Tips on Packing the Car for a Family Road Trip

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While National Lampoon’s Vacation is one of our favorite movies, we think it’s safe to assume you don’t want to be like Clark Griswold. We’re with you. His ill-fated family trip to Walley World is basically the road trip worst-case scenario.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of tips for packing the car for your family road trip. We want you to have a great vacation in Myrtle Beach, and we know proper planning will ensure a smooth ride. So check out this list as you plan your family road trip!

Don’t forget the in-car entertainment.
Even if you don’t have a vehicle with the in-car theater system (we’ve always loved the nickname “Oreo Speedwagon” for those family vans), you can still keep kids entertained in the car. There are the obvious answers like hand-held games and iPods, but don’t forget the low-tech options. 20 questions, I Spy, license plate games or Mad Libs can be a fun family activity in the car, and younger kids can enjoy craft projects with pipe cleaners ( like “who can make the best eyeglasses?”) .

Pack good snacks and meals.
You’ll need a cooler for the beach, so start by stocking it up for the road. Sandwiches and wraps are easy to eat in the car or in a roadside picnic, and can help cut down on the cost of pit stops on the way to Myrtle Beach. Divvy up your dry snacks in ziplock baggies and pre-portion veggies and fruits, though beware the easily squished banana. Beware sugary snacks, which can contribute to back-seat bouncing and grumpy crashes.

• Messes happen. Be prepared!
Most parents think this way automatically, but it bears repeating: Whether or not you’re traveling with kids, don’t forget to stuff a roll of paper towels and some wet wipes somewhere handy. Old plastic grocery bags can be useful for garbage collection, too.

Pack smart for safety.
Getting the actual luggage in the car isn’t just a matter of making it all fit, there’s also safety to consider. Vehicles vary, but if you’ve got a full load, make an effort to pack the heaviest items as far forward and as close to the bottom of the cargo area as possible. You want to keep the center of gravity low, and you don’t want your vehicle to be top-heavy. If you end up stacking on top of the car, not only will you need to assure that your load is properly secured, but you will also want to be certain you pay attention to your clearance in parking areas.

What did we miss? Share your road trip packing tips in the travel forum!

Posted 4/4/13