Trips With Kids

Balkan road trip 2017 ahead of us

In August 2017 we went with our children for a three week long road trip to the Balkans.

How we were packed

We’ve chose our car – the Ford Tourneo Custom – as a main transportation unit. This van is ideal for long trips. We just had to think about how to make the best use of his luggage space.

It’s equipped with three rows of seats and also has a meter of trunk behind the third row. We’ve changed its persons capacity from 8 to 7 by pulling out one seat in the second row. This makes it easier to get in and out of the car. One seat in the third row was supposed to help in an emergency case if our youngest traveler would not like the trip.

As is well known in the cars that have the back doors lifted up the hardest to pack is the upper corner of the trunk. Packing things under the roof is a little bit dangerous in case of emergency stop. Our vehicle is a passenger version, so there is no wall separating the passenger and luggage space. To manage with baggage I had to develop something, so I started to build the car luggage rack.

My idea was not to use any suitcases, backpacks or bags at all – and instead we will be packed into storage boxes. Boxes can be placed on top of each other and it is enough space to build a rack in which they will stand. From idea to implementation – in one day I managed to build a structure. In the meantime, it had to be corrected twice, because it turned out that the car manufacturer did not make the trunk wall vertically. There is a rounding that I did not measured first. In the end, I succeeded, and the end result looks as follows:

As you can see in the picture the rack is divided into three functional parts. The lower part is intended for heavier things. During our trip we kept there mainly food supplies and kitchen equipment. The lower part of a rack has capacity of 6 boxes (three columns of two). Boxes were stacked. Two large boxes for food supplies, and one large and one small for kitchen equipment.

The middle part is a shelf for a tourist table and two gas stoves with cartridges. The table was needed quite often and this way we could reach it easily. We had two gas stoves, although we used only one. The other one was our backup used only when something had to be cooked at the same time.

The upper part of the rack is very similar to the lower part, except upper-right corner due to the upholstery issue. So there also were three columns of stacked boxes. At the top we packed lighter things – such as children’s clothes, shoes, cosmetics and towels.

It was good arrangement of boxes? Yes, it was. The fact that the boxes fit in each other gaves us the opportunity to pack them into any configuration. As it turned out during the trip we made some minor reorganization of boxes contents. Food stocks were reduced to one box as they were eaten, and their place was replaced with dirty clothes.

Apart from the boxes in the trunk, we also had some small bags for the less frequently needed things that we kept under the seats. We stored the tent between the rack and the rear row of seats. Next to that was a place for a bath tub for Iwona, and a toy pusher. Iwona was learning to take her first steps.

In the place of pulled out seat in secound row we put tourist refrigerator. We had a power supply in the car for that purpose and also we were using it to charge the electronics while driving.

One more thing, we also have had the roof box mounted, which gave us an extra 520 liters of capacity for things needed for an overnight. We putted there an inflatable mattresses, raincoats and sleeping bags. In the other part of the roof box we also putted off dirty clothes, which we intended to unpack when returning home.

Packing in the boxes took about 5 evenings. It was not an easy task.


I planned a vacation road trip. First I chose some places for night and scheduled some visits to interesting places by the way. We assumed to drive longest parts when Iwona was sleeping. In most days we were able to avoid long travel hours except first two and last two days of trip. On the regular day we spent between 2 and 4 hours of driving.

The schedule of the day looked more or less like follows. In the morning after breakfast we packed the tent and all the things, and we drove to the next place while Iwona was speeping. On the way we were exploring. Dinner on the way in the restaurant, or at the end of journey cooked at the campsite.

Our purpose was to visit the most interesting places in Albania. For the first 12 days we drove south up to the border with Greece, another 11 days to the north.

In next posts we will try to describe each day in detail.