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8 Tips for Packing Your Car for a Camping Trip

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REI

Everyone has felt the frustration of struggling to pack a car—including Tad Summersett, Director of Product Strategy for Private Brands at outdoor retailer REI. “I’d find myself packing and unpacking multiple times before getting everything to fit. Or sweating and frustrated as I dug through layers of tightly packed gear just to find a flashlight to set up camp,” he tells mental_floss. So he decided to do something about it. Through “years of trial and error,” he developed a strategy he dubbed Precision Packing—and by following his tips below, you can quickly and painlessly load up a car, no matter what youre packing for. “Some of these are specific to camping, but most of these tips can be applied to all types of packing,” Summersett says. “Let my mistakes save you from the unnecessary frustration and waste of time.”  

1. DON’T JUST START THROWING THINGS IN THE TRUNK.

Summersett advises laying out all the items near your car—including things that were already in your car—and assessing what you have to fit in there. And make sure that everyone has put out everything they’re planning to bring before you start packing. “Adding just one forgotten item mid-way through the job can mean starting all over, Summersett says. Once you have everything laid out in front of you, assess what all needs to fit. Then start playing Tetris—so to speak—taking into account any of your individual needs throughout the trip and upon arrival. The more you do it, the more efficient your packing becomes.”

2. START WITH A GOOD FOUNDATION ...

As with many projects, the key to packing your car is to start with a strong foundation. “Place your heavier or larger items with flat sides—like a camping cooler or camp stove, or heavier boxes when moving—and build up,” Summerset says.

3. … AND LEAVE SOME HOLES AS YOU BUILD.

It sounds counterintuitive, but leave holes and gaps as you’re packing, which you can later fill with stuff you might need along the way—like camping chairs for a roadside picnic—which youll then be able to easily slide out.

4. POSITION BAGS JUST RIGHT.

You want to make sure everything is easily accessible so you can get into everything without having to fully unload. Summersett advises doing things like turning bags so you can get to the zippers and putting lighting on the top just in case you arrive at the campsite at night.

5. UNROLL THOSE SLEEPING PADS.

Not only will unrolling your sleeping pads give you more flexibility when you’re packing, but you can also put them to work: “They can be used to hold things together,” Summersett says.

6. STRATEGICALLY PLACE THE HEAVY STUFF.

Any heavy or hard objects should be placed “below the highest point of your rear seat to prevent items from banging into your head given a sharp turn or sudden stop,” Summersett says.

7. THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING, WHEN YOU’LL ARRIVE, AND WHAT YOU’LL NEED WHEN YOU GET THERE.

“If you’re arriving at dinnertime, have your camp kitchen readily accessible,” Summersett says. “If you’re arriving after dark, be sure to strategically place your lighting. Aside from those key items, stick to the foundation method with heavier items on the bottom and you’ll set yourself up for success.”

8. WHEN YOU’RE DONE, SNAP A PHOTO.

It will make it much easier to recreate what you’ve done for the trip home. Now hit the road!

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Montgomery County Planning Commission, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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This Gas Station Chain Serves Some of the Best Fried Chicken in the Country
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Montgomery County Planning Commission, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Sometimes finding a truly unforgettable meal means venturing outside your comfort zone. That’s the case at the Royal Farms gas station chain in the mid-Atlantic U.S., where restaurant-quality chicken, biscuits, and potato wedges are served at the same venue where drivers fill up their tanks.

As CBS Baltimore reports, Royal Farms was recently named a gas station restaurant worth a detour by Food & Wine magazine. With locations in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the chain is best known for its "fresh, never frozen" pressure-cooked chicken that’s hand-breaded in a signature spice blend. Another popular menu item is the "western fries"—potato wedges that have been breaded and fried.

As the manager of one Royal Farms in Maryland told CBS Baltimore, his counter sees around 2000 customers for lunch every day. The store is one of at least 178 that have opened in the U.S. since the chain was founded in 1959. More locations, including gas stations in New Jersey, are coming soon.

Royal Farms joins Indian cuisine, barbecue, and Spanish wine and tapas on Food & Wine's list of top gas station eats. For more unexpected places serving noteworthy grub, including a post office, a Honda dealership, and a laundromat, check out our list of the strangest restaurant spots in America.

[h/t CBS Baltimore]

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Adult-Sized Little Tikes-Inspired Car Spotted in UK
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eBay

Remember scooting around town in your red and yellow Little Tikes toy car? The fun plastic vehicle offered accessible mobility like a tricycle, but with the sophistication of a real car. It was never meant to be driven outside of the cul-de-sac, but what if there was a grown-up version that could be taken out on the road?

Mechanic John Bitmead and his brother Geoff of Attitude Autos created just that back in 2015, with an oversized spin on the classic kid wheels. It's road-legal and fully functional, looking somewhat similar to a Smart Car (but way cooler). The car was adapted from a Daewoo Matiz and took 16 weeks to make. Despite its small size, it can go up to 70 miles per hour.

This nostalgic creation eventually wound up on eBay for bids of at least £21,500 (roughly $33,000). It only had 5000 miles on it. Sadly, it seems the vehicle went unsold. But Bitmead doesn't appear to be finished with his unique customs. His Instagram page features a post-apocalyptic roadster with a bright pink Hello Kitty paint job. If you live in the UK, perhaps one day you'll see the two racing during your morning commute.

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