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Discussion Starter #1
We have two kids, 3.5 and 1.5, who sit in the second row. We plan to take a 300-mile trip and would like to pack it in such a way that we have easy access to food that the kids may need, which will mostly be kept in a cooler (milk, juice, cheese, yogurt, etc). There is nothing out of ordinary in terms of the thing we plan to bring, luggage for two adults and kids, stroller, and a 50 qt cooler. Evidently the best way to carry a lot of stuff is to lower the third row, but then how do you keep your stuff secured so they don't move around and become dangerous in a crash? if I keep the third row seat up, I feel that I am not using the space efficiently. I may be able to fit the stroller in the space between the third row and second row seat but that space is not big enough for a mid size cooler. I don't think I could put anything on the third row seats themselves without them sliding all over the place. I am thus curious as to how you pack your van for a trip.

PS, I understand I could have also posted this in the "road trip" forum, but I thought each van may be different in some way so I ended up posting it here. I hope you wouldn't mind.
 

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if I keep the third row seat up, I feel that I am not using the space efficiently. I may be able to fit the stroller in the space between the third row and second row seat but that space is not big enough for a mid size cooler. I don't think I could put anything on the third row seats themselves without them sliding all over the place. I am thus curious as to how you pack your van for a trip.
Since your kids sit in the second row, definitely keep the 3rd row folded down. Otherwise, you'll have to scrunch all your luggage into a much smaller area behind the 3rd row. Pile up your luggage and items carefully and use bungee cords to keep things secure and from moving around.

You could remove the middle seat in the second row and put your cooler between the two children. However, that seat is the safest location in the van to put a child as it is the furthest away from the walls of the van.

I guess you'll have to do some mock packing and move things around and see what works best for you.

;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Since your kids sit in the second row, definitely keep the 3rd row folded down. Otherwise, you'll have to scrunch all your luggage into a much smaller area behind the 3rd row. Pile up your luggage and items carefully and use bungee cords to keep things secure and from moving around.

;)
I thought of the bungee cord option but don't remember seeing any hooks on which the cords can be fastened. What do you do to secure the bungee cords?

You are very right about the safety of the middle seat, but I have two boys and they will hit one another all day if I put them next to one another ...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, I would agree with removing the middle seat and placing the cooler there. I would also fold the 3rd row to maximize cargo space and use a pet barrier to keep the luggage behind the 2nd row. here is one i found on amazon for $24.95
Amazon.com: Pet Trex Premium Quality Pet Vehicle Barrier Cage Dog for Automobile SUV or Minivan: Pet Supplies
there are good pictures along with measurements.
I have thought of using the pet barrier, but I am not sure if it were designed to withstand the impact of heavy and blunt objects in the event of a crash.
 

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please don't buy that compression style barrier, I had one in my Grand Cherokee, it would fall with the most minor push or on bumpy roads. And yes I did tighten it a lot, I had nice imprints on my headliner from it.

Like others have said, fold the 3rd row. Our situation is slightly different because the little one is in the middle seat, but we generally only bring a small cooler and use the 'coolbox' for water bottles.

Enjoy your trip
 

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In the event of a crash, anything you will use to secure cargo behind the 2nd row will not be able to prevent luggage from entering the passenger space. A pet barrier would be safer than bungee cords. If safety is your priority, best option would be to use a roof top cargo box or hith mounted cargo box to contain your luggage and utilize the trunk area behind the 3rd row for items you need immediate access.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
After talking to my service manager, he pointed out all the hooks and loops that we can use to secure the luggages when the third row seats are down. I took a couple of pictures to show you where they are to make it easy for you to plan your trip.
 

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Haven't tried a trip in my 2011 yet but in my previous Odysseys I found a small cooler that would fit down between the second row seats and served for juice boxes and snacks while en route. I used a cargo net with the third row seats down but as it would never hold anything away from us in a crash I purchased ropes with ratchets from a local hardware store that I could tension up running the road through handles and the like. Not perfect but probably the best that can be done.
 

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Should have added that we have a ski trip coming up in a few weeks and we now have a dog to add to the mix. My kids, now 7 and 10 are arguing for removing the second row seats and having them sit in the third row so the dog has room to wander and play with them. I may give in and try it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
as it would never hold anything away from us in a crash I purchased ropes with ratchets from a local hardware store that I could tension up running the road through handles and the like. Not perfect but probably the best that can be done.
Very true. As I think more about packing, I have begun to worry about very little details. I will be getting a lot of supplies from scratch so I think it pays to be careful. Here is a list of considerations that I have found from reading on line. (Please contribute if you have better ideas)

1. Not packing carefully can kill. If you search, you would find the story about a woman who was killed by her laptop as it flew from the back of her car to hit her on the head. I don't remember if she were in a crash or if she just braked really hard, but you need to image what will happen if an object can do to you and your children at a speed of 35 MPH before you put it in the car. Soft duffel bags are better than luggages with a hard shell, not only b/c they won't hit you as hard but b/c they can squeeze into small space more easily. The same consideration goes with cooler. The traditional coolers are made of hard plastic and some of the blue ice packs are also made of hard plastic. If you also put many metal cans of soda inside, imagine when all of these fly around the car in a crash or roll over. There are coolers now that are made of soft materials with a zipper to keep all your food inside. I think these are the best, although they are more expensive.

2. Do not pack above the back of the second row seat.

3. Pack heavy and blunt objects as close to the second row as possible, and secure them. Cheap bungee cords, which can break and the hook may come off, are useless for safety. Robie, can you show us what you got? I think a trip to the hardware story is a good idea because people there know what type of strap or robes can bear a significant amount of load.
 

