Driving Home for Christmas: Car Packing Tips

Driving Home For Christmas Car Packing Tips Hero Shutterstock 1525248767

Thoughts already turning towards the festive season? Whether it’s the delicious food you crave or you get a real kick out of giving someone the perfect gift, it’s easy to see why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! We can’t get enough of it.

Once you’ve finally made it through those last few weeks of work, you’ll likely be looking forward to some quality time with your nearest and dearest. The only problem is your family live hundreds of miles away and you don’t really fancy spending hours on a packed train/plane. If you want the freedom of starting your journey when it suits you (and making as many coffee stops as you like…), there’s only one thing for it – a Christmas road trip!

Festive road trip driving tips

Considering renting a car for your festive drive home? You may be after some advice on how to make sure your trip runs as smoothly as possible. Luckily for you, Christmas has come early! Here’s our expert tips on how to make sure your journey goes off without a hitch:

Driving Home For Christmas Car Packing Tips Dreamstime L 106684043

Choose your vehicle wisely

Before you even begin your road trip, you’ll need to think carefully about what kind of vehicle you want to hire. Are you driving somewhere rural where a 4×4 might be needed? Or maybe you’re heading to a big city and want something compact that’ll be easy to park in tight spots?

Don’t leave your car rental until the last minute, either. People plan their big family Christmas getaways months in advance and you don’t want to miss out on the best deals and the best vehicles. Need a hand? Get in touch! We can help get you sorted, for the perfect, stress-free, festive season.

Plan your route in advance

You may have driven to your grandparents/in-laws/second cousin’s house a million times before. Nevertheless, Christmas is always a busier time than usual to be driving, plus there’s often the added dilemma of wet, windy or even snowy weather depending on where you’re going.

Want some peace of mind? Keen to avoid any hiccups which could end up ruining your Christmas? No one wants that, so always plan out your route the day before. You might want to avoid rural roads which could be treacherous or even steer clear of big motorways which are notorious for Christmas traffic jams. Double check for potential road works, too.

ALWAYS leave yourself extra time

Thought you were the only one driving home for Christmas this year? Think again! Millions of people hit the roads in the run up to the Big Day, whether that’s to do some last-minute shopping or to visit family. All those extra vehicles on the road means one thing: more traffic jams and terrible congestion. That’s definitely not the Christmas extravaganza you were hoping for.

To avoid getting into some serious road rage, add some extra time to your journey. That way, you’ll be able to take it slow and reduce the risk of arriving home later than expected. And if you end up miraculously avoiding any queues? Make a pitstop at a service station to try out one of this year’s decadent festive hot drinks…

Driving Home For Christmas Car Packing Tips Dreamstime L 184526968

Be prepared for a breakdown

Okay, we’re not saying you’re definitely going to breakdown. In fact, it’s very unlikely. BUT (and this comes with a capital B), it’s a good idea to be prepared. Especially at this time of year.

Cold, hungry and annoyed are just some of the things you’ll be feeling if you don’t breakdown-proof your trip! Make sure you take plenty of snacks and water for the journey just in case of an unplanned stop. Warm clothing or blankets are also a good idea, plus you might want a portable charger for your devices in case you end up stranded for hours and need to keep the kids entertained.

Driving elsewhere in Europe? Remember some countries require you to have a warning triangle and high-vis vest stowed in your car in case of emergencies.

Make an epic Christmas playlist

With several hours of driving to contend with and not a lot to keep you amused, why not get in the festive spirit with a few Christmas tunes?

You’ll find ready-made playlists on various music streaming services or you could even make your own featuring all your favourite festive tracks. We bet you’ll have both avid Christmas lovers and grinches singing along in no time.

Remember all the gifts!

Whether you’ve got a million aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws to buy for or it’s just you and your partner, don’t forget the presents!

Honestly, no one needs that stress when you realise you’ve forgotten Uncle Ted’s present two hours into your drive! Make a list and check it twice (just like Santa) before you begin your journey. Got a big family? It’ll be worth upgrading your car to something a little roomier so you’ve got plenty of space for gifts, clothes and, well, people.

Driving Home For Christmas Car Packing Tips Shutterstock 1525248767

Pack carefully and strategically

Whether you’re travelling with kids, friends or just your other half, never underestimate how much stuff you’ll need to pack into the car! To get it all in and not feel cramped for your 3+ hour journey, you’ll need to be quite clever with your packing. It’s time to remember those Tetris skills from way back. All those hours playing will finally come in handy!

It’s always a good idea to start with heavy things at the bottom of your boot. Fill any gaps with smaller, less fragile items before finally topping off the pile with lighter belongings and gifts you don’t want crushed.

Got a beloved pooch? If you don’t want them to miss out on all the festive fun, you’ll probably be planning to take them with you on your Christmas road trip. That might mean giving up your boot space and being a little savvier with where you put your stuff. Hiring a roof box is a great solution (not for the dog of course!) or you could upgrade to a slightly bigger car with plenty of back seat space for bags.


Now you’re clued up on driving home for Christmas, why not take a look at our inspiring winter road trip guides? Discover the most festive places in Europe to get you in the Christmas spirit or check out our round up of traditional Christmas cuisine from across the continent to help you perfect your festive getaway.


See more articles

More from Europcar