Packing items in the luggage compartment of an SUV is an artform that few people know about or appreciate. It takes creativity, logic, patience and strength… and perhaps a proclivity for geometry.

Some Helpful Tips

Knowing how to intelligently lift luggage and when an item is too heavy for you to lift alone are essential to consider as well. When lifting heavy objects, I bend my knees, make sure I keep my head up and back straight, take a deep breath and exhale as I lift. If a bag is really heavy I may hoist it up to the rear bumper and then slide it into the luggage compartment. If I need assistance from the passenger or someone else, I ask for help. It’s not worth a back injury, which can take a long time to heal and can sometimes even cause permanent health issues.

Every day, I load passengers’ luggage into the back of my 2019 Chevy Suburban. Instead of just piling it in, I always start by bringing out the luggage and doing a quick assessment, imagining how each piece of luggage will fit best in my SUV.

Too Much to Pack

About a year and a half ago, I drove to a pickup for a family moving from Randolph, NJ to Cairo, Egypt. When I got to the house, five people greeted me. No problem. Then they opened their garage door. There were 20 pieces of luggage.

Despite being pretty sure I knew the answer, I asked: “Do you need all this luggage, plus five passengers, loaded into my SUV?”

When the mother answered, “no,” I thought to myself, “Thank goodness!”

Then reality hit: “There are six people, not five, plus all the luggage!” she said with a sly smile. I politely told her my vehicle could only transport five other people plus about 10 pieces of luggage.

The solution: they hired a second car for the sixth passenger and the luggage.

I am a chauffeur for a limousine service, not a mover for Atlas Van Lines!

Say A Little Prayer

Many times, a family will bring out multiple bags and just stand back, expecting me to magically put them all neatly in the back of my vehicle. I’ll wait until all 10 bags are brought out to my vehicle before I start my Master Packing. I need to assess each bag, how it will fit, where it will fit, and the order it should be loaded on.

When I press the close button on the bottom of the back gate, I often say a little prayer. Usually my prayer is answered, as long as I packed the vehicle properly and allowed for enough room for the door to close.

The moral of this Street Story is: To be a Master Packer, you need to plan for the larger, heavier suitcases and boxes to be at the bottom. Softer bags and fragile items like laptop computers should be gently placed on top. Gently load and unload every item with the same care as if it were your own luggage.

Very important: If a box or suitcase is heavy, remember to lift with your legs, not your back. Keep your back straight and head up to reduce the chance of injury!

Finally, if a large piece of luggage looks and feels too heavy – or unwieldy – for you to lift on your own, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for a little help. Getting a back injury could sideline you for a while, and it’s not worth being on disability or being out of work because you tried to lift something above your weight class.

Follow these simple steps, and you, too, can be a Master Packer and stay healthy and injury free.

Article by RH Stovall, Jr

R.H. Stovall, Jr. is a Senior Executive Chauffeur, trainer and mentor for Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, NJ.

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