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Are you considering a roof top or hitch mounted cargo boxes? The cost is higher than bungee cords, ratcheting straps and pet barriers but the safety and peace of mind may be worth it. We travel with 3 under 3 so we need to utilize the 3rd row. We use storage bins to organize the items in the trunk to allow for better organization, safety and easier access to specific items. We can fit 4 bins (2 rows of 2) so any item is at most 1 bin away. a lot easier to access items near the bottom of the trunk since I only need to remove 1 large bin and open the top of the lower bin. also makes repacking the trunk so much easier. no need to play tetris at every pit stop. for luggage and items we don't need access to during the road trip, we utilize a hard cargo box. I have a roof cargo box that has a 21 cu ft capacity and a hitch mounted cargo box with a 13 cu ft. luckily, I havent had the need to use both at the same time, but each offer unique advantage. the roof box is larger but at the expense of a more difficult loading/unloading process. plus the roof box is a tear drop shape so making use of the entire 21 cu ft is a challenge. it is also longer so it can accommodate items like beach umbrellas, flotation noodles, strollers, snowboards, etc. the hitch mounted cargo box is smaller but due to the rectangular shape, it is easier to utilize the entire capacity. Loading is also a breeze. basically just like loading your trunk. the model i have also has the ability to swing out so you still have full access to the trunk area. With either of these cargo boxes, the interior of the odyssey remains uncluttered and all the necessities are comfortably within reach. my wife usually sits in the 2nd row to tend to the little ones so i utilize the passenger seat floor for a small cooler for my drinks/snacks and the seat for sweaters, baby bags or any other items we need at rest areas.

We have found this packing strategy is the safest, more efficient and least stressful. It does have more upfront cost but when taking +20 hr road trip, you will quickly appreciate the benefits and quickly forget the cost :)

good luck and safe travels.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Are you considering a roof top or hitch mounted cargo boxes? The cost is higher than bungee cords, ratcheting straps and pet barriers but the safety and peace of mind may be worth it. We travel with 3 under 3 so we need to utilize the 3rd row.
Good suggestions. "Fortunately," we have just two kids and no other passengers (with two or four legs), so we can fold down the 3rd row if need to. It is just a matter of time, when I will eventually add a hitch to the car to carry not just luggage but also bikes, depending on what we need to bring. My problem with the roof rack is the mount and dismount. Although the Ody is low to the ground, it is still a potential action to hurt my back ...

I will do a mock packing as someone suggested. If I can squeeze everything in without folding down the third row, I will keep everything in the cargo well which is nice and deep.
 

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After talking to my service manager, he pointed out all the hooks and loops that we can use to secure the luggages when the third row seats are down. I took a couple of pictures to show you where they are to make it easy for you to plan your trip.
I am in the process of mounting two dog crates in the back, and I am trying to use some sort of tie down on the round "hooks" in the back. I can't seem to find anything that attaches to them properly. Bungee cords don't fasten at all, and the rubber tie downs only hook on half way. Does anyone have any suggestions for something that I can pop on, and pop off when I want to put the crates in?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I am not an expert in packing ... but I think if you put a hook over it and then raise the cord over the crate and tie it down on the other side, it may work. As long as there is a lot of up-ward tension on the cord, it could stay down. Those round things are designed to be used with a cargo net that Honda sells.
 

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I might suggest an alternative that has worked very well for us for many long trips in our Ody. We had three children when we used it for a lot of travel (I have 7 kids now and drive a dodge sprinter when we need to haul the whole family - still have the Ody). Remove one of the second row seats and seat one child in the second row and the other in the third. Store all of the larger luggage that you do not need to get to behind the 3rd row like normal. Smaller things you need to access can go in the space created by the seat removal. If you do need to bring a large cooler, I would suggest you also bring a smaller soft sided cooler that can be placed for easy access. We actually keep our van like this permanently. It allows for easy access to the inside for adults and then can they help kids buckle if needed. Also, if perchance an adult needs to get back to one of the kids during the drive, it is very easy, you can even sit for a while in the third row to read a story or something like this. The other thing that we liked about this set up is that sometimes you have one child in your family who, for some reason, is causing trouble. With this set up, it is easy to isolate a child to assist in keeping parents sane.

We have taken several 4K mile trips with this setup and driven almost 1000 miles in one day - it works great for younger and older kids.
 

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I sometimes use the rear seatbelts to restrain an object like a stroller attaching it to the exposed sear anchor when the third row seat is folded. I use a small clevice from a hardware or marine store.
Eric
 

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You can get various types of cargo tie downs in hardware stores. I use one type which is rope with hooks on the end and a ratchet for tensioning on the rope. Another somewhat similar uses about one inch wide nylon straps instead of rope, again with ratchets. I can't imagine that you can't secure almost anything with the choices that are out there. I went looking for mine to post pictures but have a sneaking suspicion I may have left them under the floor in my old van when I traded in November. If they don't show up I will have to replace them.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I am also thinking about seat belts. I may put the stroller behind the 2nd row seat with the 3rd row seat up. With a few simple straps the stroller should fit well and tight on the floor. I can put a few soft duffel bags on the 3rd row seat, secured them with seat belt and with straps that attach to the latch anchors. The space behind driver and front passenger seat is big enough for a cooler. The rest of our belongings should fit in the cargo well. This will be my plan A.
 
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