Hitch Platforms, Storage Bins, and Fun Bags: Packing Our Mini-Minivan

by Five String

Stuff.  It’s amazing how much we have accumulated as a family in five short years.  Paring down our possess has been a colossal undertaking over the past few months.  We are now down to one pile of what we are taking with us on the road.  But how to fit clothes, food, camping gear, and books for five people in our Maza 5?  Here’s what we’ve come up with to make sure we can still fit in our car after it is packed.

Hitch Platform
By far the best investment we’ve ever made for our car is a hitch platform.  Instead of adding more storage space by going up (the extra drag from roof carriers cuts down on fuel efficiency), we opted for installing a small hitch and platform on the back of our van. We use a bike lock through the platform and the hitch itself to act as a theft deterrent and to give extra piece of mind that the platform won’t go shooting down the highway, sparks flying. We were lucky to find two storage bins that fit perfectly side by side on the platform. We load up the bins and then use bungee cords to strap everything down.  Best of all, we can still open the back hatch!  For our Having Fun on Route 1 trip we bought an over-sized dry bag so we can store our tent and sleeping pads on the outside without them getting wet.  We still haven’t come up with any good ideas about how to lock down the storage bins when leaving the car.  Perhaps we can find some barbed wire bungee cords…

Storage Bins
Utilizing every available inch of space can be tricky.  Mostly, we have to make sure an avalanche of backpacks and camping equipment doesn’t bury Five of Hearts when we make a hard right turn.  Stacking large storage bins has worked well for us.  We’ve found combinations that let us stack to the ceiling in a way that nothing moves around.  Then, once we need to make camp we can easily access all of our food in one bin, our mobile kitchen in another.  The car ride is no longer quite as suspenseful for Five of Hearts, but it’s a trade off we’ve been more than willing to make.

Fun Bags
With the exception of High Five, our kids are not big fans of the car.  So we’ve packed the car with lots of distractions to take their minds off the fact they are strapped into a chair with no options for immediate escape.  In order to tame the sprawl of books, magazines, balls, and other toys, we’ve now given each child his or her own fun bag. Nothing fancy, just a canvas bag slung around the headrest of the seat in front of them.  Each kid picks the books, magazines, workbooks, etc. that they want in their bag.  The space is limited, so there is an end to how much they can take along. They’re happy, and we have more space for the other items we need for camping this summer.

What do you use to keep your stuff organized and manageable on the road?  Leave a comment to share your ideas!

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5 thoughts on “Hitch Platforms, Storage Bins, and Fun Bags: Packing Our Mini-Minivan

  1. Very helpful post! We use a hitch platform for camping, too. Very handy (though I’m always a little nervous about it in heavy traffic, and worried people won’t see it). Like the fun bag concept. I think we’ll have to try that out for our little ones, too. Our back seat is always a mess of toys and books. 🙂

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