A Meijer expert offers hacks to ease packing stress.

By Shandra Martinez

It’s the holiday season and it's your turn to travel to the homes of loved ones. The good news is that no hosting duties mean you won’t be up all night cleaning your house for guests. The bad news is that you’ll be hauling lots of stuff to these holiday rendezvous. Fortunately, there are some hacks to make holiday packing more efficient and less stressful.

We turn to Rodney Detzler, who has worked in Meijer’s warehouse division for three decades. He’s so good that he packs about 100 semi-trailers a week out of Meijer’s main distribution hub in Lansing, Michigan. Detzler’s expertise in load optimization can translate to some practical tips for packing up personal vehicles when you are working with items of odd shapes, sizes, and weights. Here are some of his suggestions:

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Begin by cleaning out your vehicle

Clear out forgotten beach towels and soccer balls so you have as much floor space as possible. This is a good way to take stock of how much room you have to work with.


Create a staging area

A few days before the trip, begin rounding up the non-perishables — presents, suitcases, blow-up mattress etc. Detzler uses a spot in his garage, but a spare room is a good option, too. Seeing the bulk of what has to go in your car will help you figure out what needs to go in first.

 “You can eyeball as you get the first thing in and think, ‘What can I slide next to it?’ Then, you can look around at what you have left to load,” Detzler said.

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Heavy on the bottom

It’s the same strategy you use to bag groceries: heavy foods, like canned goods, go in the bottom of the bag and light foods, like bread, on the top. Begin with the heavy, bulky items and fill in with smaller, softer item that can be squeezed into remaining spaces.

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Separate by temperature

Keep hot and cold foods away from produce. Don’t let your produce touch your frozen foods, which can cause a minor catastrophe, turning bananas brown. Detzler’s rule: No produce should go near ice — unless it is being shipped across the country.

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Pack one level at a time

Build the floor spacing first, then add another layer. Detzler recommends putting food on the bottom and wrapped gifts on the top so they aren’t crushed.


Use containers and bags

Considering putting smaller items like dishes or kitchen supplies in a plastic container so they don’t scatter or spill during the ride. And take advantage of your stash of Meijer reusable grocery bags.

“They stand upright and hold up better than traditional plastic or paper bags. If you do it right, you can stack one on top another,” Detzler said. “Use the insulated Meijer bags for the foods you need to keep cold.”

One last tip: Don’t ruin your holiday trip by having an argument over packing. Even pros like Detzler and his fellow team members have different strategies when it comes to loading trailers. No way is the absolute best way. “Everybody packs differently — like here, everybody stacks a pallet differently,” he said.

He followed that wisdom for years when getting the family camper ready for summer vacation. “I put everything where my wife wanted it,” Detzler said.




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