How to pack the car for a European road trip

How to pack the car for a European road trip
Every year approximately 4.2m holiday-makers choose to travel to Europe by car, and it’s easy to see why.

Driving holidays are a great way to take control of your holiday, offering both freedom and flexibility.

Often the most stressful part of preparing for your holiday, however, is packing your car.

Did you know that packing the car is most likely to be completed by men (37%) with women 10% less likely to do so, and only 23% of families complete the task together?

To start the holiday without a glitch, RAC European Breakdown Cover has asked RAC patrol Andy Wistance to make a ‘packing a car guide’ to ensure all your essentials are packed safely and securely ensuring an even weight distribution. You can read our guide below or simplyw atch the short video at the bottom of the page.

MORE TRAVEL: Where do I need an International Driving Permit and how do I get one?

We have also made a downloadable travel abroad-checklist of all the essential items you may need when driving in Europe - so you can tick as you go and guarantee you don't leave anything behind.

European breakdown cover

Wherever you end up on holiday, we’ve got you covered

Best way to pack the boot

For a safe and easy drive, it is important to maintain an even weight distribution throughout the vehicle.

  • Place the heavier items towards the centre of the vehicle and the larger items towards the back.
  • Do not pack items above the headrest level.
    • Items above the head restrict rear visibility and under braking can fly forward and hit the passengers.

Best way to pack the roof box

Once you have placed the heavier items in the car, lighter items can be placed in the roof box.

  • Items such as duvets, blankets and sleeping bags should be placed in the box and locked securely.
  • When you have finished using the roof box, always remove it from the vehicle as it can add to fuel consumption.

READ MORE: Top ten tips for driving through France

Adjusting the tyres after the car has been loaded

Due to the additional weight, in most cases you’ll then need to adjust your car’s tyre pressures according to the manufacturer’s specifications. The easiest way to do this is with a mobile tyre inflation device.

  • Plug the device into the car’s power source, set the tyre pressure, press ‘go’ and your tyres will be adjusted to the correct specification.
  • A bottle of tyre glue can also prove to be handy just in case you get caught with a puncture and do not have a spare tyre.

Learn rules of the road for the country you’re visiting

For many holiday makers, the focus is on their destination and the route they are going to take. However, many drivers forget to check the rules of the road of the country they are visiting. In fact, 43% of drivers spend less than two hours researching driving regulations, while 14% spend just half an hour doing the necessary research and a further 6% admit to committing no time at all to it.

MORE ADVICE: The RAC's guide to towing and packing a caravan

It is important to remember that different European countries have different driving laws and requirements. From speed limits and alcohol levels to road signs, it is essential you familiarise yourself with them before you set off on your journey.

Find further information here on RAC European Breakdown Cover.

UPDATE: you may need a Crit'air sticker for driving in France