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How to Pack a Moving Van

Rhydian Ball
Written by Rhydian Ball
26th January 2018 (Last updated on Monday 8th April 2019)

Some people will choose to move home under their own steam rather than hiring a removal company to do the heavy work for them. This is a lot more common with flats and apartments where there may not be a large amount of contents to move between the current and new home. 

This can be a reasonable choice for some in this situation as it allows you to save a little cash during a time when cash is usually getting stretched. In this guide Compare My Move give you some tips on how to safely pack a moving van when not using a removals company to help you do so.

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This article will cover the following points

Technicalities Pack Large Items First Securing and Padding Your Items Smaller Sturdy Items Delicate Items Fill The Van First out, Last In


Let’s kick off by getting the really fun stuff out of the way: the technicalities of moving your home contents on your own. Although this can be a good move on your part, there are some challenges that should be considered before moving ahead with your plans. Below we run through these and give you some tips on how to tackle them. 

Home Insurance

If you decide to move your own contents it is important to check with your home insurance provider that your belongings are covered both during the move from the property to the van and whilst in transit to your new home.

If you were using a home removals service their goods in transit insurance will usually cover if any of the items were broken as part of the moving process. This is not the case when moving yourself, so this may come at an extra cost. 

Heavy Lifting

Undoubtedly some of the items in your home will be very heavy. For example; sofas, beds, mattresses, wardrobes and book shelves as well as large quantities of books are usually weighty and potentially dangerous to move.

Before attempting to move them make sure you understand the best way to lift heavy objects in order to ensure you do not injure yourself. It is also worth getting hold of items such as a dolly which will help you move the heaviest items a lot more easily. 

It Will Take Extra Time

When moving, time can be a deciding factor for a lot of your decisions. Moving yourself will inevitably take more time than simply using a removals company that are well practised and well-staffed to help you move a lot more quickly. This is because there will be many people to hand when using a removals company and it is within their interest to get a move done as quickly and efficiently as possible, with the experience and expertise to back this up.

It is important to factor this additional time into your plans for moving such as the date on which you agree to have left the property.

Enlist The Help of Extra People

Ensure that you have enough people to help you move as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. This is important especially when moving heavy objects, but equally to help with the volume of contents that need to be moved.

Asking friends and family to help is a good way to do this cheaply, although it is worth considering the time they are taking out to help you and their availability at certain times during the week. 

Offering free beer, pizza and eternal love is a good way to convince those around you to lend a helping hand. Equally, people are often keen to help as they know then that they can call on you when they go through a similar challenge or move. 

Getting a van 

Getting your hands on a van can actually be a reasonably easy task. Asking your friends, family or connections if they have a van available for your moving day is a good idea to try and do this cheaply. Alternatively, you can often rent a van from the major car rental providers or hire a man-with-a-van who will be able to turn up at an allotted time and transport your belongings for you. 

Exploring a few different options will ensure that you get the best price when it comes to getting hold of a van. However, if you plan on renting and driving a van yourself, make sure you are both qualified and insured to do so. 

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Pack Large Items First

Now we have covered off a few of the technicalities of moving we can start to understand exactly how you can pack a van so that you can safely move your belongings to your new home. 

Starting this process, it is always best to move the largest and heaviest items into the van first. This can include large furniture such as sofas, beds, book shelves, arm chairs, wardrobes and even desk and chairs. When doing this is important to note any potentially breakable elements of these objects such as mirrors on wardrobes and protect them accordingly. 

Securing and Padding Your Items

Once you have the largest objects packed into the van then you need to make sure they are secure. This is key as these items are the most likely to cause serious damage if they are able to move about and fall onto and therefore damage other items in the van. 

This can be done by using rope or bungees to secure them in place. You can also use items such as mattresses, duvets and sofa cushions to pad them out and make sure that the rest of your belongings will not damage them by sliding about during the journey.

It is well worth going a little over the top with securing these items as the impact of not doing so correctly can really put a downer on your removal day. This is especially important for items that have a high monetary or sentimental value attached to them.

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Smaller Sturdy Items

Next in the van will be smaller, sturdy items. This can include objects such as white goods, boxes of books or clothing and any other items that will not easily be broken. The order in which these should be loaded into the van is from heaviest to lightest, making sure that the heaviest items are placed directly on the floor of the van where possible with the lighter items on top. 

Again, make sure that any elements of these items that are potentially breakable are well packaged and padded to ensure they are not damaged during transit.

Delicate Items

When packing you will certainly come across items that are very delicate. These may include antiques, china objects, glass objects and mirrors. These items are at high risk of breaking when moving so it is key to take steps to limit the possibility of this happening. 

Firstly, wrap them in paper and secure the paper with tape to give an initial layer of protection from scratches and bumps. Secondly give a protective layer such as polystyrene and cardboard to protect from bigger bumps and knocks during the journey.

When loading these objects into the van, make sure they are on the top with nothing nearby that may fall on them. Also ensure that they are secure so that they do not slide about during the ride.

Where possible, consider taking these items in a separate vehicle such as your car to limit even further the possibility of them getting damaged during transit. You may also want to consider using a removal companies ‘white glove removal service’ just for these objects if they are of very high value to you either in financial or sentimental terms. 

Claire Watson, 28th January 2019
"Quick, efficient and friendly service. Everything was moved with care. Great value for money."

Fill The Van

One thing you can do that will drastically limit movement in the back of the van when moving is making sure that the van is as full as possible, especially when it comes to the floor space. This lack of space will mean that items in the van will have less opportunity to move any distance that will allow them to create momentum and potentially lead to damage. 

This can be done by either carefully selecting a van at a size that will be filled by the belongings you own, or by getting hold of items such as old duvets, mattresses and even bin bags filled with old clothes that can be used to fill out any additional space in the van.

First out, Last In

When you get to your new home there will likely be a few items that you want to get hold of first. This may be practical items in terms of how you intend to unpack, or important items such as the kettle so you can have a quick cup of tea before you start to fully unpack the van. 

Make sure you know which items you will want first at the other end and pack them last so you can easily get to them once you open the van doors.

In this guide, we have given a number of considerations which should be taken when moving home. These range from the technicalities encountered in being prepared to do this through to the way in which a van should be packed both for convenience, but also to ensure that all your beloved items are kept safe and in one piece during the journey.