Transporting a cake can be stressful, but knowing these tips, you’ll be able to transport cakes of all sizes safely even if you only have a small car.
We’ll go over some dos and don’ts of traveling with cakes, so you can reach your destination without damaging the cake.
And yes, you can actually transport a cake, even a large custom cake, in a car. It’s not always necessary to have a van or an SUV.
I had a home bakery for a time and would travel with cakes in my car all the time, even wedding cakes. So from big cakes to small cakes, you just need the right tips to help you get it to its destination.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- First, make a plan:
- Must-Know general tips for transporting cakes:
- How to transport a wedding cake or a tiered cake:
- How to transport a cake in a car:
- How to transport a cake in a car trunk (the boot):
- How to transport a cake without a box:
- How to transport a cake long distance:
- How to transport a cake in hot weather:
- Other posts you might like:
Transporting cakes is always nerve-racking. It’s scary to think you’ve worked so hard on a cake only to have it smashed when you get to your destination.
I’ve tried to compile all my best tips and tricks here to help alleviate at least some of the stress.
First, make a plan:
If it’s a small cake, it’s just not that big of a deal to travel with. You basically just need to make sure you’re in a cool vehicle and that the cake is on a level surface like a floorboard (not a seat because those lean).
If you’re traveling with a custom cake or a wedding cake or a stacked cake, then there’s more to it.
You really want to scope out where you’re going. Are there lots of bumpy roads? Hard turns? Steep inclines? You need to be prepared for all of these things and keep them in mind.
If you’ll have all of those things or at least a couple, then you may want to rethink traveling with a stacked cake and just take it in separate tiers and stack it at the venue.
The best thing you can do is to think ahead first and formulate a plan.
Now let’s get into some general tips before we get more specific.
Must-Know general tips for transporting cakes:
Here’s a list of general, basic tips that will be helpful any time you need to transport a cake. We’ll go through specific types of cake transport down below.
Use a box or a cake carrier depending on the size of the cake:
It’s best to have something that will protect the cake from debris. If you don’t have a box, or can’t find one big enough, we’ll go over that later.
Make sure the box is the same size as the cake base or else the cake will just slide around in the box.
Transport cakes on a flat surface:
Don’t transport custom cakes on the car seat or someone’s lap, especially if it’s a tiered cake (we’ll get into more specifics regarding tiered cakes later on). You want to transport it on a flat surface like a clean floorboard.
Even if your back seats fold down, you might be tempted to set your cakes on them. You don’t want to do that. Most likely they don’t lay flat. Even if they do, there is probably still a space between the folded-down seats and the back of the front seats. There’s potential for the cake to slide and tilt.
The same applies to the front seat. Seats aren’t level and if you have to slam on your breaks, well, then your dashboard is going to be covered in cake and buttercream.
You DO have a better chance of having a level surface if you put the cake on the floorboards. Push your front seat all the way back. Add some nonslip shelf liner (the rubber stuff that’s in a grid pattern) on the floor and set the cake on that.
If you feel it’ll be too tall, just take the tiers separately and put the cake together at the venue. You can set the other tiers in the back on the floorboards. We’ll talk a little more about transporting tiered cakes further down in this post.
Chill it to firm it up:
This is especially true if it’s a buttercream cake. If it’s a cake with cream cheese frosting or has fruit in it or on it, it should be stored chilled as well.
You can also pre-chill your car as well. Go ahead and turn on the AC and let it cool down before you add the cake.
Give yourself plenty of time:
Leave early enough to drive slow, especially if you’ll be traveling with an intricate cake or a tiered cake. You don’t want to have to rush around stressing yourself out even more.
Ok, this is a given, but seriously, take it easy and drive slowly around corners, bumps and everything else. Know where you’re going ahead of time. You can even scope out the roads if it’s not too far away.
Just drive as careful as you can and stay at least several car lengths behind other cars in case they slam on their brakes.
Maybe invest in some signage:
If you do this for a living, you might want to invest in a ‘cake on board’ magnet or sticker for your car. At least that would explain to others on the road why you might be driving a little slow or taking corners slowly.
Use something to cushion the cake:
Add something under the cake to absorb some of the shock and bumpiness of the road. You could use a yoga mat or a towel under the cake box.
Use something to keep it from sliding around:
Definitely use a non-stick shelf surface under the cake. The easiest way to do this is to use a shelf liner. It’s the kind that’s got the rubbery, bumpy texture and you can usually find it cheap at the dollar store.
Just cut a square and set it under the cake box to keep the cake from sliding around.
Don’t transport a cake on a cake stand:
This is a bad idea. I know it’s nice to have the cake completely ready to present, but decorate that cake on a cake base and bring the stand separately.
You can set the cake onto the cake stand when you get to the destination. Traveling with the cake already on the stand is a disaster waiting to happen.
If it’s a tiered cake, use supports:
If you’re transporting a cake that’s stacked, make sure you use supports in the cake when you make it. If you didn’t, the cake will fall apart and easily tip over.
