Assuming you’ve been able to keep ahead of the Christmas shopping rush, choose your destination and get the four-wheel-drive serviced before hitting the black top, all that’s left to do for your summer holiday break is pack.

The key to effective unpacking is efficient packing. Piling everything in and sticking odd bits and pieces into every space or gap only works until you leave the driveway.

The first set of corrugations will not only rearrange your cargo but probably leave you with a few surprises on arrival at the camp site, such as a shiraz-covered T-shirt or egg-covered jeans. Once your fellow campers have stopped smiling at your new designer wardrobe, you can put on a floor show emptying the entire contents of your vehicle on to the dirt in search of that elusive tent peg hammer, the very same one you packed first to fill that odd-shaped gap.

Without consideration for weight distribution your vehicle will probably handle like a double-decker bus, leaning alarmingly into bends rather than going round them. Consider your vehicle as having three possible levels, base, middle and roof. The heaviest items such as water, recovery equipment and tools should be as low as possible and centred between front and rear wheels, (where possible). Pack moderately heavy items including food, cooking utensils, cutlery and camping equipment in the middle with only light gear such as swag, clothes and bedding on the roof.

Catering for enough food and drinks for the duration is a logistical challenge but ensuring against spills, leaks or breakage over those rough tracks is something else. Use sturdy, secure stackable transparent boxes of various sizes inside existing drawers or storage boxes rather than odd-shaped original packaging for a more efficient use of space.

Packing loose items together helps reduce movement. Placing tea towels around glass jars or separating bottles with cardboard sleeves or neoprene rubber such as MSA bottle covers will further minimise the chance of breakage.

Clip-lock lid food boxes are great for keeping out moisture; some have multiple compartments ideal for storing pasta, rice, sugar or flour. They protect the contents from damage and everything else from being coated — emptying a plastic storage container is easier than cleaning the vehicle interior. Plus you can see the contents, making them easier to locate.

Label identical boxes to identify contents, put similar items together to avoid searching for things when needed and plan stacking order so less frequently used items are on the bottom. Resealable plastic bags hold anything from leftovers to cooking spices, and they can be rolled up or folded over for additional packing between items.

With everything in its place, make sure it’s secure. Using proper tie-down straps to secure the load is essential. Installing a cargo barrier between the rear of a wagon and its occupants could make the difference between life and death in a sudden impact as objects are catapulted forward with enough inertia to make them lethal projectiles.

And don’t forget to pack your toothbrush!


© The West Australian

More Motoring news and information: