is always a good idea in case you get stuck somewhere along the way, or you get to a crowded airport and all the charging stations are full. It’s not always easy though when you have a car full of people, so pack an extra charger (or two) and if you can, make at least one of them a dual port. Getting to an airport or arriving for a layover only to find that a charger isn’t working makes for stressful travel, especially if you’re relying on your phone to alert someone to your arrival or to find your car rental location.

When packing your luggage, put the things you won’t need until arrival in the far back. If you have soft-sided luggage, this is great on the top of the pile as you can squish it more easily, especially if you put the fragile items in the hard-sided cases. Pillows, blankets and coats can fill in the cracks. Just be sure to not block your mirrors as that is a ticket-able offense in many states.

Drive carefully and enjoy your holiday travel!