Let’s Go Places! The Capsule Road Trip Series is Coming – But First, How To Pack The Car PROPERLY for Your Big Adventure (We’re Talking Petrol Savings, People!)

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Don’t think you need to read a story about how to pack your car for your next roadie? THINK AGAIN! 

Capsule x Toyota 

Guys summer is COMING (honestly) and NOW is the time to get to planning all of those epic roadies you’ll want to take next holidays. But before you jump in the car to go cruising all around the motu, here’s our handy dandy little list of things to really elevate your road trip experience, whether you’re like Alice and have to fit in kids and all of their accompanying stuff (no one tells you how much stuff there’s going to be with children!) or if you’re like Kelly who’s focussed on all the little things to be a true passenger princess. 

So, we loaded up our Yaris Cross GR Sport (the DREAM car) with all we needed to make a good trip great – read on for our tips (both practical and, er, not-so-practical). 

Kelly: 

There’s nothing that I love more than grabbing my partner (respectfully?!), jumping in the car and heading off on an epic roadie – sometimes without even knowing where we’ll end up. 

Of course you’ll know instantly from that sentence that I don’t have kids and have the freedom to go wherever, (almost) whenever we want to, and I intend to take FULL advantage of this until the day that my 90s-2000s RnB playlist is replaced by The Wheels on the Bus. 

So, my packing guide is all about comfort and packing in as much stuff for all of our activities, while keeping the car as light as possible (again, more $$ in the wallet and less in the petrol tank!) 

I’m described constantly by my partner as ‘rip, s**t and bust’ and look he’s not wrong – if it’s up to me I’m just chucking things into the back of the car and hoping for the best, much to his chagrin. I also might be guilty of focussing less on the practical stuff and more on the fluff (I will always have snacks, USB cords and the perfect air freshener but I’ll also be playing my own version of petrol roulette for days before I can be bothered pulling into a petrol station – thank GOD for hybrids, amirite!) 

So here’s my list of non-negotiables I always pack in the car for the perfect road trip: 

Reusable coffee cups and drink bottles – and look as much as we love to take the mickey out of our basic millennial pals with their Frank Greens, I will admit their keep cup is the absolute best you can buy, trust me! 

USB charger – I keep one in the car now because I hate to be under 50%. The Yaris Cross GR Sport that we’re testing out for this story has both normal USB AND USB-C which means your lightning cables will work. God it’s the little things, right!? 

Rubbish bin – this has been a game changer. I may or may not have a little issue with a certain fast food chain’s nuggets – they are life – so my car always has random paper, containers and straw wrappers kind of just floating around (not to mention rogue chips that fall down the gap in the seat. Come on, I’m not the only one!). I bought one online that can fold down, and has flaps on the top that keep everything inside, even if you decide to Fast and Furious a corner. 

The perfect playlist – if you are a classic millennial, then I’ll just direct you to ‘ROAD TRIP HIP HOP/RNB on Spotify. Thank me by belting out Right Thurr as you zip past the Ohakune Carrot. 

Alice: 

Everyone seemed to want to tell me how my travelling days would be well in the past once I had kids – but lawdy, I wish I hadn’t listened to a word of that fear mongering. 

Yes, a road trip looks quite a lot different now (and often requires some military precision planning and timing), but if anything, I think we’ve actually hit the road more with little ones in tow than ever before. And they definitely make up my favourite roadie memories now.

Whether it’s been loading up the car to chase down a hint of summery weather somewhere, throwing a snowball for the first time, reeling in their first catch or tracking down an animal in an obscure part of the country because it’s currently their fave, I’ve loved getting to see NZ through a whole new lens: that unique wonder in which kids see the world around us. 

But, that doesn’t mean our roadies have been without tears (the kids OR mine). Our Kiwi ‘She’ll be right’ attitude certainly doesn’t apply to travelling with kids. You can’t leave it up to chance. You can’t just hope for the best – you have to plan for the best.

Work out what you’re going to take, well before you even start packing and always call ahead to find out what’s available where you’re going. Many hotels and holiday homes come fully kitted with cots, high chairs, blackout curtains and toys, saving you plenty of car space. Alternatively, it’s really easy (in most spots!) to hire everything from a port-a-cot to a pram for cheap as chips prices. Having books and toys from home is ideal for familiarity and consistency, but take into consideration how much time you’ll be out doing things, and how many you really need to lug around!

Here are my non-negotiables for travelling with littlies.

Having a plan – I used to (sans kids) be a fan of getting in the car and going, ‘let’s just see what happens!’ But HECK YOU CANNOT DO THIS WITH KIDS. Sorry, but it’s just facts. You can deviate from the plan, but you need to have one. Have it nutted out what time you’re going (allowing plenty of time to pack: it will NOT take the 30 mins you think it will), how that fits in with naps, where you’ll stop, what you’ll eat etc. Road trips are endurance events and you don’t want to be making decisions when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired and over it. Plan ahead!

Lots of stops – It’s not a race against the clock to get to your destination. You’ll all be happier and still married if you stop reasonably often for bathroom breaks, stretch-your-legs stops and meal/snack times. See a good playground? Make sure you stop and run off some of that energy!

A seat-back organiser – These little beauties could be your new best friend. They’re full of compartments for stashing tissues, wet wipes, drink bottles, snacks, activity books, toys, and even one for an iPad (we’re pretty stingy with screen time in the car, because it does make them… crazy? But sometimes you just need that goddam screen!). These keep everything handy, within a child’s arm grasp so you don’t have to constantly keep contorting your back to retrieve things every 10 mins and pass them back.

A white noise machine – Why is it that toddlers can fall asleep on the drive to the dairy nowhere near their nap time, yet, when you put them in their same cosy seat for a four-hour drive juuust before nap time, they’ll stay awake the whole time? Recreating some of the things from home can help – especially the familiar sound of their white noise (or lullaby!) machine.Headphones. A pair of noise-cancelling headphones are great for older kids, so they can watch that iPad show, listen to Katy Perry 12,098 times in a row and can keep it all to themselves. Heaven.

Five things to consider when packing a car (no matter what your situation) 

  1. Pack the heavy stuff at the bottom of the boot for stability, and to optimise weight distribution (hello, petrol savings!). 
  2. Try not to put things in the passenger footwell – we had NO idea, but under emergency braking even at 50km/ph, loose stuff can have force of up to 50 times its weight. Same thing goes for having things loose in the back seat of the car. Don’t put anything that’s not secure into or near your child’s car seat or restraint.
  3. Don’t pack too high – you still need to see out of the back window! 
  4. Think about what you need for an emergency because trust us, they happen! We’re talking first aid kit, spare tyre, tyre jack and extra water. 
  5. Only take what you absolutely need – less weight, less petrol! 
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