If you want to know how to stack cakes properly with supports, see this post here: How to Stack Cakes
Bring an emergency kit:
This is always a must. You want to pack a bag with some items that will be helpful if your cake gets a little squished or you have to repair some buttercream.
You’ll also want to add in the tools you’ll need to stack the cake if you’re transporting it in sections.
Now let’s get into more specific details.
How to transport a wedding cake or a tiered cake:
Figure out how much room you’ve got in your vehicle:
If you’ve got an SUV or even a hatchback, you’ve probably got plenty of room. With a small car though, you have to improvise, which we’re about to get into.
Just know if you drive a small car, it’s completely doable. I’ve done it many times.
You may need to transport it in sections:
If you’ve got a small vehicle, you may need to transport a tiered cake without it being stacked and then just stack it at the venue.
You can box up the separate tiers and transport them on a flat surface (like the clean floorboards) and not worry about anything getting smashed.
Alternately, you can transport the two bottom tiers already stacked, but the other tiers separate and stack at the venue
Don’t transport a cake on a cake stand:
We talked about this earlier, but the cake needs to be on a cake board and then the cake (with the cake board) can be set onto the cake stand when you get to the destination.
A cake stand is just not stable enough for a moving car. Even if it’s one with a wide base, the cake may slide around on it and fall off. It’s better to just not take the risk.
Make your own box if the cake is large:
You might have to make your own box if the cake is taller than the usual cake boxes. I’ve had to do this many times as it’s just really hard to find cake boxes big enough especially for stacked cakes.
You can use taller boxes you can find at Lowe’s, Walmart, or other places too. Just tape up the ends of the box and cut a line down the longest, tallest side so the box actually opens from the side to slide your cake into.
Don’t transport a stacked or tiered cake on a car seat:
Car seats just aren’t level. They lean and while you might get away with transporting a single-tiered cake on them, it won’t work out if you try that with a stacked or tiered cake.
Don’t transport a stacked or tiered cake in someone’s lap:
You don’t want to just have someone holding a tiered cake. A lap isn’t level and our bodies move a lot when riding in a car and we can’t always control what or when we move in response to things.
This is just an all-around bad idea.
Use something to cushion the cake & to keep it from sliding:
We talked about this in the basic tips above, but using a yoga mat, a fluffy towel, or something to cushion the cake is a great idea.
It’s also a good idea to use a non-stick shelf liner under the cake box to keep it from sliding around.
Use a fancy cake transport box:
If you have a cake business and do this for a living, you might want to look at the fancy cake transport boxes they have now. They’re made specifically for transporting tiered cakes and some of them have a central rod that goes into the middle to keep them from toppling over.
Now, to use these, you’d have to have an SUV, van, or at least a hatchback because they’re just too big to fit into a car.
Here’s a link to the Cake Safe which is a transport box for tiered cakes: Cake Safe
How to transport a cake in a car:
Figure out how much room you actually have:
First, you need to be realistic and figure out how much room you actually have in your car and how tall the cake will be.
Also, think about the fact that you might have other passengers, the weather if the seats fold down, etc.
If you’re transporting a single cake, you’ll have lots of options, but if it’s a stacked, tiered cake, we’ll you might need to be a little inventive.
You just might have to haul the cake in your car unassembled.
You must have flat surfaces:
You’ve got to transport the cake on a flat surface and that’s not a car’s seat (even folded down) or a person’s lap. You’ll likely need to use the clean floorboards or a trunk (we’ll go over how to transport it in a trunk below).
Basically, car seats aren’t level. It’s possible to add something to level out the seat, but make sure that it’s not something that can shift while the car is moving.
This is especially important for long trips, in hot weather when the cake can melt a little and shift easier, and also when you’re transporting a stacked cake.
Transport it in sections:
If it’s a tiered cake, you may need to transport the cake in sections. You could potentially stack the bottom two tiers and bring the other tiers along to assemble at the venue. I’ve done that many times.
Use a shock absorber and a non-slip mat:
We’ve talked about this before, but make sure to set down some padding like a fluffy towel or yoga mat to absorb the shock.
Also, add a non-slip shelf liner under the cake boxes to keep them from sliding around.
How to transport a cake in a car trunk (the boot):
First, determine how hot the weather will be:
If it will be hot, then you may not be able to transport a cake in the trunk. You’d really need either a hatchback car or a car where the back seats will fold down, this way the air conditioning will reach the trunk.
Determine how tall the cake will be:
If it’s a tiered cake, you may not be able to fit the entire thing in the trunk. You may have to stack the bottom two tiers only and transport the other tiers in separate boxes, adding them to the cake when you reach the venue.
Use padding and non-slip materials:
I keep harping on this, but it’s so helpful. Add a soft towel and/or a yoga mat to absorb some of the shock from the car ride, then add a non-slip shelf liner under the towel or yoga mat and also under the cake box or cake board to keep everything from sliding around.
Try to use a cake box if you can:
If the cake is large, then you don’t have to use a box specific for cakes. You can use a larger box instead and let it open from the side instead of the top or bottom.
Just grab a box from a local store and make sure that one of the sides will be tall enough to fit the cake. Then tape up the ends and cut your own slit down the longest part of the box, so that it opens from the side allowing you to slide in your cake.
