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How to Pack a Moving Van

Rhydian Ball
Written by Rhydian Ball
26th January 2018 (Last updated on Monday 19th August 2019)

Some people choose to move house on their own rather than hiring a removal company to help with the heavy lifting. This is especially common with flats and apartments where there may not be a large amount of items to be moved from property to property.

This can be a reasonable choice for some as it allows you to save a little extra cash during a time when money is usually being stretched quite thin. In this guide, Compare My Move provides a few tips on how to safely pack a moving van for those who do not wish to use a removals company as extra help.

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This article will cover the following points

The Technicalities Pack Large Items First Securing and Padding Your Items Small and Sturdy Items Next Be Wary of Delicate Items Fill The Van Safely First Out, Last In Compare Removal Companies

The Technicalities

Let’s begin by getting the really fun stuff out of the way: the technicalities of moving household items on your own. Although there are a few pros to moving items yourself, there are also some challenges to consider before deciding whether or not to book a removal company. Below, we run through what you need to consider when moving items yourself:

Home Insurance

If you decide to move your own contents, it’s important to check with your home insurance provider that your belongings will be covered both during the move from the property to the van and also whilst in transit. 

If you were using a home removals service, their Goods in Transit insurance would usually cover this. Any items that were broken, damaged or lost during the process would be fully covered. This is not the case when moving yourself, so this may come at an extra cost to consider before deciding whether or not to use a removal company.

Heavy Lifting

Undoubtedly some of the items in your home will be very heavy. For example, sofas, beds, mattresses, wardrobes and bookshelves are usually weighty and potentially dangerous items 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’s also worth getting hold of equipment like dollies which will help you move the heaviest items a lot more easily.

Be Wary of The Extra Time It'll Take

When moving, time can be a deciding factor for a lot of your decisions. Moving yourself will inevitably take a lot more time than simply using a removals company that are well practised and well-staffed to help you move quickly. This is because there will be more people with the experience and expertise to lend a hand. It’s also within their best interest to finish as quickly and efficiently as possible due to other commitments and the desire for a great removals review.

It’s important to factor in this additional time into your plans for moving as it could greatly affect the time and date in which you have already agreed to have left the property.

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're both qualified and insured to do so. 

Enlisting The Help of Others

Ensure that you have enough people to help you move as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. This is especially important when moving heavy or dangerous objects or when calculating the volume of items needed to be moved.

Asking friends and family is a good way to find free or cheap help, although it’s worth considering the time they’re taking out to help and also their availability at certain times during the week.

Offering free beer, pizza or any other of their favourites is a good way to convince those around you to lend a 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.

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Pack Large Items First

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

To start this process, it’s always best to move the largest and heaviest items first. This can include large furniture like sofas, beds, book shelves, arm chairs, wardrobes and even desks and chairs. When doing this, it’s important to note any potentially breakable elements of these objects, like mirrors on wardrobes, and protect them accordingly.

Securing and Padding Your Items

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

This can be done by using rope or bungee cords 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 be damaged by them sliding during the journey.

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

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Small and Sturdy Items Next

Next in the van should be the smaller, more sturdy items. This can include objects like white goods, boxes of books or clothing and any other items that can’t be easily 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 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 that there’s no damage during transit.

Be Wary of Delicate Items

When packing, you’ll certainly come across items that are very delicate and need careful handling. These may include antiques, china, glass or mirrors. These items are high risk and can break easily when moved, so it’s important to take the necessary steps to limit the possibility of this happening.

Firstly, wrap them in paper and secure the paper with strong, adhesive tape to give an initial layer of protection. Secondly, add another layer using something like polystyrene or cardboard to protect from bigger bumps and knocks during the journey. It’s also important to label the boxes they’re in so that they’re not mixed up with other items and handled roughly.

When loading these objects into the van, make sure they’re on the top with nothing nearby that could fall on them. Also, ensure that they’re fully secure so that they don’t slide about during the ride. Where possible, consider taking these items in a separate vehicle to further limit the possibility of them getting damaged. You may also want to consider using a removal company’s ‘white glove removal service’ just for these objects if they’re of rather high financial or sentimental value.

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

Fill The Van Safely

One thing you can do that will drastically limit movement in the back of the van is making sure that it’s tightly packed. This lack of space will mean that the items in the van will have less opportunity to move any distance that will allow them to create momentum and potentially lead to accidents or damaged items.

This can be done by either carefully selecting a van with the appropriate size or by getting hold of items like old duvets, mattresses or even bin bags filled with old clothes, so that they can be used to fill out any additional space.

However, it’s important to know the difference between tightly packed and overflowing. You’re looking to reduce the amount of space that the objects can move, you don’t want to over fill the van. Too many items could lead to the doors jamming or even opening during the move, it could lead to items breaking from too much pressure or even halt the van altogether, causing delays. Secure your items but keep the weight of everything in mind so that it’s not over the van’s limit.

First Out, Last In

When you get to your new home there will likely be a few items that you want to immediately get hold of. These may either be practical or important items such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies or even the kettle so you can have a quick cup of tea before you start to fully unpack. Make sure you know which items you’ll want first and pack them last so you can easily get to them once the van doors are open.

Comparing Removal Companies With Compare My Move

Now that you know how to pack a moving van yourself, you may want to consider whether or not it’s something you actually want to continue with. It may be a cheaper option for some but it comes with a lot of responsibility. To help you decide, simply fill out our quick form and we'll provide you with up to 6 professional home removal companies in your local area. Receive free quotes and find out just how experienced the removal teams are before deciding to go at it alone.