Making a move soon? Hopefully you’ve already checked out our hacks for packing furniture, fragile items, and everything in between; ticked your way through a few of our moving checklists; or even learned how to score some free moving boxes from our other articles on Containing the Chaos blog. Now, whether you’re all packed up and ready to load or if you’re just doing a little pre-planning research, we’re here to help you get your things in your moving truck or portable container — the right way. 

Read on to get your stuff ready to move in six easy steps. More of a visual person? Watch the video below to see these tips in action. (Skip to 3:30 for the loading tips, or watch from the beginning for some bonus packing tips, too!)

1. Make a plan before you start loading

After you’re done packing up (or even while you’re packing), make a visual map of how you plan to load your moving truck or container. Take into account the specific measurements of items, stacks of boxes, and any cushioning you’ll add while loading. Flag what you’ll need to load first, and have it ready, accessible, and closest to the door on moving day. 

Depending on the size of your move, you may want to also consider taping up the floor and wall of an empty room to match the measurements of the available space inside your moving truck or portable container to practice your Tetris technique. 

Another tip? Create an inventory of the items you’re moving and tackle two jobs in one go. You’ll have a list of everything you need to fit — and you’ll be able to cross-check it to make sure everything is accounted for.  It’s especially important to have an organized inventory list if you have multiple moving trucks or containers: Not only do you have more items to pack (hence the need for more storage space), but you also have more opportunities for items to get lost in the shuffle.

2. Create a protected loading path

Keep the loading process as smooth as possible by making sure nothing gets in your way — literally. Create a clear moving path to keep a flow going as you load. A good rule of thumb is to make it about as wide as the front door (or whichever doorway you plan on using to move your things out of your house).

Don’t forget to protect your path, as well. Move all of your fragile, dentable, or otherwise damageable things out of the way. And pave the pathway with flattened moving boxes to protect the floor — just be sure to tape them together so they’re smooth and don’t cause you to trip. Want some loading extra credit? Pad the door frame with blankets, clothes, or bubble cushioning roll in case you bump any furniture against it. Let’s be honest, we all do it, no matter how careful we are.

3. Load section by section using heavy, sturdy items as a base

Start loading your items to the back of the truck or container, and move your way forward in small sections. Create a solid base in each section by loading heavy, sturdy, and bulky things first, like desks, tables, and couches. Then work your way to the ceiling by strategically stacking items, placing heavier items on the bottom and lighter items toward the top. Standalone things like bicycles and tall lamps should be loaded last and secured to ensure their safety. 

Using a moving truck? It’s recommended to load the heaviest items in the area closest to the cab in order to maintain stability over the truck’s axles. It’s the opposite with portable moving and storage containers, though. Instead of loading all of your heavy items first, distribute the weight of your stuff evenly throughout your container.

Moving with PODS? Congrats! You’ve got the added bonus of our unique PODZILLA® machine, which helps to keep things level during loading, transport, and unloading — greatly reducing the possibility of damages. Another PODS plus? Our portable containers stay at ground level while you fill them up. No ramp = hassle-free loading. Just ask Michele over at Hello Lovely. She found it so easy to move her son’s belongings into his 8-foot PODS portable moving container that she didn’t even feel the need to disassemble some of the heavier, bulkier furniture pieces.

A happy PODS customer with his well loaded portable container
(Source: Sarah K. & Louis S.)

4. Pack it in tight

Filling your moving truck or container space up to the brim not only gives you more bang for your buck, but it also helps keep your items from shifting. The less space you give your things to move, the less they will, right? 

Now, don’t panic if yours isn’t filled top to bottom, left to right. Though you should aim to stack your items up to the ceiling and up against the walls as much as possible, it doesn’t always work out to being perfectly flush. Use smaller boxes and garbage bags full of clothes, linens, or pillows to help fill in gaps — and also create a little extra padded protection. 

Learning how to load a moving truck is an important part of protecting your belongings during your move.

5. Secure everything as you go

If your moving truck or moving container rental doesn’t include ratchet straps or ties, it’s 100% worth getting some. We don’t have to tell you how dangerous it can be to open the door and be greeted with a waterfall of perfectly placed items that have slightly shifted during transport. Keep an eye out for hooks on the walls of your truck or container. These are your anchors. As you load, use them to create an “X” across the back of each section with straps or ropes so everything stays snugly — and safely — in place. 

Not sure what or where else to secure? Try and think about how the contents might respond to repeated or sudden braking and bumps in the road. Secure any individual items and sections accordingly. 

Pro Tip: As you secure the last few items closest to the door, tape together a few broken-down boxes to create a barrier between your stuff and the door. This helps prevent anything from falling in front of the door — and jamming it — during transit. 
Securing your belongings with a strong lock is just as important as knowing how to load a moving truck.

6. Lock it up 

You’ve packed it, loaded it, and strapped it in. Now, don’t forget to lock it up. Use a secure lock, like a strong disc lock. These usually come with two keys, so make sure to keep one key on you and the other in a safe place — but never give a key to the moving company or anyone you don’t know or trust. (Note: PODS will never ask you for this key.)

Packing for storage? If you’re renting a truck and moving the items into a storage unit, you’ll want to start loading the truck with whatever items you want to have easy access to in your storage unit. That way, they’ll be the last things off and can be easily loaded into your unit closest to the door. Why is a storage container a better choice than a truck? If you’re using PODS, we automatically include storage with every container rental. You’ll only need to load your things once, so keep items near the door that you want easy access to. Easy peasy!
a PODS truck driver with a loaded PODS container

Moving truck vs. storage container: Which is better?

Now that you have the 4-1-1 on how to load a moving truck or portable moving and storage container, get acquainted with the 1-2-3s of why you want to move with portable containers instead of moving trucks. Not only does PODS offer built-in storage options (i.e., you only load and unload once, versus multiple times with a truck), but we also have three convenient container sizes to choose from. And the best part? Our flexible delivery and pick-up scheduling means you can load up your container on your schedule, at your own pace. Did we mention it literally stays on your property until you’re ready for it to be moved? You can’t say the same about a moving truck. Now that sure takes a load off, doesn’t it? 


Katherine Alex Beaven is a frequent contributor to the PODS blog who has moved 20+ times because she loves to experience new places.