Thule_AscentWe’ve all underestimated how much stuff we can pack into our vehicles on a family road trip. Without the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines, it is just too easy to throw in extra things you don’t really need. While you’re at it, why not take your favourite pillow and your kids’ toys! At least, that’s what my family tried to do on our first family road trip.

Once everything was piled on our driveway, empty trunk waiting, we prayed for our genius spacial management abilities to kick in. We had to figure out how to magically squeeze 35 cubic square feet into 30 cubic square feet of trunk space in our 2012 Ford Escape. Inevitably, some of our bags ended up jammed in the back seat with the kids and dog, and then nobody was happy, and we hadn’t even left yet.

After a total of one day on the road, it was decided that something must be done. There simply wasn’t enough room for all of us, plus our stuff. Since replacing our relatively new vehicle wasn’t an option, and we are sort of attached to our stuff, we decided that we should invest in one of those hard top cases so many cars on the road were sporting.

We reached our destination, unloaded all of our gear, and found some relief in that. But with only a week before it was time to go home, a solution had to be found. After doing some research, we decided on a Thule Pulse hardtop case, with 16 cubic feet of cargo room. At $500, it was not an inexpensive solution, but we figured it was a solid investment. Truth be told, I was sold on the fact that it promised to be easy to install.

The first step was adjusting the rails on the roof rack. Once this was complete, all we had to do was make sure it was centered on the roof and then tighten the mounting hardware. The other helpful thing about the Thule — which I didn’t appreciate until later when I needed to access it from the other side of the vehicle — is that it opens from both sides. Also, a cool safety feature is that you can’t remove the keys from the lock until the latches are properly closed.

Needless to say, our trip home went a lot more smoothly. While we weren’t able to get everything into the Thule, we did free up a lot of space which made it possible for us to put our dog in the back of the Escape and give the kids more elbow room. Now we need to remember that just because we have more room available to us, we don’t need to pack more stuff!