movin' on up.
September 19, 2005 1:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm packing a 26 ft. U-haul truck in a few hours.

I'm thinking boxes first, in sections, stacked to the ceiling, and roped off, followed by large, mishapen stuff like appliances and furniture. I'm only moving 25 miles and can make a second trip but would rather not. Other loading/packing suggestions? Thanks! (I'm a little spatially impaired)
posted by mecran01 to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total)
If it's really a U-Haul truck you're using, I would document everything and keep a close eye on both the condition of the truck during the drive and my credit card statement. They are scum.

As for the packing, I would go boxes, then furniture, then loose stuff that you can wedge in between furniture and such. Good luck!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:17 PM on September 19, 2005

Boxes (light ones, especially) usually fit atop furniture and appliances.

I tend to pack mattresses, cube-ish appliances, and furniture first, sticking boxes in the nooks and such as I go along. All this is moot if your boxes weigh 200 lbs. each, of course, but if your goal is to minimize empty space, you gotta have something on hand to fill the voids.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:19 PM on September 19, 2005

Yeah, I second heavy furniture and appliances first, boxes and odd things last. Did it 3 weeks ago and worked great.
posted by tristeza at 1:24 PM on September 19, 2005

We moved recently in a 26' u-haul. Make sure you can get the washing machine and drier out first and into their final locations. Otherwise it'll be a PITB working around them (or trying to keep a route big enough for the W/D to get through clear).

Same probably goes for each large item. But we had most trouble with the W/D (loaded on first unfortunately).

Also REALLY make sure they check the fuel. Our truck had an incorrect fuel gauge that reported it was full when it was really 1/2 empty. On a 25 mile trip you should be fine. But don't let them f you over.

We loaded small valuable boxes (dvd, tivo, computers) in the overhang above the cab. Then book boxes other medium boxes. Then furniture.

GOOD LUCK. Moving sucks.
posted by schwa at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2005

Armour All the tires when you are done. U-Haul. Pfff...
posted by buzzman at 1:36 PM on September 19, 2005

Best answer: 1. Singing the tetris theme song while loading the truck helps your spatial reasoning skills.

2. The mattress/boxsprings are the long 4-block piece that goes down the side.

3. Big stuff first. breakable stuff on the couch.
posted by freq at 1:37 PM on September 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yes. Furniture first, then boxes. In general, you want to go from large, bulky items to small, compact items as you pack. If your boxes are the size of furniture, then you've got another problem entirely.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:45 PM on September 19, 2005

Think what happens when you slam on the brakes. That's why the heavy stuff goes in front.
posted by sageleaf at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2005

I have, over the past three moves over a dozen years, never had a problem with UHaul. I do nothing special: just sweep the truck out, fill the tank, and drop it off. But, then, this is in Canada, and two of the three moves were from the local UHaul dealer, so maybe it's a location-based thing.

My best advice on moving: pack everything into a convenient-size/weight box. I mean every single thing. I almost always manage to box almost everything, and I always find that the only annoying part of the physical move is the loading and unloading of unboxed crap.

If you can make most of your boxes exactly the same size, so much the better. It makes packing the truck even easier.

Get yourself a Hand-Held Mini Stretch Wrap Dispenser. It's the cat's meow for packaging all stick-like things and a good number of flexible things.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2005

Any furniture with legs which might be broken if you have to slam on the brakes should either be tied to the walls, laid on its back or top, or had the legs removed.
posted by Hobgoblin at 2:39 PM on September 19, 2005

We recently moved and hired a company to do it. Watching the two guys load the truck was VERY educational.

They (unlike most of the suggestions here) loaded the boxes FIRST. Then, the furniture went on. The reason was that you want the furniture to come off the truck FIRST and be set into place, so you don't have to move it around in the house. It just makes sense.

The secret to doing this successfully? Have a big enough truck that you can load the boxes (stack them high) then the furniture, with space left over.
posted by achmorrison at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2005

Yeah I agree with achmorrison. We got our 26' uhaul packed "professionally" (kids who put themselves through college doing it - we found them through which you get forwarded to automatically by uhaul if you rent online).

