By Myscha Theriault
(MCT)—Long-term road trips can require more gear and supplies than short-term excursions, particularly if you are traveling with a family, intend to coordinate your own meal preparations, or wish to pack specialty items for activities like kayaking and mountain biking. Factor in additional variables such as multiple medications for each family member, climate changes and the need for professional gear, and things can begin to get complicated.
These issues made their way onto my travel radar recently, as my husband and I have struggled to develop storage solutions for a year-long road trip we’ve embarked on with our dog. While we’re still working out the kinks and will likely incorporate additional changes and equipment from the road, we have implemented a number of solutions that are working effectively.
Covers: Many seat covers come with built-in storage in the form of pockets covering the back portion of the seat itself. We got ours at Cabela’s for roughly $25 a pop and put them on each of the two front chairs in our Jeep. The back pockets serve as easy-to-grab storage for things like highway atlases, insect repellant, lint rollers and cleaning wipes.
We are still in search of accessories and add-ons that will provide additional storage along the sides of each seat for other items we need to reach on a daily basis. Our search for visor covers which suit our needs has proved challenging as well. Most options we’ve seen thus far are designed to hold music discs, which doesn’t fit our day-to-day use patterns of receipt containment, brochure organization and accessibility for backup pens and pencils.
Containers: Loose items such as groceries, tent poles and cooking utensils can cause chaos if left untamed. It’s also a little more challenging to maintain the same structured storage in a fast-paced travel environment that we do at home in a more controlled situation. While we will attempt to be as consistent as possible with our organizational procedures, we’re hopeful the incorporation of transparent containers will come to our rescue by providing visibility when weather and scheduling concerns get in the way of precision packing.
One thrifty solution we’re trying is the use of the clear kitchen storage tubs available in the sandwich bag aisle of the grocery store. We purchased a small collection of the largest ones to store things like barbecue skewers, salad tongs and our chef’s knife. Additionally, a narrow plastic tower of drawers will allow us to access things like oatmeal packets, flax seeds, and herbal tea bags from one of the back side doors. Because we’ll be supplementing our camping excursions with hotel and cabin stays, it’s important to be able to scoop up basic supplies without having to unpack all of our camping food at every stop.
Carriers: The Yamaha rooftop car carrier we purchased years ago from a classified ad is being pressed into service once again. Our organizational plan involves using it for the camping gear we won’t need to access every day. This includes things like our tent, sleeping bags, hiking mats and an air mattress.
Because we didn’t want to embrace towing a travel trailer or small camper right away, we opted for a hitch-mounted cargo box. Ours happens to be produced by Thule, and adds 13 cubic feet to our capacity. At $431, it offered an affordable alternative. While the chosen locations for things like medical supplies, tech gear and pantry items are still evolving, we know this will hold 150 pounds of whatever we feel we will need quick access to from outside the vehicle.
Connections: Securing our storage solutions to the vehicle has been a huge part of the equation. Roof bars, carabiners and zip ties have been our constant companions. We also added a towing hitch, which was necessary to carry our exterior cargo box. By throwing down $280, we were able to get a sturdier model which will enable us to immediately upgrade to a towable unit later if we feel we need the space. For those who prefer to rent a variety of towable options to suit travel situations as they arise, a triple-ball trailer hitch will provide the flexibility you need. Harbor Freight has them available for roughly $30.
Myscha Theriault is a best-selling author and avid traveler She is currently traveling through North America with her husband and Labrador retriever. Readers can follow their adventures on trekhound.com and on Twitter at @MyschaTheriault.
©2014 Myscha Theriault
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