The first step to packing your car for the great American family road trip is to have an actual family. It is best if they are yours but a neighbor who’s cool can help you out. But once you have that, you are ready to begin to load the car.
Now, all of us fathers go through years of rigorous training learning to pack cars. It’s why the video game Tetris was invented. Before that, most of us would go down to the docks and watch forklifts load shipping containers.
When you load your own car with the suitcases, toys, and basically everything from the nursery, start by dividing everything according to size. Big, small, and oblong shape that isn’t going to fit anywhere. Place them all in your driveway. Spend ten minutes or so just staring at it. This indicates that you are a professional and your children will be very impressed.
Next, divide your family by how annoying any particular person will be during the eight-hour car trip that you are packing for. In general, your wife will most likely sit in the front seat with you so she can help you tell the kids to be quiet. Your mother-in-law will need to be in the back with her nagging cough, and your eleven-year-old son will take care of her. If you are having difficulty deciding who will be more annoying between the teenager and the toddler, then flip a coin because it’s six of one and a half-dozen of the other.
You are ready to pack the back of the car now that seating arrangements have been settled. Start with the large box items like suitcases or the crib that someone insisted on bringing. What you want is a nice base to support the other useless stuff you are now forced to bring. Such as the photo album from 1983 because Aunt Becky would like to see it.
After that, step back and admire your handy work. Looking good.
Place pillows on the side of the suitcases to offer stability during those moment when you threaten to “turn this car around, so help me God.” Place blankets over the suitcases because hotels don’t have blankets, or so your wife has told you. Now have your children start bringing all the random brick-a-brac. This is where your forklift skills will really come in handy. Once the car is about full, congratulations, you are almost done.
Get your rope out and begin to tie whatever is left to the roof of the car like it’s 1954 and you’ve just bought a Christmas tree. Use your knowledge of sailor knots that you learned on the docks and do your best. Nod like you know what you are doing when your wife asks you if it will hold. Damn fine job.
It will feel as if you are done at this point, but you are not. Not by a long shot. Next, you control your anger as your mother-in-law finally brings out her own suitcase that she forgot to tell you about.
Unpack the car and do it again. The kids will now start handing you all the small things that they forgot to put into a suitcase or a box. Stuff these in any nook that you can to further stabilize your pile. By this point, the shocks on your car should be about to give out.
Once that is complete, it is time to really pack the things you will need for the all-American Road trip. Open the center console of your vehicle and make sure you are taken care of. As the driver, there are certain things you will need.
Kleenex, a bag of peanuts, and the knowledge of how to work the DVD player while driving should all be safely stored because for some reason three other adults in the car can’t figure out how to push play.
Keep your patience safely stored in the glove compartment and always bring extra because we all know you will run out. Finally, keep your broken sunglasses on your vehicle’s visor so that you can think about what it was like when you owned things that weren’t broken.
Well done! You are now ready for the road! You leave in three days, and this was just the practice run.