How to Pack Your Compact Car for a Move

Jon Fesmire | December 4, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

So, it’s time to move, perhaps out of your college dorm or perhaps from one home to another. You don’t have a ton of belongings to get from one place to another, so it shouldn’t be too tough. But wait. You also don’t have a van or truck. You have a compact car that’s great for getting around in, but will it be big enough for your move?

While you may need to rent a moving truck or portable storage unit from your storage facility for your big items, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pack everything else into your compact car if you take the right steps.

Say Goodbye to Things You Don’t Need

Let’s define “need” broadly here, because this article isn’t about throwing out half of your belongings. However, the longer you live in one place, the more things you’ll buy that you’ll end up no longer needing after a while. This could include books you read that you don’t really want to keep in your collection, clothes that you wore for a bit but are no longer fond of, and so on. Why pack things in your compact car that you don’t really want anymore?

You may want to go through your belongings first and sort out those things you don’t need, or you may want to do that while packing. Either way works fine. Just give yourself some time to shuffle them off to where they’ll be appreciated. Good options include selling them, perhaps on Ebay or OfferUp, or giving them to thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. When you give them away, get a receipt, as you can list charitable donations on your taxes.

Use the Right Types of Containers

You’re going to want to pack your items tightly. So, what works to do that? What sort of containers will allow you to put the most in the least amount of space?

  • Vacuum Storage Bags: Cloth items take up a lot of space. The funny thing is, most of that space is air between layers of fabric. So, for clothing and bedding, vacuum storage bags are amazing. You pack in your cloth items and then vacuum or roll out the excess air.

  • Book Boxes: For books, use boxes made for them, and pack your books in tightly. Depending on how many you have, these could take up a lot of room, but don’t worry. In the car, you can pack other items around them.

  • Small Boxes: What sort of small items do you have? Pack these in small boxes that will fit between boxes and vacuum bags in the car.

  • Small Bags: Like small boxes, small bags work great for a variety of things, and can be stuffed into the spaces between the main bags and boxes.

  • Overhead Carriers: You might be surprised how affordable overhead carriers can be. Choose one that’s strong, will stay securely on top of your car, and can protect what you pack inside from the weather.

Pack Smart

When you start putting your packed items into the car, keep in mind what’s strong and what’s fragile. For example, if you have a flat screen television, you probably don’t want to put your book boxes on top of it. Better to put the book boxes in first as a sort of foundation, then put the TV flat on top of them, and some soft clothing items on top of that.

We mentioned packing smaller items in between or to the sides of the bigger boxes to fill up space. This will also help to prevent larger boxes from shifting. You’ll find more space in your car as well. For example, you might put your bottled water, soda, and snacks for the trip underneath a seat. The wheel wells can hold various bags and possibly a backpack or two.

Multiple Trips

This all assumes you plan to make one trip, but can’t or don’t need to rent a truck. For example, if you’re moving to a town four to eight hours from where you currently live, you probably want to drive there and not drive back.

However, if you’re just moving across town, you can always make several trips. Still, following the tips here will allow you to make as few trips as possible.

Whatever the case, good luck on your move!

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