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How to Pack a Moving Truck

Moving truck on the street outside an apartment. Image credit: HandiworkNYC

October 2022

Hiring movers is certainly convenient, but it’s a luxury not everyone can afford. Most people just rent a truck and ask some friends for help. And when you go the DIY route, there are lots of online resources to help you with packing but not necessarily the actual move. What size truck should you get? How do you pack a moving truck to get the most out of the space? And how do you pack a truck to make sure none of your things are damaged?

Renting the wrong size truck can cost you more in effort, mileage and gas. A smaller truck may be less expensive to rent, but it can really complicate your move. The most efficient way to move is to make one trip. To determine the size of truck you need, allocate about 200 cubic feet of truck space for each room you’re moving. However, if you have some large pieces of furniture that can’t be broken down easily, it’s a good idea to overestimate slightly.

One important part of fitting everything in your truck is packing it correctly. Pay close attention to how weight is distributed, securing items to limit movement, and eliminating unused space by packing things closely.

  • Mentally divide the inside of your moving truck into sections. The section near the driver is for heavier items, the middle section is for medium-size items and boxes, and the area near the door is for small boxes and lightweight items.
  • Load your heaviest items first. This usually means furniture goes in before boxes. Place dressers, chairs, appliances, couches and other large items against the wall adjacent to the driver. It helps to disassemble large, bulky pieces of furniture like headboards and bed frames. Also try to remove the legs from dressers and tables if possible.
  • Place boxes into the truck second. Stack lighter ones on top of heavier ones to avoid crushing their contents. Place rolled rugs between boxes and furniture to save space.
  • As you load, secure items with moving straps or rope to keep them in place.
  • Fill the third section of the truck with light boxes and fragile items.

If you can’t bring items to the truck in the order you would like to load them, have your helpers leave them outside the truck grouped by the type of item (large and heavy, medium, lightweight, and fragile). Then once everything is at the truck, start loading.

One last thing to keep in mind as you load is to try balancing the weight side to side. If, for example, the left side is significantly heavier than the right side, it can make driving difficult and potentially dangerous.