By Jeff Walker
So, you’ve made all your preparations, you’ve reserved your truck and moving day has finally arrived! Your Do-It-Yourself Move is coming together. Time to throw all those boxes you’ve been so carefully packing on the truck and get on the road, right? Professional movers have known for years that it’s never that easy, and loading your truck can be time consuming and difficult. In addition, if you don’t know what you’re doing, your items (and quite possibly you) will be a wreck by the time you reach your destination.
“The right tool, for the right job” is an old saying, but something that makes a lot of sense if you think about it. If you’re going to change a tire, you’ll need a tire iron. If you’re going to make a birdhouse, you know you’ll need a saw, hammer and some nails. So what do you need for loading your truck? A hand cart! Also known as “hand trucks” or “loading carts” or any amount of infinite names people seem to give these things, they do one thing: they allow you to stack several boxes on top of one another roll them up the ramp on the back of the truck and drop them off inside the truck. Most truck rental facilities will have these available to rent, just like the furniture pads, at a reasonable rate. They are worth every penny! Not only will you be able to load several items at once, your back will thank you.
Aside from fitting your entire life’s collection of belongings into an unknown number of 18”x 14” x 12” boxes, you may have any number of items that don’t make sense to transport in their current form. For example, while that kitchen table looks great in your dining room, you’ll probably want to make sure that you disassemble it for transport. Similarly, you may have a computer desk or bunk bed that you’d like to take to your new home. Transporting these items “as-is” takes up a lot of space on the truck, and taking them apart before loading them on the truck will be your best option. While you’re disassembling these items, put any screws, bolts and washers into a zip-lock bag and label the bag and tape it to the item, or put the bags in a box that reads “parts”. Make sure the label on each bag read’s what item the parts go with, such as “bunk bed” or “Kitchen Table”, so that you know all of your necessary parts are in one place and ready to go when you get to your new home.
If your current home has a garage, try staging (placing them ahead of time) your boxes there in the order you’d like them loaded. This will make moving day go a lot quicker and everyone will have a lot less work.
If you have enough help, and you’ve conned your buddies over to lend their backs in return for a case of beer, take the time to split them up into teams. Station one person on the truck. If your buddies aren’t happy with that person being you, put one of them in charge, but let them know exactly what your expectations are and how you want your truck loaded (see below), and you may even have to tell them “why”. If he decides to load the truck the way he thinks it should be done, you may find yourself loading it twice. This person is the traffic cop. They’re telling the people who are bringing items out to the truck exactly where they should go, and how they should be stacked. This is important, as we’ll see later in the article.
While your traffic cop is directing traffic from the outside, someone should be on the inside letting the others know what should go when. If this is your spouse or significant other, you will have taken the time to come up with a game plan in advance, so you both know exactly how the truck will be loaded, and what items should go out, and in what order.
Everyone else is labor. They will be moving boxes and items from somewhere inside your house, to the truck, or vice-versa, depending on if you are at your point of origination, or your destination. You may consider trading off jobs during the move so that people get a break, but make sure everyone knows how you want your truck loaded and in what order. Remember, moving is hard work, so make sure you have plenty of water on hand, and any food items that you will need to reward your crew for a hard day’s work!
Everybody has their own ideas on how best to load your truck, including your beered-up buddy who’s had half his case before you ever got started. In doing my research, I found one woman who organized their items by when they needed to come off the truck loading items that were going into storage first (so they would come of the truck last), while loading items that were needed immediately, such as towels, clothes and bedding last (so they would come off the truck first). Another article recommended loading heavy items first, to make sure they would fit on the truck. Yet another article mentioned loading up all your boxes first, maximizing your space, with the thought that if you had many boxes of the same size, you could stack them floor to ceiling, you could get the most out of your truck.
These approaches all have their pros and cons, but the best advice I found was a balanced approach to loading. Most importantly, distribute your weight evenly. The last thing you want is to have the truck tip on its side because all your heavy items are on one side when you hit that pothole in the road! In reality, that probably won’t happen, but it should be noted that your truck will be easier to handle on the road and easier to load and unload during your move if you distribute the weight evenly throughout the back of the truck.
Breakable items such as pictures and mirrors should be loaded between mattresses if you haven’t already wrapped them in furniture pads. Keep in mind you will have a limited amount of space for items in this area, so you won’t be able to keep everything between the sheets, as it were. Save this space for items with a high personal or monetary value, and be sure to leave space between items so they don’t bang together during your travel.
We’ve all heard it before, but it’s important both for your safety and your health. Lift at the knees, not at your back! Absolutely the last thing you want is for bubba to throw out his back helping you move your household items. Not only are you liable for his injuries, but you’re out a worker.
When loading the truck use the same advice you did while loading your boxes. Fit everything snugly together to prevent shifting and tipping during transport. Heavy, and breakable items on or near the bottom, while stacking lighter, less breakable items on top. That way, if something does fall or shift, it won’t break items beneath it. Depending on how much space you take up on the truck, you may need to rent or purchase packing straps to hold your items in place and prevent anything from falling during transport.
When loaded properly, you’ll have a nicely packed truck, your items will stay in place, and arrive at your new home in one piece. Loading your truck takes time, effort and skill, so put the same amount of planning into loading your truck as you would in planning your move.