We had packed practically everyone into 1.5cu ft "book" boxes with a few medium and large boxes (I forget the volumes on those boxes). The boxes were packed first (with as I said previously fragile boxes on the overhang). Then furniture. The boxes were loaded and tied down very securely with good quality rope (not clothes line). They basically made a deep & solid wall of boxes to the ceiling.

As for emergency braking - all bets are going to be off. I don't imagine the order you load things in really makes much of a difference in an emergency, but I reckon the quality of the packing makes a difference.

As mentioned previously remove all furniture legs and buy some of that industrial sized cling-film to wrap around your furniture (you can keep cloths in your dressers and still manoeuvre them without the drawers bursting open).
posted by schwa at 3:03 PM on September 19, 2005

Of course you pack the boxes first. You have three walls against which to support them when you do that.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:19 PM on September 19, 2005

you pack the boxes in the nook, first ... you're not going to have anything else that fits in there ... these should be boxes that don't have breakable stuff in them

then furniture ... then place the rest of the boxes around, under, on top of the furniture

breakable stuff ... if you can't afford bubble wrap or peanut packing, wrapping lots and lots of newspapers around stuff will help

drive slowly ... 45 or 50

as far as the furniture going out first so you can put it where you want it, that's alright, but not necessary ... when you take the boxes into the house, put them somewhere where you won't be putting furniture and they won't be in the way ... the kitchen is a good place ... (just order a pizza ... no one's going to feel like cooking)
posted by pyramid termite at 4:26 PM on September 19, 2005

Boxes first, then furniture, then all the little-ish stuff that doesn't fit in boxes. Pay for the extra furniture blankets - you never have enough. Rent the big dolly.

Believe me you, I've moved enough and this is the way it's done.
posted by deborah at 6:04 PM on September 19, 2005

Believe her (deborah). This stuff about loading furniture first is silly: you can't build a stable structure on top of couch springs. Stability is what keeps things from becoming broken. Pack your boxes first, heaviest at the bottom, crushables/delicates at the top.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:23 PM on September 19, 2005

Also chiming in on the side of those who would load the boxes first.
posted by furiousthought at 6:28 PM on September 19, 2005

another tip ... there may be items that don't box well or break easy and you don't want to have them put into a u-haul with the furniture

if you've got a car, use it for those items ... even if you have to make several trips ... and if you can do it a few days before the uhaul move, you won't have as much to do on the big day

believe me, it always takes longer than you think it will
posted by pyramid termite at 7:17 PM on September 19, 2005

Also, as you unload, you will want to do the hard stuff (big heavy furniture) first and work down to the smaller stuff (boxes). A lesser reason to load boxes first, then furniture.

As you stack things, pay attention to what's in the boxes (you did label all your boxes, right?) and use grocery bag rules - no "watermelons" on top of "potato chips". Same for furniture. It might help to think, "Would I feel safe riding back here during the trip? Or is this stack likely to fall/collapse at the first turn or stoplight?"

Stretch beforehand, and use proper lifting techniques. It might not be such a big deal if you're just lifting a couple of moderately heavy things, but consider this: you're lifting and carrying every single thing you own. Twice. You don't want to hurt the next day, when you have to start unpacking and placing things - or worse, the same day, when you still have all your moving to do.

With a 26' foot truck, load balancing probably isn't too important - unless you own like, three grand pianos and a whole bunch of balsa wood. But if possible, try to keep the heavier stuff fairly evenly distributed - don't stack it all on one side. This could make cornering etc. a little difficult, as well as cause unnecessary wear on the truck - and if it breaks something, they'll probably blame you.

Don't be afraid to make a second trip rather than overload. If you've got too much big or heavy stuff to make a safe, stable load, take two trips - it's not far for you. (If it was far, I'd say bump up a truck size or two.)

