While the process of moving can involve many steps, it can get more challenging if you’re doing it yourself. But, doing it yourself comes with a lot of benefits, the biggest being that you get to save up on a significant amount.

The flip side though is figuring out all the steps and carrying them out efficiently, especially if you’re an amateur in the moving process. From getting your inventory together to loading and moving, the process is a long and arduous one. But it’s not something that you can’t wrap your head around.

One of the first questions that pop into your head is how to pack a moving truck, not only because you have breakable items, but also because you want to utilize the space. To make things easier for you, we’ve given you a comprehensive how-to below.

Steps To Follow Before You Start

Packing a moving truck isn’t a herculean task as it might seem, and a few tips can go a long way to making things easier for you. But, before we tell you about the packing bit, there are other things you need to sort out. Let’s start with that first.

1. Get Your Inventory Together

Very obvious? Not really, since there are many things that can go wrong here. Determining what your inventory will be can make everything easier, and we mean it. As you start the process, one of the first things you can do is downsize. Go through everything in your home and recycle, donate or throw out anything and everything you won’t need in your new home. Not only will this make your inventory smaller, but it’ll also help you start afresh in your new place.

As you’re downsizing, start making a list of everything that the truck will have to hold. While you do this, also approximately guess which items can be put into boxes and how many items might fit in one box. As you start doing this, you will soon get an idea of the items that can go in a box like cutlery, and the items that won’t, like a mirror or mattress.

Tip: Keep important documents in separate folders and have them in the front of the truck with you during the move, in a likely scenario where you might need them.

2. Calculate The Right Truck Size

A very important step when you’re taking care of the moving process yourself is determining how big your moving truck should be. You do not want to be worrying on the day of the move, because the truck size you ordered is too small to fit your belongings. At the same time, if you decide on a truck that’s too big, you’re just wasting all that space and that money

While the decision can be tricky to make, you’re capable of figuring it out. Truck rental companies usually give an estimate of how much a truck can hold based on the cubic feet. If that’s something you’re comfortable calculating, then go for it. You can also use Penkse’s Moving Truck Size Wizard to get an approximate of the space your inventory might occupy.

Rental companies also give an estimate based on the number of rooms you have. For example, Budget’s 16 ft. truck claims to hold two to three-bedrooms worth of stuff. Remember though that these estimates are an average and your individual case might be miles apart.

So, we suggest you call different moving truck rental companies and have them explain how much will fit in their different sized trucks. You can also ask for their advice if you’re unsure of your calculation. And, we suggest you always go a little bigger than you think, since that leaves room for error and it’s better to have more space than no space.

Truck Rental Tip: Ask the truck rental company if they provide a loading dock with the truck. This is crucial because it’ll help you get all the heavy appliances and furniture in the truck.

3. Gather Packing Supplies And Start Packing

Once your downsizing has been done, it’s time to pack! But, you need to have all the supplies in place like packing tape, boxes, blankets, plastic wrap, tie-downs, ropes and furniture pads. While you can buy these from any department or hardware store, many moving companies also deliver them to your doorstep, so don’t forget to check that out. You can also go the extra mile and buy recyclable boxes which are also sold by many moving companies like U-Haul, who have unique ready-to-go boxes.

When you pack, be careful to wrap all fragile items properly. Wrap glass and other breakable cutlery in clothes, blankets, or bubble wrap. Tape your boxes with packing tape securely, since you don’t want anything falling out. At the same time, while many people choose to keep their dressers full and move them like that, it can get quite a feat for you to load. A trick is to remove all the drawers with the clothing and stack them on top of each other in the truck separately.

Packing Tip: Give every room a color and use sketch pens or highlighters of those colors to make a mark on the respective boxes. For example, if the kitchen stands for red, put a thick red line on all boxes with kitchen supplies. That way, while you unload, all boxes can be directly taken to the room they belong to!

4. Dismantle Your Furniture

A very crucial step, disassembling your furniture can help optimize the space within your truck when you do start loading. You can do this with tables, bed frames, headboards, lamps and even Ikea furniture, only if you’re ready to assemble it again! Disassembling your furniture will also make sure that once the furniture is loaded, the weight will be balanced across the truck. Another trick you can use is rolling items like lamp bases within rugs and stuffing the ends of the rug with a cloth. This will not only protect the items, but it’ll also save space.

Time To Pack The Truck

It’s now time to get into the nitty gritty of packing the truck in order to utilize the space that you’ve paid for. We’ve given you a few tips for this purpose that can help!

1. Always Load Heavy Items First

You’ve heard multiple people say this, and that’s because it’s a very general but important thing to do. Not only does this ensure that smaller items don’t break by coming under them, but it’ll also give you an idea of how much space remains for all the other items. As you load the biggest and heaviest items, do so on opposite ends of the rental truck to create the right balance. Similarly, place them at the front near the driver’s end and not at the back close to the door.

They can be items like refrigerators, large dressers, washers, and dryers, or sectionals. For items that you want to take extra care of, you can purchase some furniture pads and attach it to the corners or wood surfaces. Also, remember to load your appliances and other heavy items in an upright manner so that it’s more secure as the drive starts.

Truck Packing Tip: To make things easier, get a four wheel dolly that’s meant for furniture to move all your bulky items around and get a two wheel box dolly for any kind of medium-sized boxes and items.

2. Next, Load Longer Items

Long items are anything from couches and mattresses to long mirrors, table legs, and headboards. Place them in a vertical manner so that they occupy as little space as possible. Also, remember to place them against the walls of the truck so that they can lean against something.

