Moving trucks are convenient but can be dangerous if they’re packed or driven incorrectly. These tips will show you how to load a moving truck and drive it with ease.

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There’s a lot to think about when you rent a moving truck. How big of a truck will you need? What paperwork do you need to secure the rental? How do you pack the truck efficiently and safely? These frequently asked questions are at the heart of what our customers want to know when they use our moving trucks.

Luckily, we know how to load a moving truck like a pro, and we also know how to get you from A to B without a hitch. Below are some helpful moving truck tips to consider before, during and after the move. We’ll first discuss the planning stage, then get into packing and finally, how to drive a moving truck.

What do I need to rent a moving truck?

things you need to rent a moving truck
How much time will you need to move your stuff?

As much as you’d probably like to skip right over this step, you need to have at least a bit of moving truck knowledge before jumping right into the driver’s seat.

1. Have your license and form of payment ready to go.

Life Storage can only rent moving trucks to licensed drivers over the age of 21. The driver of the truck will need to bring a current driver’s license, a valid insurance card, and a credit card or cash deposit.

2. Know how much you’re storing or transporting.

This insight will help to make sure you have the proper moving truck rental size. Unsure of which size to go with? Remember that it’s better to say you’re going to store more and not end up using that space, than to say you need a small truck and end up needing more space – or dangerously overloading your rental.

3. Figure out how much time you’ll need the rental.

Time management is key in this process. Moving trucks are assigned to specific time slots, so find out your location’s store hours and plan out how long you will need. You don’t want late fees if you happen to return later than you should. Planning and efficient moving are vital to staying on schedule.

4. Write out a checklist.

Ensuring a smooth and seamless moving truck rental process involves more than simply driving and handing the truck in. Make sure you’ve got the following on your radar:

  • Plan a route. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the route you’re taking and have your cellphone or GPS device ready for directions.
  • Fill up the tank. The moving truck (or van) will have a full gas tank when you pick it up – just make sure you replace what you use before returning it.
  • Set up the right moving insurance. Accidents do happen. Movers insurance varies from state to state, but a collision damage waiver is available so you can save yourself truck repair costs in the case of an accident.

How do I pack a moving truck?

how to pack a moving truck
Have a plan for moving heavier items into the truck first.

For a successful move, you want to be methodical with how you load the moving truck. Depending on the number of items, this isn’t a difficult process but can take a little planning. Resist the urge to send all your helpers into the house and have them randomly toss in boxes to the truck.

1. Consider these three factors.

  • Maximize the space given to you
  • Protect your valuable items
  • Restrict the movement of items in the vehicle as much as possible

2. Designate someone as the moving truck organizer.

Have some people moving boxes and furniture to the outside of the truck. Have another person that stays with the moving truck and is in charge of organizing it. They will sort items by their weight and delicateness. Give this person the following guidelines.

3. Follow these packing guidelines.

  • Use clean and sturdy boxes for your items.
  • Load large items first to ensure you have enough space to move around.
  • Distribute weight evenly so the truck is easy to control while driving.
  • Use packing straps throughout the process to keep items safe and secure.
  • Protect your furniture with moving blankets and other barriers.

Read Also: How to Pack China for Moving to Avoid Breakage

Some moving truck rentals may provide blankets and dollies to assist with your packing, so check with the company when you make your rental reservation.

How do I drive a moving truck?

how to drive a moving truck

Driving a moving truck might be an unfamiliar experience if you’ve only ever driven small sedans. There are some simple steps you can take to make driving seamless and stress-free. Before you turn on the ignition, consider the following advice.

1. Learn about the moving truck before driving it.

  • Find important truck features. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the turn signals, windshield wipers, lights, and emergency brake – you don’t want to be looking for these tools at 55 miles per hour during a rush hour rain storm.
  • Read through the owner’s manual. Know the type of gas required and other truck-specific details.
  • Plan ahead. Before you operate the moving truck, be sure you’re familiar with your route, the rules of the road and the weather forecast (nobody wants to have their first experience behind the wheel of a truck rental include a surprise snowstorm).

2. Consider clearance and adjust routes as needed.

It’s easy to take clearance signs for granted – whether we’re pulling into a parking garage, driving under bridges or grabbing burgers from a fast food drive-through, we usually don’t have to think twice about the height of our vehicle. Until now, that is.

Moving trucks can sometimes be too high for these low-clearance passages, so you’ll want to allow for the right amount of overhead clearance. Before operating the rental, learn how tall the vehicle is and keep that in mind before driving under anything with a clearance restriction.

3. Take caution on stops (and turns).

Your moving truck rental is not exactly going to handle like the family Subaru considering that it can be up to eight times heavier. Cautious speeds, wide turns, and slow stops are your key to safety.

“If you come to a quick stop, remember that the items in the back are traveling at the speed you’re going – so give yourself plenty of time to avoid damaging your items.”

“Driving moving trucks is slightly different from driving your vehicle,” says Derek Scarsella, a Life Storage store manager in Cheektowaga, New York. “Trucks have an automatic transmission, so you don’t have to worry about learning standard, but try not to abruptly brake. If you come to a quick stop, remember that the items in the back are traveling at the speed you’re going – so give yourself plenty of time to avoid damaging your items.”

4. Check your mirrors – often!

Unlike your everyday vehicle, you have no rear-view mirror inside of the cabin. In order to know what’s behind you or alongside you as you drive, you must check your blind spots regularly and continually track the vehicles around you.

You will also need to pay close attention to road signs – if you need to merge into a new lane, steer onto an exit ramp or move out of a faster-moving lane, you must know what’s in your blind spots.

Before turning the key, you’ll want to check your mirrors to make sure they are properly aligned.

Ask Life Storage for help.

Moving is stressful. With your stress levels already through the roof, it’s important to find a trustworthy, affordable company to work with.

free moving truck rental with storage
Life Storage moving trucks

If you find that you don’t have all of the proper space for your bigger belongings, Life Storage facilities offer protection and peace of mind during your transition to your new home. Ask about our moving trucks and vans for your convenience, available at most of our locations.

We hope this guide offered some helpful tips on how to load a moving truck and how to get it from A to B without a headache. Until next time, good luck and happy moving!

This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 11/20/15 and was revised on 6/15/19 to provide new information.

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at and Martha Stewart.

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