You've probably already done your moving by now, but I'll post anyway, on the (off) chance that someone else might have the same question, find this thread in the archives, and benefit.
posted by attercoppe at 9:26 PM on September 19, 2005

Response by poster: I marked the tetris answer as "best" because it cracked me up, but these are all excellent.
posted by mecran01 at 9:43 PM on September 19, 2005

Pack a small bag with soap, hand towels, a snack and pain reliever. You will want to clean up when you're done, have a little nosh, and unless you are in super shape, take a couple of aspirins. You'll never find this stuff on the first day in your new place.
posted by Marky at 10:30 PM on September 19, 2005

Response by poster: additional thoughts, for a future internet archaeologist:

What I wish I had done (this was a very rushed move because a house came through for us at the last moment)

1. boxed everything
2. labeled boxes 1-5 based on weight, and then the room they belong in
3. bought more boxes
4. Not been so worn out and stressed from the house search that I had more energy for this
5. Cancelled *both* of my classes today
6. Begun packing three days earlier and helped my wife more with it.
7. Got that personal sticky wrap thingy
8. boxed everything

Things I did right, or should have done:

1. got the huge truck, which helped absorb a lot of errors
2. Used Ryder (couldn't find one). Uhaul trucks just feel like crap, and every franchise I've come across has been run poorly. Nobody is ever there, nobody answers the phone, out of boxes, feels like a pawn shop, etc. etc.
3. I pretty much stacked vertically, but we packed so poorly that I ended up using metal bunk bed frames as "vertical file separators" and then tossing odd shaped light things (large toys, big wheels, etc) over the top of theses improvised fences.
4. Should have bought a ton more rope
5. I'm making two trips. It'll cost me another $50 in gas and per mile payments (.69! ugh!), but it takes off a lot of pressure.
6. Totally networked with my church and we had three people rage through our basement and hauled everything up to the outside of the truck in two hours
7. Got a buddy who is mechanically minded who came after work and helped me do the weird/difficult stuff, like pull the door closers and fridge handles so it would fit through the front door. By the way, Steve Swensen of Eagle Mountain does great carpentry and installations!

8. Sold some exercise equipment on ebay that I hadn't used in three years. Got money for someone *else* to haul off my crap.
9. We're moving within two miles of my work, so I can sell our second car and take my bike to work for much of the year, and I'm two blocks from a bus line.
10. Didn't get in too many fights with my wife during a very frustrating process.

Left to do: take first load to new home, unload everything. Pack small second load, repeat. Sleep.

Again, thanks for all the good advice.
posted by mecran01 at 10:53 PM on September 19, 2005

This probably won't help mecran01 but I'll include it for general reference. The moving company that moved my dorm out of the World Championship Athletes' way, gave us plastic moving boxes, these are great, since they stack somewhat more solidly and you don't have to worry about packing them so much since they can take the weight of heavier boxes on top of them. And remember if you're using a trailer you have to pack the trailer so that it is balanced.
posted by lazy-ville at 3:28 AM on September 20, 2005

Response by poster: I am pointing friends who are moving to this thread, so this is all good. Thanks!
posted by mecran01 at 6:26 AM on September 20, 2005

Another important hint for future reference:

Moving house is the ideal time to get rid of crap.

Do Not Move Junk! If you haven't used it in two years, give it away or throw it out!

Moving house is the ideal time to right-size.

also, bungy cords are often better than rope.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 AM on September 20, 2005

And a business plan:

Box Rental. Plastic boxes are fine. Ultra-heavy-duty cardboard would also work. Plasticized cardboard might be best of all. Interlocking boxes would be incomparably great.

The boxes should knock-down for flat storage.

You'll charge $5/box, but refund $4/box when they're returned in reusable condition.

Lotta money to be made there, I think.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2005


the second "small load" consisted of trampoline parts, bicycles, garage stuff, some shelves, and in general that last agonizing 10%. We had run out of boxes, just threw stuff into the truck, it was a big nightmare. I so should have bought about 20 more boxes. Oh, and the cleaning took forever, and we were all worn to a nub. Then I had to drive back 25 miles in our minivan to get stuff that wouldn't fit because my partner freaked out and loaded a shelf in such a way that 25% of the van was inaccessible. "we're not going to make it! We're not going to make it!"

Now it's the next morning and we're all embarassed at how crabby we got yesterday.
posted by craniac at 10:25 AM on September 21, 2005

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