How to Pack a Moving Truck: Use Your Head, Save Your Back!
Moving day is not only stressful, but it’s also downright physically demanding. Especially if you’ve signed up for a DIY move that requires you do all the heavy lifting. Bending over to pick up and lift moving boxes for hours at a time is not your back’s idea of a good time (and probably not yours either).
But alas, moving day is all about picking up moving boxes, furniture, and other household items and loading them onto the moving truck. Then, of course, unloading everything once you arrive at your new home.
If you aren’t practicing proper lifting techniques, you might end up with a back injury and a pile of medical bills. These will soon cancel out all the money you planned to save in the first place by managing your move on your own.
Do what you have to do to get your friends to help on moving day; beer, pizza, and cupcakes come to mind. Here are some pointers to share with the group before you pack your moving truck.
Essential moving equipment
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re moving on a budget, or in a big hurry, it might be tempting to take shortcuts when it comes to packing. But don’t skimp on moving boxes and try to pack your pots and pans in a “grocery store” box or plastic tote.
Save some greenbacks by finding the cheapest moving truck rental in your town, and then splurge a bit for moving-grade boxes to pack heavy stuff including kitchenware and books. Place books in small boxes because they’re heavy, and create a much weightier box than you might imagine.
Moving dolly or hand truck?
Pay a little extra and rent a dolly or a hand truck unless you already own one of these must-haves on moving day. Piling boxes on a dolly and wheeling them onto the moving truck is a lot easier than carrying them one by one.
If you’re bringing your appliances too, rent an appliance dolly; it will serve two purposes by helping you transport the heavier boxes. Not only will a hand truck or dolly save you a lot of time, but they will also save your back.
Your body’s safe lifting zone
The most recommended way to lift heavy furniture and moving boxes is to keep them between the knees and shoulders. If you’re placing a box or item above your shoulders, use a stool or ladder and be very conscious of your posture as you lift.
If your shoulders start to scrunch up underneath your ears, then it’s a clear sign that the box is too heavy and you need to get help.
Remember to lift with your legs
When picking something up off the ground remember to lift with your legs. Plant your feet firmly to get a stable base and tighten your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
Think navel to the spine as you scrunch in your abs. Keep the load close to your body and your back in its natural posture as much as possible.
Moving trailer or moving truck?
A moving truck is more expensive to rent than a trailer, but it has distinct advantages. For starters, you can wheel your items onto the truck using the moving truck ramp instead of lifting things into the truck.
The door heights for moving trucks range from approximately 5’7” high to 6’10” high. If you’re 6’2” rent a truck with a door opening that will accommodate your height so you don’t have to bend over every time you enter and exit your truck rental.
Whether or not you rent a trailer depends on the type of vehicle you have. Does your car or truck have a trailer hitch? If so, trailer rental companies will require that your vehicle is equipped with adequate hitch and lighting connections.
You’ll also need to consider the age of your vehicle, its towing limit, and how many miles you’ll be driving on moving day.
A small 4 x 8 cargo trailer from U-Haul weighs 850 pounds empty and has a maximum 1,650 pounds weight limit when fully loaded. Imagine bending over to load and unload 800 pounds of stuff into 3’1” x 3’5” door opening. Hmmm… maybe it’s time to hire a professional moving company.
And remember the moving day motto, if you need help, just ask!