Chloe Allen

Chloe Allen

Our Digital Marketing Executive Chloe is in charge of our e-newsletter. There's no one better placed to inform and delight you every month, so keep your eyes peeled for her newsletter hitting an email inbox near you soon.

Read time of 5 minutes.

Our essential guide is proof that size really doesn't matter. 

Half-term is upon us and you've agreed to take the kids camping - but the available space in your vehicle is proving a challenge. 

Worry not! No matter the size of your car, packing smartly is the key difference between a successful trip and a disastrous one.

If you’re gearing up for a trip with the kids (and the dog), or are thinking ahead for the summer holidays, our guide to packing smart means you never have to worry about having room for all the essentials.

Planning is key

No matter if you’re leasing a Toyota Aygo or a Volkswagen Tiguan, all that storage space is wasted if you don’t plan best how to make use of it.

Start by making a list of everything you’ll be taking on the trip with you – from the tent you’ll be sleeping in, to the clothes you plan to wear. Which items do you anticipate taking up the most space?

Visualise which items you will need to access first. You don’t want to be digging around for them when you arrive, so they should be packed last, or placed closest to doors for easy reach.

If you really think you’re not going to fit everything in, pack the essentials early in the process.

Big items first

The trick is to pack your car as evenly as you can, so that all the weight isn’t going on one side or axle. It’s also harder to pack bulky or heavy items into smaller spaces.

Therefore, it makes sense when faced with the monstrous job of packing, to start with the big items on your list first. Things like tents, kitchen bags and camping chairs all need to go in the boot and go in first.

You might want to get the kids strapped in too – it’ll be easier to pack around them than have them climb in over things.

Once they’re in place, it’ll simply be like playing the world’s most high-stakes game of Tetris fitting the rest of your gear in the gaps that are left.

Bags, not boxes

Boxes take up and waste a lot of space. Bags, on the other hand, are more pliable and easier to pack in a car with limited space.

Big black bin bags have long been the champion of the aggrieved university student moving into halls, as they are reasonably durable, require little organisation and can be packed chock-full. They’ll be equally suitable for camping – when you need to move a high volume of stuff with as little inconvenience as possible.

Of course, if you want to take it a step further, vacuum pack storage bags are also a good way to go for clothes, bedding and sleeping bags. They’ll shrink your items to a fraction of the size, creating more available space in your car.

A small red car on a remote camping site

Split up your cooking equipment and supplies

Alright, so the camping stove might need to go all in one piece, but the rest of it can be separated and stored sensibly to fit in the remaining space.

The stove can generally fit in a backseat footwell. Just make sure any gas canisters are easily recognisable and never left unattended (just to add to the list, packing a fire extinguisher probably wouldn’t be a bad idea).

If you’re taking a cool box, this can fit in the other footwell with any non-perishables secured on top. Plates and cutlery can even be stored in a bag if they’re made of non-fragile materials.

Visibility is actually important

Just because something fits in the space, it doesn’t mean it should be stored there; before you get to the camping site, you still have to make it there in one piece.

Make sure that whoever is driving can still see out of all windows and that the rear-view mirror view is not obscured. Driving safely requires decent visibility all around.

Likewise, the driver still needs to be able to access everything important so don’t pack items in too closely around them.

Make use of every space

You don’t want to overload your car, but make sure you really are taking advantage of all the available space. Don’t forget about storage compartments like ones between seats, the seat back-pockets and even space under seats.

In some cases, you may even be able to pack some items in the area around a spare tyre (if your car has one). If some rear passenger seats will be empty or unused, consider pushing them down to create more space for items in the boot.