How to Move in a Compact Car -
Home > Moving Guides > During Your Move > Loading and Unloading > How to Move in a Compact Car

How to Move in a Compact Car

  4.5/5 based on 48 visitor(s)
views  15,823 Views
Hiring full service movers or renting a truck can be expensive, and depending on the logistics of your relocation, it can be rather impractical. Scaling down your belongings and moving in a compact car may prove to be a more viable option for you - especially if you're on a tight budget.

Read on for tips on how to maximize space in your tiny car while packing for your upcoming move!

Downsize your belongings

Unless you have a magical Mary Poppins-style bag with an infinite amount of space (or inflatable furniture), you're going to have to do a fair amount of tossing.
  • Go through your clothing. Are you moving to a warmer climate? Maybe you don't need heavy jackets or 20 different sweaters. Getting rid of unnecessary seasonal clothing makes a big difference when it comes to packing. Try not to be too sentimental about some of your duds. If something doesn't fit, if the style is dated, if it's worn out - get rid of it!
  • Sell furniture early. Nobody is telling you to eat off of a cardboard box for a month, but if you wait until the last minute to list your furniture, you may end up selling it for much less than you anticipated - or have to give it away. Start listing some furniture items you could do without earlier - like coffee tables, end tables, lamps, extra chairs or office desks. You can list your essential items like your bed and couch a week or two before the move, and simply schedule the pick-up the day of or before your move. This way, you won't end up sleeping on the floor and have a stiff back on the day you begin your drive. If you have a few pieces of furniture you know you cannot part with, you can look into hiring small movers. You can compare quotes on such services here at just by filling out our simple quote form.
  • Get rid of knickknacks. Miscellaneous items like vases, picture frames, vacation souvenirs, etc. can take up way too much precious real estate in the back seat of your car. Usually, these items are also oddly shaped and therefore cannot be packed in a space-efficient manner. If you have one or two items you really want to keep, wrap them up in a t-shirt to pack tightly with your clothing.
  • No hangers. You may or may not have a lot of dry clean-only clothing, or items that you generally hang in the closet. For the time being, you will need to sacrifice the hangers for more space while traveling. Your clothes may get a bit wrinkled, but you can pack more items than you would with a bunch of bulky hangers getting tangled together in your trunk.

Pack tightly

Your best bet is to pack clothing and other items that don't maintain a particular shape into soft luggage or even garbage bags. Try to avoid hard luggage or suitcases - these bags can be unyielding when every inch matters. You don't want to sacrifice even more of your belongings because you can't get your trunk to shut on the account of a bulky suitcase.

Roll each article of clothing tightly, instead of folding, and tuck into the corners of your duffle bag first. You can use this method if you are packing in garbage bags as well, just be sure to squeeze out as much air as you can before tying the bag shut.

If you're traveling with a TV, you can use bedding as a makeshift moving blanket. Instead of folding up the blanket and throwing it in the back, you can drape it over the TV to protect it and save space.

Other space saving options:

  • Overhead carriers: These cargo storage units are great for freeing up space in your car's interior, especially if you aren't traveling alone during your move.
  • Vacuum storage bags: You can fit an entire suitcase of clothing into one of these. Though the vacuum and extra bags may be a small investment, it is definitely one to consider if you plan on transporting a large amount of clothing in limited space.
  • Trailer hitch and trailer: You could also try attaching a trailer to your car to pack your larger items, but make sure you do your research to see if your car is large enough and/or equipped for hauling the weight.

Strategize your packing plan

When you have limited space in your car for moving, placement is everything. After you've gone through all of your belongings and have narrowed down what you will take with you, take a careful look at the inside of your car to begin strategizing your packing plan. This plan will vary based on the size of your car and the amount of things you're trying to pack. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Most flat screen TVs cannot be laid flat, so it's best to place your TV on the floor boards of the backseat and pack other softer items, like bags of clothing or blankets, around it.
  • If you'll be traveling for a considerable amount of time (and alone), make sure you have your essentials in the front passenger seat. If you will be staying in hotels, this will save time from digging through your inventory, and will ensure you do not draw attention to the fact that you have your whole life packed into your car. The last thing you want is a break-in while you're trying to move.
  • You may need to pack, unpack and repack your trunk a few times to figure out the best way of arranging all of your bags.
  • Pack any valuable items underneath larger duffle bags or garbage bags full of clothes. This will provide a softer padding for your precious cargo, and garbage bags generally don't look as appealing to a potential thief.
  • The more you jam into your car, the more gas you will consume on your trip - be aware of this when you budget. You will also want to be sure your oil is changed, your tires have good tread, and that your windshield wiper blades are replaced. The weight in your car can affect all of these things, and you certainly want your vehicle in top shape when battling any inclement weather.
  • Though you will be packing your car until it's almost bursting at the seams, make sure you have a clear view from your rear and side mirrors. No material item is worth compromising your safety on the road.

Photo by: Nenetus (

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on September 5, 2013

Rate this guide How to Move in a Compact Car