The sacred art of squeezing. How to pack your car for a holiday trip.

With the Easter weekend fast approaching and a lot of families already embarking on a relaxing break away from home, it’s about time I tackled the thorny subject of holiday etiquette.

Whilst some may be lucky enough to be jetting off to faraway lands, for now I’m going to concentrate on those who choose to holiday in the UK. I will deal with holidays abroad closer to the summer.

There are many intricate etiquette rules to holidaying in this country however there is one that is sacrosanct. To break it is up there with whistling at a funeral or putting pineapple on a pizza. Do not, under any circumstances, tell people that you are going on a ‘staycation’.

To do so incurs an immediate two year holiday ban and you will spend that time thinking about what you have done and considering where your life went wrong. Similar rules apply to anybody who thinks they are going ‘glamping’. No you aren’t, you are stopping in a garden shed in a field in Wales.

Stop making up words in a pathetic attempt to make your holiday sound more interesting, either stop at home or steal some photos off the internet to pretend that you went to Spain.

Packing the car

I’m going to make the assumption here that you are driving to your destination. I realise that other modes of transport are available and I may write about them one day, just not today.

The key thing to think about on a road trip is supplies. This is a logistical exercise that the Royal Engineers would struggle with but most families have perfected it over the years.

Have you got enough to last you a long weekend in somewhere that has shops, pubs and possibly even a retail park within five minute’s drive? The only way to answer this question is to see how full the car is. If the driver can see out of any part of any window apart from the windscreen, then you have forgotten something. If someone remarks “We’ve got everything but the kitchen sink,” you have forgotten the kitchen sink.


Once you have filled every spare millimetre of space in the car including ash trays, cup holders and your child’s pockets, it is time to try and fit in two more bags of groceries. It’s best to leave squashable goods such as bread and cakes until last as you should be able to squeeze them into the smallest of gaps.

If you are organised, you may want to write a list of what you need to take on your trip. It’s fairly simple. Everything that you own and everything that you can buy between now and going away should cover it.

When we went on family holidays in the late seventies, early eighties, me and my brothers would squeeze into the back of the Cortina along with all sorts of weird items including quilts and pillows. We considered this normal but thinking back I can’t imagine what sort of cave we were stopping in if we needed to take our own quilts. I’ve stopped in places where you need to provide your own towels. I guess there are budget places where you need to take your own sheets but to take quilts and pillows suggests that maybe we were planning on spending the week in a lay-by off the A1.

You may be concerned about cooking facilities at your destination so why not cook something before you go; a joint of beef perhaps, or maybe a nice pie? Not, as my best mate Steve once did, a pan of broth.

If anybody has watched It’s A Knockout, they can probably picture what it was like for me trying to drive a Toyota Yaris all the way to Kendal, with all the hills that involved, whilst trying not spill vegetable soup from a pan in the bloody footwell.

The next year his Dad suggested taking a tray of eggs. Bollocks to Top Gear and all their ‘crazy’ stunts; try going on holiday with my mate and his family.

If your car is packed to the rooftop and you still have bags of clothes, food, antique paintings etc to fit in, it is possibly worth considering sacrificing one of the children. Choose your least favourite (usually the middle one) and lock them in the garage for a fortnight. It will be character building.

Once you have fitted all of your worldly possessions into the car, try and banish all thoughts about not bothering and just stopping at home. Just remember, you are tying to get away from it all.

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