How to Pack a Moving Truck in 7 Easy Steps

Services for Real Estate Pros with Casual Uncluttering LLC
Last year more than 40,093,000 people, or 14.19 percent of the U.S. population, moved to a new home. Though it can be a fun and exciting time, moving can also be a lot of work. In fact, 75% of movers say that moving is somewhat, quite, or very stressful. Between organizing your belongings, packing boxes, and loading the moving truck, there are many aspects of moving that are overwhelming.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning an upcoming move, you’re probably starting to get a little anxious about the event. With the right resources and preparation, you can make your move stress-free and easy. The following seven tips provide helpful insights on everything from how to pack your boxes to packing a moving van.

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Packing Up Your Items

transport cardboard boxes with books and clothes, relocation concept

One part of moving is in the preparation, meaning how well you pack and organize your belongings. First, it’s important to note that you should wait to start packing until as late as possible so you don’t have to dig through packed boxes.

According to Max Robinson, Guardian Moving & Storage Ltd, “There’s nothing worse than having to dig through already packed boxes looking for an item, and the reality is that you’re going to need access to the majority of the items that you’re taking with you before you move home, so don’t pack too early – it’s simply impractical and a nuisance rather than helpful.”

As you start to pack, here are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure you are packing in the most sensible manner.

      • Use the appropriate sized boxes. Heavy items, like books, should be packed in small boxes, while things like linens, pillows, and light weight times go in bigger boxes.
      • Load the boxes by putting the heavier items at the bottom and lighter items on top.
      • Don’t leave empty spaces in boxes. Use clothing, towels, linens, or packing paper to prevent loose space unbalanced boxes.
      • Try not to pack items from different rooms together. Not only will it make packing easier, but you’ll thank yourself when the time comes to unpack.
      • Label each box with the room in which it belongs and includes a description of the box’s contents. You can also use numbers to label each box and keep an inventory in your moving notebook.
      • Label each side of the box. Lauri Williams of Casual Uncluttering LLC, says, “Always label all four sides and the top of the packing boxes. That way, no matter what side of the box you can see because of where it ends up, you’ll know what’s in the box. There were days I wished I could have labeled the bottom too.”
      • Put packing paper around each of your dishes and wrap bundles of five or six in more paper. Always pack dishes on their sides – never flat – and be sure to use plenty of paper to pad the top and bottom of the boxes.
      • If you’re moving valuable art, talk with your mover about special crating. Oil paints should never be wrapped in regular paper, but should be bubble wrapped and placed in a frame box.

Before you move, create a moving day checklist to keep things as organized and stress-free as possible. Want some ideas on what to include in your checklist, both 2 weeks in advance to moving day? Check out our article: Moving Day Checklist—Tips to Help You Prepare.

What to Use When Packing

Large puffy bubbles for package padding and protection. Closed shears with blue plastic handle. Clear plastic tape dispenser with serrated cutting edge. Horizontal view.

What you use to pack your belongings with is equally as important as how you pack them. Here’s a list of some of the packing supplies you’ll need to ensure you properly prepare for your move:

      • Packing paper is ideal when it comes to wrapping up glasses, plates, and other delicate items. Packing paper can also be used to fill empty spaces left in the box to prevent items from moving around and breaking during the move.
      • Bubble wrap is critical for wrapping fragile or delicate items.
      • Stretch wrap is industrial-sized plastic wrap and is great for large items that you’d like to protect during the move. By wrapping stretch wrap around things like dressers, tables, and other large items, you can keep out dirt, water, dust, and other potentially damaging elements.
      • Packing labels are a must. Not only do they make a mover’s life easier, but labels will also make the unpacking process a lot easier.
      • Packing tape is a lifesaver. Tape boxes well at the top and bottom seams of the boxes and make a couple of wraps around the edges.

“Stock up on moving boxes and packing supplies,” advises Galin Kolev of Fantastic Services.  “A great source for getting free cardboard boxes is your local supermarket or pharmacy. The traditional packaging materials like tape, bubble wrap, papers, labels and markers can be bought from a box/post shops or directly from a removals company. Always get a few extra boxes more than estimated, just in case.”

What NOT to Pack Away


Often times, when you rent a moving truck or van, the company will give you a list of blacklisted items that they will not transport. Along with the items listed, there are several additional items that shouldn’t be loaded into the moving van.

      • Fertilizers, weed sprays, and other gardening chemicals
      • Unsealed and perishable foods
      • Photo albums
      • Your mover’s contact info
      • Your alcohol collection
      • Important documents
      • A small tool kit
      • Things that need repair
      • Extra cash
      • Jewelry and other small valuables
      • Prescription medications
      • Pet food
      • Leftover gasoline

Experts also advise that you should create a “moving box” that holds all of the important documents and items you’ll need. “With all your stuff in boxes, it’s a good idea to pack a box with the essentials (toothbrush, deodorant, basic kitchenware, etc.) so you can quickly find what you need on that first night after moving,” says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBudda.

