By Amy DeYoung
Updated Dec 29, 2022
Effective packing is an underrated art that can save you time, frustration, and money. However, many of us aren’t used to packing a truck to the brim with our belongings for a big move.
If you’re renting a moving truck or borrowing a friend’s truck to DIY your move, it’s important that you approach packing the truck with a strategy. Watch this video where House Method’s Moving Expert Sean Donnelly discusses packing do’s and don’ts:
Now, dive into our list of top moving tips and truck packing mistakes to avoid.
The biggest mistake you can make is not planning ahead. While packing up a truck may seem like a physical task, it’s also a mental challenge. Think of packing a truck up like a game of Tetris where you need to pack many items in a tight space without wasting space. Remember that empty space on the moving truck is lost money if you have to rent a larger vehicle or go back for an additional trip.
In order to avoid this common moving blunder, give yourself time to pack ahead. Packing your boxes neatly while fitting as much as possible into each box will ensure you optimize space in the moving truck.
Don’t wait until the last minute when you’ll be tempted to rush and throw anything into boxes, resulting in possibly broken items during transit and a greater number of boxes to try and fit in the vehicle.
Another reason to avoid waiting until the last minute is you won’t have as much time to go through your belongings and declutter. The fewer items you bring, the less space you’ll need for packing on the truck. There is no reason to bring items you’re no longer using, so get rid of them as you pack by sorting them into donate, give away, sell, and trash/recycle piles. Make a plan to get rid of these piles before your move date. Your moving truck will feel much roomier without these extra items bogging you down.
Another common truck packing mistake is not labeling your moving boxes. Understandably, you want to make packing go as quickly as possible. However, taking no time to organize your belongings when you pack and not labeling the boxes sets you up for a nightmare when you unpack. You also won’t know which boxes contain fragile items, like dishes or artwork, which can result in broken or damaged items if they aren’t carefully placed on the moving truck.
As you pack, label each box with information about what room the belongings go to, what the box contains, and if the items are fragile or not. A fragile label sets you up for success when packing because you’ll know not to place a heavy box filled with books on top of a box filled with your beautiful, breakable dishes.
While it’s tempting to save money by tossing your belongings into plastic bags or garbage bags, we strongly recommend using moving boxes instead. There’s a reason professional moving companies pack belongings in cardboard boxes.
Moving boxes offer protection and are easily stackable in the back of a moving truck. You can also cram packing paper in the nooks and crannies of moving boxes to pad your belongings during transit.
If you have especially delicate items, like artwork or mirrors, look for specialty packing boxes to accommodate these items. Mirror moving boxes and boxes designed for posters and artwork are available and can save you a lot of money in damage or replacements.
If you can’t pack items in a box, wrap them in protective packing materials, like bubble wrap and packing tape, to prevent damage during transit. Mattress bags and plastic wrap are great ways to protect mattresses and upholstered furniture from dirt and grime in the back of the truck.
Before your move date, sort your moving boxes into loose categories to streamline the packing process.
Group items together based on the room of the house they’ll go in, size, and fragility. All fragile boxes should be grouped together so that you and anyone helping you load know they need to go on top of other boxes to keep them from being crushed.
Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by perfectionism during this process. This is all about roughly organizing your belongings. There is nothing to gain from spending two hours making sure your boxes are organized. However, an extra 20 minutes in organizing can save you a lot of time later on, so keep this process short and efficient.
For starters, you should take any large, bulky items like exercise equipment or furniture apart to lessen the risk of injury while loading them into the truck. Before your move day, take apart bed frames, headboards, and exercise equipment. Most dressers, bookcases, and dining room sets can also be taken apart or have the legs removed to avoid them getting damaged during the moving process.
After you’ve broken down large items, take them and load them into the moving truck first. Moving professionals always pack furniture and heavy boxed items, like floor mirrors or TVs, before boxes. Take care to ensure that furniture, like chairs, dressers, or couches, stays upright by placing them against the back wall of the truck.
Next, tie down your furniture and heavy boxes with rope or moving straps to keep them in place while you drive. Even if your truck is packed full, you don’t want to risk furniture sliding and crushing boxes.
If you’re concerned about moving large items and furniture, contact a moving company to have professional movers do the heavy lifting. It’s not worth risking your health and safety to save a little money.
Before placing the first item in the back of the moving truck, mentally divide the back of the truck into sections. As much as possible, evenly distribute weight throughout the back of the moving truck.
Always leave the back section for your heaviest items, like furniture or a boxed TV. Next, you’ll want to place boxes filled with your belongings into the truck. Stack lighter boxes or boxes marked “fragile” on top of heavier boxes to avoid crushing items in other boxes.
If you have large rugs, roll them tightly and keep them upright between furniture and boxes to prevent them from taking up excess space.
The last section closest to the loading zone should contain the lightest boxes and boxes containing the most fragile items. You’ll also want to store your box or suitcase with your overnight things so that you’re not scrambling to find your toiletries and a change of clothes when you arrive at your new home.
If you’re moving a short distance and bringing food, keep as many foods and liquids with you in the truck’s cabin. The air conditioning will help the food last longer. Immediately remove these items and refrigerate them when you arrive at your new house or apartment.
Packing a moving truck can feel like a game as you try to cram as many items as possible into the back of the truck to avoid making a second trip.
If you’re concerned about lifting heavy items or packing the truck the right way, consider hiring movers to pack your belongings and move them for you. While this may seem like a more expensive option, many moving companies offer affordable rates, especially if you plan ahead.
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