Road Trip Packing To The Max

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Our family of five recently went on a trip to Disney World. We decided to drive and not fly to save money. From our house to Disney is an 18 hour drive.

When I picked out my Trailblazer I thought more about my day to day life than once a year road trips. With that in mind I opted out of the third row of seats.  My hubby rarely drives with us and my son is old enough to occupy the front passenger seat, making the bench seat in the back very roomy for my two youngest children.

How to pack your vehicle for a road trip so that every inch of space is used effectively

So when faced with the upcoming 2 day drive with all five of us in the vehicle, I had to think about how to maximize my trunk space as well as passenger space.

Here is what I came up with.

How to make use of every square inch of your vehicles trunk space for a road trip.

I used 4 big plastic totes and 4 smaller plastic totes as well as 2 XXL Ziploc bags. I always find that luggage doesn’t stack well, and therefore inefficient in maximizing space. The bins were also easier to access when we needed something at  a rest stop.

To start, I carried out two totes to the vehicle, and made sure that they would fit, and figured out just how many I could fit and what configuration would work best.

Once I figured out exactly how many totes we could fit, and what size, I then went around the house emptying out totes we already had and putting them all in one central location of the house to begin packing.

Knowing exactly what would fit, really helped me decide what to bring and what not to bring.

I made sure to leave a little space in each bin to allow for purchases on the trip. Which was a good thing, because they were stuffed to capacity on the trip home.

All our belongings fit in these totes, our pillows went in the oversize ziploc bags. Down the sides of the totes I stuffed our 5 day packs and in the middle of the totes, I fit our 5 collapsible lunch coolers.

I also wanted to make sure that the kids had their Nintendo DS handy, as well as their iPods and my sons kindle. I wanted these items to be out of the way of their feet, and off their laps. My husband came up with the idea of slinging his work cooler over the headrest, and it worked great. (here is a cooler similar to the one we have, perhaps a bit larger but very similar)

How to make the most of your cars space for a long road trip

I then found a canvas bag that I could sling over the other head rest that held our first round of snacks and waters.

It is not shown but in the middle of the two front seats we placed my daughters portable DVD player, and strapped its case to the front seat head rests as well.

This system worked amazingly well for us. We have decided for our next road trip we will change only one thing, and that is we want to purchase one more cooler for the back of  the other head rest as the canvas bag hung down too low and got in the way of the children’s knees.

How about you? Do you have any tips on how to pack the family vehicle to the max for a long road  trip?

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How to maximize your carry on luggage space I can't believe what fit in this bag! (med)Learn how I maximize every inch of my carry-on luggage

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  1. We are driving out to Wisconsin in July to visit friends. I am definitely going to do the bag thing over the seats for my boys. Thanks so much for the idea. Visiting from Tackle It Tuesday, have a great week!

  2. I love to pack in those tubs! I have been doing it for years! They stack so much better than luggage, and the harder sides makes them easier to configure! Love the cooler idea! I am definitely using that!

  3. We totally use totes when we travel also – plus I’ve found it is so much easier to bring them into the condo – they stack so nicely on the luggage racks!

    • Victoria says:

      I agree Pam. We were able to load them up on the luggage racks no problem and they stayed securely on the luggage rack till we were in our rental.

  4. Loved this article! We are getting ready for a road trip soon. I’m visiting from Just saw your post from the Tuesday link-up from Growing home! Blessings to you!!!

  5. Just wondering. What you did with the bins when you got to your hotel at Disney World. How did you get them into your room? Would be hard to carry with no wheels or handles…

    • The bins themselves do have handles at the ends. We load them up on on hotel trolleys all the time without issue. It is actually easier than loading up suitcases on those trolleys.

  6. I like the idea of totes rather than suitcase because you can see better what and where things are within the tote. I saw on another blog that the woman got one of those plastic drawer things to put things in, such as toiletry items to freshen up at rest areas, or each days outfit for long road trips when you may not always stay at a hotel. The daily outfits may not be convienant for a family, but if its just 1-2 people for the trip it would be easy

  7. We recently moved across country. In a van. With 3 older kids, a golden retriever and a cat. We also used lots of storage bins but purchased a trash container that goes over the headrest so that the rubbish was out of our way. Love the idea for using larger containers for everything!


  1. […] final pile I attacked this week was in the upstairs hallway. It was mostly made of up totes we used to pack for our vacation to Disney World. Sadly however, we have been home from Florida for over a month and they were still […]

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