It may seem like one of the less important aspects of preparing for your trip, an overloaded or badly packed car can not only be annoying—it can also be dangerous. In preparation for the bank holiday at the end of the month, here’s a useful guide to help you get ready for your perfect weekend getaway.
How much you take depends on the size of your car and the needs of you and any passengers you may have with you. Here are some tips that anyone can use that you can adjust based on your specific situation.
Pack the things you will need during the journey in a place you can access easily. Pack food and water in a separate bag that can be easily reached alongside any personal comfort items. The same goes for things like toys or tablets for younger passengers. You really do not want to have to make an unplanned stop just to get a drink or a pack of wipes out when a well-planned bag in the passenger’s footwell could avoid it.
Conversely, pack the things you really won’t need at the bottom of the boot. Luggage and items you simply wouldn’t use during a journey can be carefully packed away well out of reach. You can also plan this packing ahead of time. Work out which bags will fit well together and create a solid packing area.
Always pack items you might need throughout the journey separately to other luggage
When it comes to space, consider removing some softer items from the initial packing and then stuff them into gaps once the bulk of the items are in place.
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This way you can take advantage of gaps that would not fit anything else and it also helps keep luggage from moving around too much if you need to brake suddenly.
Visibility and handling
If a car is really full, it is likely that some or all of the rear view will be blocked inside the car.
While this is not illegal, it is something that you need to be careful of. If there’s no way to avoid blocking the view from the rear window, try to adjust your door mirrors inwards so they allow you to see behind the car a little better. It is also worth remembering that things packed higher than the rear headrests could move forward under heavy braking. Try to reserve this space for very light, soft things that will not hurt anyone if they were to move during the journey.
How a car handles and feels to drive will vary if you have a lot of extra weight.This is something to be very aware of when approaching roundabouts and sharp bends. If the car is heavily packed, drive a little slower and take corners at less speed than you normally would. Also remember that your car may not accelerate as fast as normal, which means pulling out of junctions may take a little longer.
Try and avoid blocking the view from the rear window if you can
Always check the tyre pressure before setting off. The manual should give a loaded type pressure so be sure to adjust them accordingly. If your car is fully loaded, the front will naturally point upwards slightly. While this may not seem like a big issue when driving, your dipped headlights will dazzle people coming the other way. So adjust your lights to point downwards to counteract this. If you are unsure about how to do this, consult your manual.
Roof racks, roof boxes and bike racks can be really practical, but they do call for extra care and attention when driving and parking. Be aware of the extra height and length of the car. It is very important to check racks and attachments at every stop because they can become loose and the possibility of something falling off is very dangerous!
Wherever you’re going and whatever car you drive, you should always plan for a long journey, take plenty of breaks, check things haven’t moved around too much and be sure to drive more carefully if the car is heavily loaded.
Customers of the Motability Scheme can also rest assured that they have the breakdown assistance benefits of insurance with the RAC should they need it–even if your road trip takes you to other countries in the EU.