Make sure to drive slowly:
This is a given, but must be said. Take corners slowly, brake slowly, and try not to go over too many rough roads.
Here’s my setup for traveling with tiered cakes in my car:
The back seats in my car will lay down flat and it opens up to the trunk. This is the only way I’m able to transport a cake in the trunk even if it’s hot out.
I usually go ahead and lay down the seats, then turn on the AC to cool off the car if it’s hot. This way the AC reaches the trunk compartment.
First, you’ll want to make sure the trunk is flat. My trunk has a rubber ‘thing’ on the bottom of it that has ridges, so I add a non-slip liner, a thin towel, and a flattened cardboard box over that to make it a smooth surface.
Next, I add a non-slip liner across it and then a big fluffy towel. I don’t want the towel sliding around, so that’s why I add the non-slip liner first.
Now here’s my secret weapon: You want to lessen the amount of jolt the cake could receive from riding in the trunk, but you don’t want to add any ‘bounce’ to it. You just want something that will absorb a little of the shock. So…..the secret weapon is a yoga mat.
It’s simple, but I think it really makes a difference. It adds just enough cushion, but it doesn’t add any ‘bounce’ like foam might. It also acts as a non-slip surface. PERFECT!
So here’s the thing about my trunk…it’s a deep trunk, but there’s not a very big opening. A large box will not go into the trunk without tilting it here and there.
Well, that won’t work when you’ve got a cake that shouldn’t be tilted because it’s stacked and honestly, those types of cakes are generally heavy at that point, so you definitely don’t want to be tilting it.
What works for me is that I place the EMPTY large box in the trunk on top of the fluffy towel and yoga mat. Then I grab the tiered cake and have someone hold the flaps of the box open for me while I set the cake in it. Then I seal up the box with tape.
Generally, I’ll stack the bottom two tiers and transport the other tier or tiers in separate boxes and stack them when I get to the venue.
Now I can’t promise you that this method is perfect for every single cake you’ll make, that you’ll never have anyone stop short in front of you, or that an animal won’t run out in front of your car. That kind of thing can happen no matter what kind of vehicle you’re transporting your cake in.
Transporting a cake when you don’t have an SUV or van is not the ideal situation, but with a bit of ingenuity and motivation, it CAN be done!
How to transport a cake without a box:
You don’t have to have a box made specifically for cakes. You can use another box you have laying around, just make sure it’s clean.
You really just need something to keep the dust off the cake as you travel with it, so if it’s a taller, tiered cake, you could even make your own box with cardboard you have around. Just make sure the box opens on the side to slide the cake in. (You can see that in the pictures above.)
You could also use some type of cellophane to cover it. This may only work if the cake is fondant as the cellophane may stick to the buttercream.
If all else fails, and you have nothing you can use as a makeshift box or cake cover, just make sure your car is really clean.
How to transport a cake long distance:
This will depend on how long of a distance it will be. If you need to fly with a cake, that’s another issue altogether and I don’t have any experience flying with cakes.
If you’ll be traveling a long distance in a motor vehicle though, the best thing to do is to plan well.
Figure out how long the trip will be, the best route to take, and whether you’ll need to keep the cake chilled or not. These are all factors that will play a big part in whether or not you’ll actually be able to travel with a cake.
If the cake needs to be chilled the entire time and the destination is hours away, then you’ll need to work something out like boxing the cake and adding dry ice or ice packs.
Personally, I wouldn’t travel very long distances with a stacked cake, because it’s just going to get constantly jostled. I’d bring the tiers separately and stack them at the location.
When my step-son got married, their wedding was two hours away. His cake wasn’t an exceptionally tall cake. It was just a three-tiered cake.
I stacked the bottom two tiers and brought the top tier seperately to stack once I got to the venue.
One of the reasons for that was that I thought the cake would be too tall for my vehicle and the second was I didn’t want to take the chance of the cake getting jostled and the top tier falling off somehow.
How to transport a cake in hot weather:
Blast the AC ahead of time:
Turn the car on before the trip and blast the air conditioner to cool it down before you ever set the cake inside the car
Chill the cake:
Chill the cake for about 30 minutes or more before the trip to firm it up.
Alternatives for chilling the cake:
Think about using dry ice or ice packs next to the cake to keep it chilled if it’ll be a really long distance.
Use a level surface:
Yep, I’m saying it again…make sure to transport the cake on a level surface like a floorboard or the trunk (see above about the trunk).
Remember that you can set a towel down on the floorboard to make a clean surface and it’s best to have the cake in a carrier or a cake box if you can.
Transporting in a trunk in hot weather:
If you want to transport a cake in the trunk in hot weather, you’ll either need to drive a car with a hatchback or one where the back seats fold down and it opens to the trunk.
Otherwise, the air conditioner won’t be able to reach the trunk area and your cake will be a melted mess once you get to your destination.
(Make sure to check out the other tips above on how to transport a cake in a car trunk.)
I hope this was helpful and that you’re able to transport your cakes and not be too stressed out.
Don’t Forget to Pin it for Later!