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How to Properly Pack Your Car When Moving

Written by Jeff Collins of Moving Ahead Services
Updated August 19, 2015
Keep the size of your vehicle in mind when you are packing, as you may need to use smaller boxes to accommodate the size of your car. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Leslie S. of Millis, Massachusetts)

Before cramming your car full of boxes, learn how to utilize your vehicle's space for a smooth move.

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If you are planning to transport your own household items for a move, planning and proper equipment are essential for a safe and easy experience. Follow these tips to efficiently pack your car or truck. 

Prepare and plan

Start out by selecting your moving date and time needed in transit, considering holidays, time needed off work, school for kids and availability if you need to rent a truck or moving trailer. Holiday weekends can mean extra time off work for your move, but also may mean increased traffic delays and higher costs for renting a truck or trailer.

Next, take inventory of all your household items, furniture and appliances that need to make the move. This will help you decide if your personal vehicle will suffice, or if you need to seek out rental options. If you are moving long-distance, consider selling large items if it makes sense, and look into to purchasing new items or gently used at your destination.

RELATED: 5 Things to Consider When Planning Your Moving Date

Also, plan to have all of the appropriate moving supplies readily available for your move. This can include boxes, packing paper, tape, plastic wrap, moving pads, moving blankets, dollies and more. Having the proper moving supplies will ensure that your household goods are protected and will allow you to efficiently pack and maximize the space in your vehicle, truck or trailer.

Get the car ready to go

If you are able to use your own vehicle, double check to make sure it is up for the trip. Check all fluids, heat and A/C, and tire pressure. Keep the size of your vehicle in mind when you are packing up your belongings, as you may need to use smaller boxes to accommodate the size of your car or truck.

Car top carriers can provide extra space as well, and are well suited for clothing, bedding and other smaller, flexible items. If possible, use vacuum storage bags for clothing, bedding and other appropriate items. This can save valuable space in a vehicle or car top carrier and protect your goods in transit. Plastic containers can also serve as a great alternative to boxes and are reusable when you reach your destination. 

MORE: Moving Rules and Regulations You Need to Know

Packing your personal vehicle

Be sure to label everything clearly to ensure that you can efficiently load your items and unpack when you arrive at your new home. When it comes time to pack your car, it is a good idea to organize in your home first – prioritizing based on space allotment, as well as keeping items you need access to within arm’s reach and making sure heavy items can sit on the bottom of all your packed goods.

Utilize the trunk for larger items and fill in gaps with bedding and clothing stored in bags. Remember, it is always important to ensure you have a clear, unobstructed view out of all of your car or truck windows and that you can safely operate your vehicle without items shifting or sliding under the seats.

Hit the road

Planning, packing, loading and driving your household items takes work and attention to detail. However, if you do it right, you can save valuable time and money on your next move. The above guidelines offer some brief best practices and tips, but each move can be different and provide its own challenges. For additional information or assistance, contact a professional moving company near you!

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About this Experts Contributor: Jeff Collins is president of Moving Ahead Services, providing moving services in Willoughby, Ohio. Since 2003, Moving Ahead Services have specialized in local and long distance moves, packing and unpacking, truck rentals, storage and more. You can learn more at their company website.

As of June 17, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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