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How to Pack Your Car When Moving

Knowing how to pack your car when moving is trickier than it sounds. You need to make the most of limited space, while at the same time, protecting your belongings and keeping the trip as safe as possible. Whether you’re hiring movers or transporting everything on your own, follow these tips to get the most from your vehicle.

Young men putting bags in a vehicle

Sort Your Items

Before you start packing, sort through your stuff and decide what you want to bring with you and what you want to leave for your moving company. You might want to consider items movers won’t transport, such as jewelry, personal documents, family heirlooms, and important paperwork, including your moving estimate. Leave out any hazardous or perishable items, such as food, bleach, and fireworks. Or, if you’re handling the move on your own, focus on the bare essentials ‒ items you know you’ll immediately need in your new home.

If you’re moving long distance, bring a few things that you’ll need when you arrive, such as cleaning supplies, extra clothes, bedding, and toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, sunscreen, deodorant, comb, razor, etc.). Snacks and entertainment are a good idea as well, to take the edge off the long drive. Pets and plants, which need to be transported in a safe environment, also belong in your car.

Clean Out Your Car

Cars accumulate odds and ends over the years, things you use day to day that take up valuable space. You’ll need every square inch inside your vehicle, so take everything out of your car before you begin packing ‒ even items you know you’ll bring with you, such as a toolbox or road emergency kit. When you repack, you’ll most likely need to store them in a new location, either to make room for other items or to ensure they’re not buried or out of reach.

Use Plastic Bags Instead of Boxes

While plastic and cardboard boxes are staples of the moving industry, they’re not suited to your car. They take up too much room and their rigid structure makes it difficult to squeeze objects around them. On the other hand, plastic bags keep your things organized and they’re flexible, allowing you to make better use of the available space. Get the toughest (heavy duty) plastic bags you can find, at least two millimeters thick, so they can withstand wear and tear. Consider purchasing vacuum bags for fluffy items such as clothing, bedding, and pillows, as they will compress soft objects, making them easier to wedge into the nooks and crannies of your car.

Pack Essential Items First

When sorting your items, order them according to importance. Load items you need to bring first, then add items you'd only like to bring. Otherwise, you might have to unload your car and start over after discovering you don't have room for something you can’t do without. Heavy items should be placed on the bottom of your car, with lighter items up top. This not only protects your belongings, but yourself and your passengers as well. Should the car come to a sudden stop, you don’t want heavy objects flying over the seats.

Use Every Space You Can

Stuff items into every part of your car: the trunk, back seats, passenger seat, footwells, glove compartment, map pockets, back seat pockets, under the seats, even your spare tire cavity, if there’s room. The only place that’s off limits is the driver’s footwell, where loose objects could interfere with the operation of the car.

Use Clothes and Blankets for Padding

Bubble wrap is strong and reliable, but it takes up a lot of space. Kill two birds with one stone by using blankets, pillows, and clothing instead. Layering them around fragile items protects them from bumps and turns, and since you need to bring them anyway, you're saving yourself from extra work and materials.

Keep Your Windows Clear

There is a limit to the amount of material you can transport in your car, both in weight and volume. Once your bags and boxes reach the windows, the car is full. That includes both the rear and side windows. You need a clear, unobstructed view while you’re on the road, so you can see what’s going on around you at all times.

Distribute Weight Evenly

Don’t place all your heavy items in one section of the car. Spread them out so their weight is distributed over the entire vehicle. An unbalanced car is difficult to control, especially when cornering. It also hurts fuel economy while wearing down your tires and suspension.

Help Moving Long Distance

Knowing how to pack your car when moving is a great way to save money, especially during your first move. For most moves, however, your car likely won’t be enough. You’ll need a team of professional movers, able to load and handle large, heavy, and delicate items.

North American Moving Services coordinates thousands of interstate moves every year. Our teams can help with every task, from loading to packing to storage. No matter how big the challenge, we’re here for you. So contact us today for a free, customized quote!