Packing Tips

Travelling with your family involves taking a lot of stuff.
What if you get hit by a storm?
What if the tyre falls off the trailer?
What if there’s a million march flies?
What if your kids lose their goggles?
What if it’s blowing a gale and the sand whipping around your legs feels like razor blades??
Offroad Living often brings with it that element of surprise, so yeah, we like to take those “just in case” items. While a lone bloke may be able to rough it if he ends up knee deep in mud and forgets a spare pair of shoes, your children wont take so kindly to having to wander around in soggy shoes all day.
Packing the 4WD is an art, it’s kinda like Tetris. So here’s a few tips we’ve learnt along the way:
1. Use smaller, individual, soft bags for clothes: While it may be convenient just to use your old suitcase for everyone’s clothes, or those little, kiddie, pull along trolley bags, these things aren’t amenable to being stuffed and shoved into nooks and crannies. Head to your local department store and grab some small, canvas duffle bags. Something just big enough for each person’s clothing, preferably in different colours so you can easily find each person’s gear. Oh, and if you have to put these on the roof rack, make sure they’re water proof. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to find that that small little rain shower was enough to soak through the bag to your son’s jimmie jams…
2. Use one bag or box for bulkier items: For things like shoes, toiletry bags and larger jackets. Having these items in one location makes them easier to find, and allows clothes bags to be just for clothes, alleviating the fear of spilled shampoo or dirty boots ruining clean clothes.
3. Laundry: Put a large garbage bag into each clothes bag to pop dirty clothes in to. Keeping dirty clothes with clean ones (but separated) means that should an emergency arise (or you simply realise you didn’t pack enough clothes), worn clothes are easily found which can be reused in a pinch.
4. Sturdy plastic boxes of all sizes are your friend: Take note of the size and shape of the spaces in your 4WD, under the seat, in the drawers, down the side of the fridge. Head to Ikea/Bunnings and find boxes (preferably with snap on lids) that will fit. Having things put into boxes protects the items and makes them easier to locate.
5. Toy boxes: On the subject of boxes, kids like to take toys camping. Stuffed toys, colouring books, pencils/textas, books. Once you’ve found your plastic boxes, designate one to each child (the same size if possible, don’t want any arguments!). Let them know that they can take whatever they like with them, so long as it fits into one of these boxes. If you can, try to have these in a place that is accessible while on the road, under their seat’s is ideal, or even in the foot well if the box is strong enough to be trodden on, and their legs are short enough to allow it.
6. Pack a back pack/small bag and put it in last for easy access: Pop things in here like a spare set of clothes, jumpers/trackies for the kids, swimming gear, hats, towels and sunscreen. What if the trip takes longer than expected and you’re setting up in the dark? First bag out is the warmer clothes, bang them on the kids and get to work. What if an awesome swimming spot comes up? Don’t be stuck pulling out every item in the back just to reach your daughter’s bag which you cleverly stuffed into the last empty spot right in the front right hand corner…
7. Keep head torches within easy reach: Again, if your trip takes longer than expected (which with the dozen toilet stops and cries of starvation invariably always happens), scrambling to find your head torches that you popped into that perfect little cranny in the boot isn’t ideal.
8. Speaking of food: It’s always the way, 5 minutes after leaving home the kids are staaaaaarrrrving. Be sure to pack a snack box (equal portions for each child of course), things that aren’t going to spill/drip/melt. Sandwiches, chips, nuts, fruit, that sort of thing. Pop in a rubbish bag, large snap lock bags are ideal. Oh, and keep the emergency lolly/chocolate stash somewhere within easy reach too…just not within easy reach of hubby, else you risk there being nothing left when the time calls for reinforcements…
These are just a few things that can make the gargantuan task of fitting in all those “just in cases” a little easier. Think smart, every piece of real estate in your fourbie can be used, but keep in mind ease of access. 
See ya Offroad,
NB. About that tyre falling off, it wasn’t our trailer, we were towing it for a mate whose fourbie wasn’t really up for the job of towing all that gear, so a word of warning, if you’re doing a mate a solid and dragging their bunky old trailer/caravan/boat/whatever along the highway, make sure to ask when the wheel bearings were last serviced.


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