How to Pack a Moving Truck 101

Packing for a move is kind of like playing Tetris. Fitting pieces of furniture and boxes in a relocation trailer can seem impossible, but there’s some science behind it. When you learn how to pack a moving truck properly, it’ll come to you naturally, like riding a bike. Here are essential tips for loading a moving truck.

A view of a long-distance moving truck
March 28, 2022 Posted in How-to

How to Pack a Moving Truck Efficiently – The Number One Tip Anyone Should Know

Any professional mover will tell you that the best way to load a moving truck is by arranging the heaviest and largest items in the trailer first. That goes before any other item and should be the only thing you remember from the entire experience.

Now, before any packaging happens, you need to put together a cross-country moving checklist. It’ll help you arrange your thoughts, plan what to package and wrap first, and ultimately, declutter. The secret to any successful move is decluttering – a hoarder’s nightmare.

If you fancy yourself a collector of sorts and think every single thing in your house is worthy of relocating, you might need some professional help. Not to say that’s crazy; it’s just terribly inefficient and could cost you mountains of cash for no particular reason.

In the case of relocating to a smaller home, getting rid of extra stuff will need to happen sooner or later. That process also helps you figure out what size trailer you need to rent since filling out a too big vehicle will be a waste of money.

Declutter, make a checklist, and put heavy and large objects into the vehicle first.

What Should I Pack First When Moving a Truck?

We already said the first thing that goes in are the heavy and oversized items, but what are they exactly? Appliances, tables, couches, sectionals, bed frames, and alike all belong in this category. When you make a household inventory list, start from the largest stuff first and work your way down to trinkets, so the list presents step-by-step trailer loading instructions.

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How Do You Pack a Moving Truck Yourself, and Is It Better to Call Cross-Country Movers?

When you start stacking and arranging, you’ll see how much space there is left for all the other stuff you want to move. If there’s too little, you may be hauling cargo in your car’s trunk across the country or be forced to leave a lot behind.

It’s normal to misjudge the amount of stuff and a truck’s size. While renting a hauling vehicle yourself is the cheapest way to move out of state, you would have to package it right on the first try. If you do, kudos – that’s a tricky thing to achieve. If you don’t – it’s alright. You only had the best intentions in mind.

On the other hand, hiring professional long-distance moving services will go smoothly: movers will determine the size of the vehicle, load and unload it, assemble and disassemble the furniture, drive across the country, and all for a price determined by your household inventory list.

That will be much more affordable and convenient than telling your family you’re fine while trying to jam a mattress into a packed rental.

An employee of a long-distance moving company taking inventory
What is the best way to pack a relocation truck? Usually, with the help of professional movers

Let’s Start From the Front of the Vehicle – That’s Where You Load the Large and Heavy Items

Why does placing the heaviest and largest belongings in a relocation vehicle come first? Imagine the driver having to brake suddenly because of a disruption on the road. If the heavy stuff were placed last or in the middle of the trailer, it’d just crush everything else during braking. It’s simple physics.

So, the best way to pack a moving truck doesn’t involve learning how to package golf clubs or where to package books but figuring out how to arrange all your big and bulky stuff first. Before anything goes into the trailer, it must be wrapped in a protective layer – that’s when you’ll use plastic wrap to secure your stuff.

A washing machine, oven, or fridge could open during transport or loading, which would almost certainly damage the doors on these appliances. Wrapping them in a few layers of plastic will be enough protection against bumps.

You can also place a mattress the closest to the driver’s cabin and lean the appliances onto them. That’d be a clever, space-saving way of protecting your belongings. Ensure you load the appliances upright and not lying down, which is another line of protection that could beat the laws of physics in case of sudden braking.

A view of a gray kitchen and stainless steel appliances
Your fridge needs to go into the relocation vehicle first - but wrap it in plastic beforehand

Disassemble Your Furniture Wherever That’s Possible

Any piece of furniture that’s possible to disassemble should be. This specifically goes for dining tables, desks, and bed frames. These things are not just too bulky to place into a relocation trailer but also really tough to go around.

If it’s hard or impossible to disassemble a dining table, wrap it in a protective blanket and lay its legs up—stack containers on top that could hold it in place but aren’t too heavy to cause damage.

Don’t Worry About Your Couch or Bed – You’ll Build Them Back at the New House

We know disassembling stuff is stressful and complex, but it’s not an insurmountable mountain. Mount Everest was conquered, and your dining table can be, too.

If you get stuck and start panicking, contact professional movers. They are trained in packing services and know how to handle things correctly. When you begin unpacking after the move, they can be there to put everything back together.

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OK, maybe you want to be your own boss, DIY master, and professional, and put your stuff together alone. That’s alright, too. What’s most important is staying level-headed and organized. When you disassemble, remember what goes where.

Perhaps write numbers with an erasable marker on each piece to put it back together faster. If the item you’re pulling apart has screws, put them in a small zip bag and tape them with duct tape to the largest part. That way, you won’t lose any vital bits.

