How to pack your car for college

July 29, 2014 12:00 AM

Summer is quickly coming to a close, which means that the new school year is approaching. Whether this is your child's first year going away to college, or it's time to move them into their first apartment, it can be tricky to make sure your car can fit everything he or she needs for his or her room. Before you start shoving boxes and furniture into your car, make sure you prep the vehicle to ensure that the trip back to school, whether it is only a few minutes or several hours, is a safe one. 

Before you start packing
The first step to prep for a drive with lots of cargo is servicing it with a car tune up. You should make sure everything is in working order, including tires, brakes, oil and other fluid levels before you start to pack. You wouldn't want to get halfway to your destination and have your car break down with an entire room's worth of furniture in the back. After the car has a clean bill of health, start by cleaning it out to remove items that your child doesn't need, making room for things that they do. It would also be a good idea to vacuum the interior of the car just in case there may be extra dirt that would get carried into your kid's new living space. If you can, fold down as many seats as possible to give yourself more flat room to work with. OnStar recommended taking as few passengers as possible to give yourself more room, so make sure to say some goodbyes before the trip. 

What to bring
On the school's website, a Champlain College student highlighted important things that you should - and shouldn't - bring with you if you are first starting school. The must-have list includes vitamins, important documents like IDs and a Social Security card, cords and wires for all of your electronics, and earplugs. Things that you don't necessarily need to bring, according to this student, include a printer, extra furniture, large collections of books or movies, and large stereos. Most colleges give students access to printers, which are bulky and take up space in your car. Likewise, it's more likely than not that you won't miss the whole "Harry Potter" series or "Friends" box set while you're away for a few months. 

Loading up 
Once you've decided what to pack, start with the heaviest, bulkiest items on the bottom. If you make sure that this cargo is stored first, it will be easier to fit in softer, malleable items on top like clothes on top. OnStar suggested ditching storage boxes unless they are being used for valuable items. They usually take up more space than the items would if placed in a smaller containers. On that note, use existing furniture to store smaller items like desk supplies - a clean trash bin can be great storage, for example. Use trash bags to store soft items like clothes and blankets so you can easily stuff them into place on the top of the boxes and furniture. Keeping some clothes on hangers - wrapped in a trash bag as well - will make them easier to remove and put right into a closet. 

Once you arrive
Of course, it will take a while to unpack an expertly stuffed vehicle, but you should still do a once-over after you've finished to make sure you haven't missed any small items underneath a seat or in an inconspicuous spot of your car. The last thing you would want is to leave something behind. Saying goodbye to your student will be the hardest part of your trip, but hopefully following some of these tips will help ease a bit of the pain of sending your child far away to embark on a new chapter of their lives. 

Back to news