Fill your boots with Karl Puschmann's guide to problem free car packing
Because I am not a man of boasts or pride I rarely talk about the fact that I am the current World Champion of Packing a Car. I couldn't possibly say I am the Greatest of all Time but others probably should.
When embarking on a family road trip I pack for two adults and two small children. There's the usual array of necessary baggage that a family holiday requires but there's also a truckload of assorted crap that we always lug with us. This is a problem because we don't have a truck. We have a mid-aughts Nissan Murano.
Another thing we don't have is proper luggage. We have two mismatched suitcases - one medium-sized for my partner, the other hand luggage-sized for kids stuff - an assortment of cylindrical sports bags and an unholy amount of reusable shopping bags and totes with their straps tied up in a simplistic knot that makes them look like they are sporting the dreaded manbun.
My 6-year-old daughter also has her own dinky suitcase and my 3-year-old son has shared real estate in the sports bag I have stuffed with my clothes, most of which I know I won't wear but have packed anyway, "to be safe".
I have no idea what is in the other bags.
Mine is not to reason why. Mine is but to get the car packed and loaded so we can hit the road. But before packing we must assemble the contents to be packed so we can see what we are dealing with.
Along with the various bags listed above there'll also be a chunky, rectangular travel cot, a full-sized Bugaboo pram with the extra wheel-seat attachment. There'll also be a stroller, a bright red chilly bin, two boogie boards, two scooters, two beach chairs and a comically oversized beach tent I bought under the ill-informed assumption that it was regular-sized.
Google tells me that my model Nissan Murano has 32.1 cubic feet of cargo space. I have no idea if that's a lot or not. It never looks like enough.
Lesser men would groan in dismay before fleeing to their significant other to question the validity of packing both the pram and the stroller or any of the other seemingly obvious unnecessary items: but this can only be classed as a fool's errand.
If you've ever tried to leave for a holiday with small children you'll understand the pressure cooker environment of those pre-departure hours. You're running around, trying to pack everything and not forget anything - chargers, toothbrushes, teddy bears, beach towels, kids books, adult books etc, etc - while your children act in a profoundly unhelpful and usually fairly annoying manner.
They can not be blamed, they are but kids. Your partner can not be blamed, she is but trying to get your sorry asses out the door. But you will be blamed if you query any of the redundant items sitting on the drive beside the car so best to just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.
As the current World Champion of Car Packing I approach the task with a ballerina's grace, the brute force calculations of a Chess Grand Master, the audacious swagger of early-era Mick Jagger and the tranquil mind of a very relaxed Buddhist monk.
First one bag, then another, augmented occasionally by the odd shuffle or shake to make things fit where science, physics and my own lying eyes tell me they should not. The irregular shapes and sizes of our other items are stacked and slotted and packed and piled in spaces they simply can't fit. Our constellation of smaller bags are bustled into any misshapen crooks and crannies that may appear.
Every item is placed with a purpose, for they must live harmoniously together and not budge lest they fly through the car like a projectile missile if sudden braking is called for in an emergency situation. All of this while operating under a self-imposed yet strict height restriction that never allows the towering skyline of baggage to threaten maximum rear window visibility.
It is a delicate dance, an intriguing puzzle, a pain in the ass. But when my physics-defying artistry is complete I'll pull the boot gently down, ending the ordeal with the thunky-click of a job well done.
I love that sound. Forget a child's laugh or a romantic whisper, that pleasing thunky-click is the greatest sound you'll ever hear.
A few days later I'll need to repeat the impossible, paint another masterpiece, write another classic. Defend the title. To make sure no child's bag or pram or travel cot or scooter or boogie board is left behind.
Packing a car, I've realised, is a perfect metaphor for life; you thanklessly muddle through the impossible in a desperate attempt to make everything fit.