In order to protect these items, you can wrap them in plastic wrap or provide extra furniture padding around them, especially the mirrors. At the same time, don’t forget to cover your mattresses with mattresses covers, since you don’t want them to get damaged in any form during the transit.

Truck Packing Tip: To save space and avoid furniture damage, wrap the shrink wrap around furniture pads tightly.

3. Attach Moving Straps

Once you’ve loaded all the heavy, large and long items, it’s time to secure everything with moving straps. During transit, there’s a great possibility that items might shift from their places or start falling on each other. This is especially true of long-distance moves where the truck might have to maneuver through uneven terrains and sharp bends.

As you put all the heavy items in place, strap them in securely. Then move on to the other longer items and repeat the same steps. Finally, you’ll start loading the boxes and lighter items, and even though you might think they don’t require strapping, we suggest it’s best to strap them in too!

Truck Packing Tip: If there’s space between tall items or boxes and the ceiling, fill it with padding, blankets or linen to restrict shifting.

4. Finally, Load The Lighter Items

The loading sequence goes this way – first the heavy and large items, then the long items, then medium-sized boxes and items, and finally all the light items. When you start loading the lighter items, make sure that they go on top of the heavy appliances that are already loaded in the truck. You can also stack boxes one on top of the other till they reach the ceiling of the truck.

When it comes to items like smaller electronics or television, you have to be careful to wrap them properly, otherwise, they might get damaged. Putting them in the boxes that they were purchased in is the best alternative. At the same time, what you can do to avoid the items from shifting if you can’t strap them is to fill all gaps with uneven objects or cloth. These can be blankets, linen, cloth bags full of clothing or even hangers, and miscellaneous garage items.

Truck Packing Tip: Boxes that have fragile items should always be at the back of the truck close to the doors. Also always remember to label the box that contains them as FRAGILE.

Additional Tips To Pack Your Truck

  1. Ask your friends and family members for help on the moving day. Loading can be physically strenuous especially if your inventory is large and most items heavy. So, get as much help as you can to ease the burden.
  2. Before your moving day, you can create a floor plan for all the large and bulky items that you will be packing in the truck. Since larger items are packed first, having a floor plan for the truck in place at the start will help fit everything in an optimal manner and save time.
  3. Put boxes that you want to reach for first and other lighter items at the back. Like we mentioned before, heavier items will be at the front of the truck, so lighter items can be at the back so that you’re not faced with an avalanche when you open the truck doors to unpack.
  4. Your couches, especially upholstered ones can be wrapped in plastic wrap to keep them from a tear or other damage.

What should you not pack in a moving truck?

You should be careful not to pack dangerous items like ammunition and guns, fertilizers, oil or gas, cleansers with ammonia, and aerosols. Get a full list from your truck rental company when you contact them.

When loading a moving truck what goes in first?

Packing for a move can be tricky, but it is worth the effort. One of your first steps should be to load heavy items in front and place smaller things closer to the cab, so they don’t tip over when driving along roadways with curves or steep hillsides.

Place refrigerators on top as close to where you would sit while operating them; -Add another layer if necessary until everything feels secure about 3 feet off ground level (you’ll thank me later); then start stacking boxes up again!

Does it take longer to load or unload a moving truck?

It is possible for loading and unloading to be about the same amount of work. It depends on what items are being loaded or unloaded, how much weight is involved, etc. Loads vary in complexity, so it’s impossible always to know which task will take longer without knowing the specifics of the move – but it will most likely fall on who has more heavy objects that need to be picked up and set down repeatedly.

Can I hire someone to load a moving truck?

You can hire movers to load, unload or pack. The concept is simple: it’s generally more affordable for you (the customer) than paying full-service moving company rates!

How much does it cost to hire someone to load a moving truck?

The average cost of a local moving truck rental in America ranges from $120-$200. For long-distance moves, expect higher prices at around $1,500-$2,300!

Should you load boxes or furniture first?

The rule of thumb is to put the heavier items at the bottom, then add more weight as needed. In this process, you should place a layer of both around your truck and stack them up against any walls that might offer some protection from sun damage. Next, come pillows; use caution when stacking these next ones because they can get pushed out if there’s an earthquake! Place flat-bottomed mattresses between stacks with fragile furnishings placed amidst those too big for one box alone (like lamps).

Is it OK to not tip movers?

It’s not necessary, but for local movers, the tip is not included in the fee. So, we suggest you give a tip as an act of goodwill, since the job can be physically tough and movers do their best to take care of your belongings.

How long does it take to pack a moving truck?

On average, a truck that’s 24 feet long will take four hours to pack. This estimate is based on the speed with which movers pack and considering you don’t live very high up in a building. The time might increase if you’re doing it yourself for the first time or you live higher up and the movers have to use the stairs.

How much does a truck rental cost?

The cost of renting a truck can go anywhere between an average of $130 to $3,360 depending on five factors – the size of the truck, the distance, your location, the date, and the time of the year. Smaller cargo vans will cost much cheaper than if you were to hire a 26ft. U-Haul. At the same time, prices go up during the summer months as opposed to the winter months. Another fact you must consider is the additional costs that include insurance, mileage fee, taxes, gas/fuel costs, etc.

See also: Best Moving Truck Rental Companies in the U.S.


All set to move? While a move where you do everything yourself has its benefits, don’t forget to keep a track of the different things we’ve mentioned. If you require help, but still want to save some money, you can always just hire people to load things on the truck from a moving company or just to pack your belongings. This will definitely be more cost-efficient than paying them for a full-service move.