Lay all your dismantled things upright, not down. It’ll save space and act as a buffer for protecting the rest of the trailer’s contents.

If you’re trying to dismantle a wardrobe in your bedroom, the man in the video below is convenient and explains the process clearly. It might encourage you to start working on your disassembly.

Ensure You Have Enough Packing Materials – Boxes Matter

Now that the biggest parts are out of the way and you’ve successfully dismantled large furniture, it’s time to see what to do with all the containers filled with household items. They should go after the big stuff, preferably from bigger to smaller – bigger closer to the front and the appliances, and smaller more at the back.

Finding the best-sized boxes for packaging might pose a challenge if you don’t know how much to put in each. That’s why (again) taking inventory will help with that.

Knowing the right size for a box will help you package toys the kids tend to leave on the floor, package fragile stuff that needs extra protection and padding, and finally, box up electronics that should be in special containers that keep them safe from any turn or fork in the road.

What Are the Essential Materials for Packing Boxes, You Might Ask? Here’s a List of Them

Perfectly sized containers aren’t the only relocation essentials that make relocation efficient and successful. There are numerous packaging materials that could save your life (and belongings) before and after the move.

Here’s a list of essential materials to use when relocating:

  • Boxes (the correct box will save you money, time, and space)
  • Duct tape (the best friend any packer and mover might have)
  • Wrapping materials (these range from newspapers, plastic wrap, and cotton cloths in your house to professional materials like packing paper, relocation blankets, and the ultimate packaging boss – bubble wrap)
  • Relocation labels (essential for finding your way around cargo when loading the vehicle and unpacking)
  • Scissors (the duct tape’s companion and great all-round tool)

What Should You Not Pack In a Moving Truck? The Essentials That Must Come With You and Never in a Relocation Trailer

To finish the list of things that go into a relocation vehicle, we’ll discuss the stuff that should never end up in one in the first place. Did you know that there are items movers won’t move? If you decide to move on your own, you may not get an extensive list of this stuff or be familiar with it, but when you hire movers, they’ll provide one.

Flammable and hazardous substances are out of the question, and you shouldn’t even consider packaging them in the first place. Anything that could leak or contaminate the cargo in the trailer should also stay at home or end up in the trash (or recycled responsibly).

It’s not like they’ll refuse to package a guitar if you ask them to, but you shouldn’t load the cargo hold with boxes filled with heavy stuff if it’s a valuable, collector’s, or personal item. Trust us; it’s an easy way to avoid and reduce relocation stress.

Hopefully, you’re not considering transporting pets and plants in a relocation trailer because that would be crazy. If you hand a plant to a professional mover, they’ll just shake their head and deny any connection to it. Any living item in the trailer is your responsibility because movers will have told you by then that they won’t package it, and if you did it yourself, only you will bear the consequences.

Make Sure No Personal or Valuable Stuff Ends up in the Relocation Vehicle

The list of personal and valuable stuff that should go with you in the car or airplane includes:

  • Documents and paperwork,
  • Jewelry and valuables,
  • Small, personal electronic devices and chargers,
  • Musical instruments,
  • Fine art,
  • Prescription medication,
  • Toiletries,
  • Cash and cards,
  • Essentials bags for the first 24 hours in your new home,
  • Kitchen supplies, food, and pet food.

If any mover or company agrees to package these things into the relocation vehicle, call the customer service number and ask if that’s right. If the customer representatives and movers say yes, you may have stumbled onto a relocation scam.

Whenever you doubt relocation fraud is happening, you can do a USDOT number check and verify that this company is registered at the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

To avoid clocking a scam while the trailer loading is happening, take steps to ensure you’ve hired a legitimate relocation company.

A girl packing her electronics for cross-country moving
Personal belongings should go with you, and if a mover agrees to transport them, it might be a scam

If Unsure, Call Long-Distance Movers Near Me to Do All the Work

A long-distance moving company is a valuable asset in any type of relocation, including last-minute relocation. In fact, if you do plan to move at the last minute, it might be better to ship your belongings to another state with professional assistance than to try it yourself.

In addition to free assembly and dismantling of belongings, transportation, and appliance packaging, you can get more perks with a company than all alone. For example, many movers offer free storage services for a month and free relocation insurance.

You can even get a car shipping service with some movers and get the whole package taken care of by one legitimate business. It’s a fantastic way to relocate and saves money, time, and energy.

One of the busy long-distance movers showing thumbs up
Professional movers are irreplaceable assets when it comes to relocating across the country

Congratulations, You Now Know How to Pack a Truck for Long-Distance Moving

Now that you know how to pack a truck and all it takes to get this endeavor going, you should figure out when to start packing, what to bring along and what to say goodbye to. Once you start loading the trailer, you’ll see it’s no big deal. As long as you use every tip we shared.

However, if you’re still nervous about doing it right and don’t want to risk your belongings getting crushed, call a relocation company to do the work for you. Whatever you want packed, they’ll do it, and you’ll move to a new home happy and with all your stuff intact.

Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

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