Pros & Cons of Hiring a Moving Company

moving storage truck has a lot of copy space for text or images right on the side of the truck.

Some people swear by hiring a moving company while others feel like movers add more stress to the situation. The best way to decide which option is right for you is to go over the pros and cons of hiring a moving company:

      • Pros: Perhaps the leading pro of hiring a moving company is that they minimize stress and are professionals at lifting heavy equipment, moving valuables, and loading the moving van. The additional labor and access to proper tools, equipment, and moving supplies will help ensure your move is successful. Ultimately, hiring a moving company will aid in the efficiency and effectiveness of your move.
      • Cons: The biggest downfall of hiring a moving company is that they can be a rather large financial investment, especially if you’re trying to move on a budget. People are oftentimes concerned that hiring movers will result in damaged or broken valuables or that they will be the next victim of a moving scam.

Regardless of whether you opt to hire a moving company or not, most professionals movers agree that obtaining full-value moving insurance is an absolute must.

According to Mike Glanz, CEO at Hire A Helper, LLC, “The most basic and most common form is Standard Repair Coverage Insurance. This level of insurance only offers $0.60 per pound per item towards replacement or repair. Heaven forbid the movers drop your 30 pound, $500 flat screen TV. With Standard coverage you’d only see an $18 check to cover your broken $500 TV. Most reputable moving services will offer another form of insurance, called Full-Value Replacement Coverage, which covers (just like it sounds) the full value of every item listed in your inventory.”

How to Make Moving Day Less Stressful


If not done right, moving day can be a catastrophe. By following these tips, you can make your moving day as stress-free as possible:  

      • Move on a weekday rather than a weekend so you’ll have access to banks, utilities, and other vendors just in case.
      • Make a packing schedule that spans over several weeks. By giving yourself plenty of time to pack, you’ll be better organized and prepared for the move.
      • Label everything to help you track your belongings during the move. This will also make unpacking a much smoother process.
      • Create a checklist after labeling your boxes so you can check off each room as you begin to unload the moving van.
      • Prepare an overnight bag along with your “moving box.” This will allow you at least a day or two to get organized and unpacked before you have to go digging for a change of clothes or toiletries.
      • Ask for help from neighbors, friends or coworkers and give your kids jobs too. The more hands you have, the faster and easier your move will go.
      • Don’t overwork yourself and take frequent breaks.
      • Set deadlines for packing and unpacking your house. This will help to break down the process into small, more manageable pieces and alleviate the stress.

Lastly, make sure that you hire your moving company or rent a moving truck/van well in advance.

“Don’t beg a mover to squeeze you into his schedule on the last Saturday in July. That’s when his schedule is most full and ‘squeezing you in’ might actually mean you’ll be getting his least trained crew, exhausted from 4 moves before yours, showing up three hours late,” Mike Glanz, Hire A Helper, recommends. “Request the first available start time of the day. This is especially true in the summer, when moving crews are slotted for up to five or six move jobs in one day. If your loading request ends up as their 5th move, even if you get the best crew in town, they’re going to be exhausted, work slower, and might even drop a thing or two.”

Loading the Truck


You can properly load and organize your moving van in four simple phases. First, gather the supplies you’ll need and be sure to check with the moving company to see what they provide. Supplies include:

      • Moving blankets and paper padding
      • Large and small stretch wrap
      • Mattress and furniture covers
      • Packing and moving tape
      • Tarp or plastic sheeting
      • Moving straps
      • Rope, ratchet straps, bungee cords, etc
      • Work gloves
      • Step-stool or smaller ladder

Next, you need to prepare to load the moving truck. Pre-planning reduces loading time, fatigue, and ensures your belongings travel safer.

      • Try to pack similar-sized moving boxes to help maintain the integrity of the load.
      • Ensure everything is labeled with contents and their destination room.
      • Wrap all unboxed items, upholstered furniture, wood or metal furniture, mirrors, and large artwork with paper padding, plastic stretch wrap, bubble wrap, or furniture pads.
      • Disassemble furniture like the kitchen table, entertainment center, bed frames, headboards, footboards, and dresser mirrors.
      • Remove shelves from bookcases, armoires, etc.
      • Put all hardware, screws, parts, and other small items in a sealable bag and tape to the piece of furniture or inside a drawer.

When it’s time to start loading the moving truck, you should start by loading in the front (near the cab) and work your way toward the end, being sure to load heavy things first.

