Among all the preparations for going on holiday, loading the car is one of the tasks that too often is left to the last moment. When there’s simply too much luggage and too little space, hard choices must be made about what to leave behind.
As the holiday season approaches, Toyota has produced some useful tips on how to make the most of the space inside your vehicle and load your cargo in a way that’s safe and keeps the car well-balanced.
Accessorise your car
Drivers of Toyota vehicles can choose from a wide range of genuine accessories to help with their holiday loading.
Different items are available for each model in the Toyota range, including capacious and aerodynamically shaped roof boxes, roof-mounted cycle carriers, cargo nets, foldable boxes, boot liners and rear bumper protection plates to help guard against bumps and scratches when loading.
The full range is available online at Toyota’s official ebay store at ToyotaOfficialStore | eBay Stores, and from Toyota retailers, who can also advise on the cost of fitting, if required.
Think about what you want to take and what you need to take. Drawing up a list of essentials that have to be carried means you can prioritise your packing. You can then add on “nice to have” extras if space permits.
Don’t wait until there’s a pile of bags, bikes, pushchairs and tents on the drive before finding out if everything will fit. A dry run well before the day of departure will save you time and help avoid frustration and delays when you’re wanting to be on the road to your destination.
Think outside the box
It is easy to think in terms of boxes as the best form of ad-hoc luggage, but you can make better use of your car’s load space with soft bags that can be pushed into corners and curves.
Today’s cars also come with plenty of additional storage spaces throughout the cabin, from door bins, seatback pockets and console boxes to under-floor areas. Think about how you can use these to ease pressure on boot space.
A balanced car is a safe car
Carrying a full load of passengers and luggage increases your car’s weight, which in turn will have an impact on its handling. As a general rule, try to put your heaviest items as near the middle of the car and as low down as possible. This will help keep the vehicle stable and make driving less arduous if you have a long journey ahead.
A height to remember
If you’ve added a roof box or are using a roof-mounted cycle rack, remember to make a note of the change in your car’s height and think before you enter a car park with low ceilings or barriers. A moment’s inattention could cause some expensive damage.
Remember too, that the change in height might affect your ferry or Eurotunnel booking.
Keep a clear view
It’s tempting to load every part of the car to the roof in order to squeeze everything in, but doing so can compromise the driver’s view. Safety comes first, so make sure that there is a good field of vision from the steering wheel and that the rearward view is clear. If the height of your load means you cannot use the rear-view mirror, make sure your door mirrors are clear and properly positioned; remember to adapt your driving style to check the door mirrors regularly.
Keep the essentials close at hand
Before you pack the car, think about the things you may need to lay your hands on quickly. Keep safety items such as a warning triangle, torch and hi-vis jackets within reach, along with your first aid kit and any essential medicines.
If your trip takes you to the Continent, be sure to research the items you are required to carry by law in each country you pass through, not just at your destination. Keep these items together and at hand should you be stopped by the police or highway authorities.
Make sure children have their favourite toys with them and if you’re travelling with infants, ensure nappies, wipes, bottles and other items are easy to locate.
If your journey involves an overnight stop, keep one bag packed with everything everyone in the family needs in terms of toiletries, clothes and chargers. This will avoid the need to unload and unpack several different suitcases.
Keep it covered
A luggage-laden car can be a target for thieves, so if you’re leaving your vehicle at any time during your journey, try to keep the contents of the load space out of sight, using a tonneau cover, or conceal your bags with a car blanket. If you can, take any essential or valuable items with you.
If you’re carrying bikes or a roof box, make sure they are securely locked. If you’re going to be away from the vehicle for some time, perhaps overnight, it’s wise to use a secure or monitored car park if you can.
Labelled with love
Your holiday should not start with cries of “where did I put the… ?” Some simple organisation can save time and calm tempers. Keep a checklist of what is packed where, or label your bags with details of what’s inside. Sensible list-making can also help avoid leaving things behind when you make the return journey.
Try to find a parking spot where you have space to open all the doors and the tailgate, and can stack things on the ground without getting in the way of traffic or passers-by. Unpacking in a hurry in a cramped space is not a good way to mark your arrival.
Think about the things you will need first when you reach your destination. For example, if you’re heading to a self-catering property, don’t lose time on arrival searching for the local directions and information sheet. If you’re camping, your tent and everything you need to erect it should be in one, easily accessible place.
And if it’s been a tiring journey, think about tea, coffee, or something stronger that will help you help relax and get the holiday vibe going.