Road Trip to College: “Oh, the Things You’ll Pack!” – Mom in Music City
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Road Trip to College: “Oh, the Things You’ll Pack!”

  • August 24, 2015
  • By Sabine
Road Trip to College: “Oh, the Things You’ll Pack!”

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #1stImpressionsCount #CollectiveBias

It’s that time of year again – students are heading off to college across the country. This can be a stressful time for both parents and students. With two kids in college, I have done a total of six move-ins, and each time, the transition gets a bit easier.

With the exception of my daughter’s first college move-in, we have always used my Prius to transport all their necessary belongings. You are probably thinking  how the heck do you fit everything into such a small car? Surprisingly,  you can squeeze a ton of stuff into a Prius.  And over the years, we have learned how to pack the car efficiently.

I recently moved my oldest daughter to Chicago where she is attending law school. Let me tell you, the girl had a lot of stuff but we were able to fit in every single item, including furniture (and glow sticks, of course) for her apartment, which she is sharing with two other girls. Her sister, a college sophomore, also had a smooth move-in into her first college apartment at Knoxville, TN.


I am not going to lie, college move in day will be stressful, no matter what. But here are some tips I have learned along the way which will make move in a lot easier:

  • Maximize the number of passengers who must fit in a single car making the trip. If  younger siblings , grandma and cousin want to come along, take a second vehicle.
  • Fold down every seat you can, or remove some seats (when applicable), as it’ll be easier to pack the car with more flat surfaces.
  • Avoid large boxes and original packing, as these are inflexible and won’t allow you to fully utilize your vehicle’s available space.
  • Use garbage bags for clothes and wrap breakables in towels or bedding.
  • Try to balance the car. Don’t put too much heavy stuff on the left or right, or in the trunk.
  • Load heavy items first such as the fridge or microwave.
  • Fill the microwave and fridge with clothes or towels. No sense in taking it empty.
  • Put small items like desk supplies in your wastebasket.
  • Leave clothes on hangers and put them in garbage bags with a hole cut in the top. They’ll be easy to place in the car, and to hang up in the dorm-room closet.
  • Use under bed storage boxes (with wheels and hinged lids) instead of cardboard boxes.
  • Small compartments in the doors, console, under the seats and the trunk can be filled with necessities that you may need to find quickly, such as your laptop and cell phone charger.

There is a lot of useable space in your car and if you use it wisely you might be surprised how much you can fit in the nooks and crannies of a vehicle.In addition to packing the car efficiently, I check my oil levels and tire pressure; I fill up the gas tank and clean the Prius before each college move in. These steps ensure that my vehicle will be there for us for many more move-ins and that my daughters won’t be embarrassed when we pull up to the main dorm/apartment entrance. After all, first impressions count.Besides, being in a clean car makes the long drive to college so much more enjoyable. When we drove from Nashville to Chicago we emptied out random trash every time we stopped for gas.

It doesn’t take long to wipe down the dash, windows, etc. and makes it look that much better. The devil truly is in the details.To me, a car is another room I use. It just happens to roll.  I don’t like a messy and cluttered house. So, if I clean my house regularly, why not my car?

Here’s how you can get your car looking nice and clean for college move in day:


Remove everything from the car that doesn’t belong in there.

Shake out your floor mats.

Vacuum everywhere.

Clean windows.

Protect your vehicle’s dash, seats, door panels and plastic trim. Before I took my youngest daughter to college, I used Armor All® Outlast Protectant. This product provides protection against sunlight and heat while also helping to restore and maintain the natural look and feel of your vehicle’s interior trim and plastic. My car really needed this. Nashville’s summer and winter have been brutal on cars. Armor All® Outlast Protectant really made a difference, as you can see.


Wash your car. It’s best to remove bird poop and tree sap immediately before it dries.

Restore your car’s plastic. Because my car is parked outside, my plastic and rubber surfaces become dull and discolored from weather and the sun’s UV rays. I tried Armor All Outlast Trim & Plastic Restorer which helps prevent fading, discoloration and oxidation. Move in days were crazy busy and my daughters were glad we showed up in a clean and shiny car. Although the Prius is a 2005 model and I’ve transported three kids, two dogs, a ton of furniture, etc. for years, I think it’s still looking pretty darn good. Taking good care of your car really pays off.

If you want your car to look clean and shiny for college move in day ( so you don’t embarrass your teens), try these and other Armor All products for yourself.

By Sabine, August 24, 2015
  • 4
  • melodys100
    August 24, 2015

    I still can’t believe we managed to fit all my stuff in there. That was a stroke of luck more than anything!

  • Emily
    August 28, 2015

    I cannot believe how much you were able to pack into your Prius! From the outside, they look so small! The Armor All Trim and Plastic Restorer did a great job bringing the shine back to your trim, too! #client

    • sabines
      August 28, 2015

      Yes, the Prius holds a ton of stuff. Most people don’t know this. Thank you for stopping by!

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Mom in Music City is a lifestyle blog, written by Sabine Schmidt, celebrating a simple and practical approach to home improvement, decor, beauty, food, parenting, and much more.

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