The best way to load a moving truck is to place the heaviest items such as dishwashers, the stove, and heavy couches into the truck first. From there start packing the truck from floor to ceiling, with the heaviest items on the bottom and lightest items at the top,” recommends Kristen Fowler of All Connect.

You should also consider doing the following when loading your moving truck:

      • Remove cushions from the couch.
      • Place pictures and mirrors upright between mattresses.
      • Remove drawers and contents before moving desks, cabinets, or dressers.
      • Use ratchet straps, ropes, and cords throughout the process to keep your belongings safe.

Unloading & Unpacking

Pretty woman loading a full moving truck

In case you’re wondering, yes, there is a method which makes for a manageable, stress-free move. Some good news? Unpacking and unloading is considered by many to be easier than packing. Consider these helpful tips:

      • Before you start hauling your items in, walk through your new home to get a mental idea of where you want to put things.
      • Take a close look at doorways to ensure you’ll have enough room to bring larger pieces of furniture, and remove doors if necessary.
      • Make sure to prepare a safe pathway between the truck and the house.
      • Take wardrobe boxes out first and transport furniture to their applicable space.
      • Remove boxes and put in the labeled room.
      • Store away equipment and reassemble furniture

Once you’ve unloaded all of your belongings, it’s time to start unpacking and turning your new house into a home.

After you’re done moving, it is best to start the unpacking process with the bedroom and the living room,” suggests Sebastian Barnett of Best Move.  “It is recommended to leave the boxes with kitchen items last, because that’s the place with most items and you need to assess how to arrange the plates, pantry, cutlery, and everything else.”

By following these tips and expert advice, you can do your part in ensuring your upcoming move is smooth and efficient as possible. 

Published with permission from Simply Self Storage.


How to Pack a Moving Truck in 7 Easy Steps


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Gloria Valvasori, Accredited Senior Agent
REAL Experience | REAL Commitment | REAL Results!

Hi Lauren, what a very comprehensive list for moing day... Well Done !!Moving is one of the big stresors in one's life, and getting organized will help make this much less stressful..

Jan 17, 2017 08:19 PM #1
Carol Williams
U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business. - Wenatchee, WA
"Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services"

Wonderful, informative, post Lauren!  I would say knowing where the coffee is on that first morning after moving would be of utmost importance!  LOL  Thanks for the post!

Jan 17, 2017 08:54 PM #2
Carol Williams
U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business. - Wenatchee, WA
"Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services"

Oh, by-the-way, I have a picture eerily similar to your top photo.  Seriously... I took it at my cousins house and she wasn't even moving!   

Jan 17, 2017 08:56 PM #3
Deepak Chauhan MCNE®
Versailles Property - Irvine, CA
Yes, I will sweeten the deal

My way of moving and packing is, buy few cold beers and not interfere with the packers/movers. They know their stuff ... I know mine

Good post, big post. 

Jan 17, 2017 09:22 PM #4
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Lauren you make it look so easy:)) loved the first picture, I sold a Probate House that looked worse than that and all I did was take outside photos;))Endre

Apr 25, 2017 11:07 PM #5
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

A very comprehensive list Lauren, I got tired just reading it, good thing I do not have to move anymore.

Apr 27, 2017 05:27 PM #6
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Bob Crane I currently rent and would love to own again, but yup, that would then be IT for me. I've survived 3 cross-country moves and a bunch within each state where I landed. Enough is enough.

Apr 27, 2017 08:04 PM #7
Paul Chau
Supercheap Storage South Perth - Alliance, AB

Moving to a new place is a fun and exciting experience but the physical process could be overwhelming if not planned carefully and properly beforehand. Without prior experience, things could get out of hand even with enough manpower. Loading and removing the items to a self storage is one phase, and moving them again to the new location is yet another phase. Therefore, plan carefully before the actual moving day.

May 11, 2017 08:45 PM #8
Marcio Wilges
Platinum Removals - Sydney, AU

You want to know what is the easiest way to get packed for a move? It's hiring the removals packing team. Honestly I never knew that things could be loaded so easily in this manner! Every time I've tried to move house, we try to make the most of our cardboard boxes and try and estimate the right amount of storage space we need on the moving vans. Things change so much when you just leave everything to the professionals. If you don't believe me, I'd say just try it ONCE in your lifetime, you'll see very quickly why it's worth the money! 

Oct 25, 2017 12:15 AM #9
paul Kirst
East London Man and Van | MTC Removals We have a

Great article, very helpul with loads of information about moving and packing your house.

Amazing : To Do list also, Next I will move house with a man and van east london I will defenetly check this procedures.

 thanks for the author of this helpful article

Oct 30, 2017 09:40 AM #10
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

paul Kirst It was great fun contributing to this piece.

Oct 31, 2017 07:58 AM #11
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Lauren Williams, CPO

Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes
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