So you’re moving into your new home. Now, between the planning, the cleaning, and the packing, you have to somehow figure out how to navigate a 26-foot moving truck rental. Let’s get this straight: seamlessly transporting all of your things from one place to another is much easier said than done.
But it’s not impossible! Before you load up all of your worldly possessions into a moving truck and motor off to your new abode, make sure you read our tips to make sure you’re fully prepared to drive like a pro.
Do your research.
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.
Step one: take the time to familiarize yourself with the turn signals, windshield wipers, lights, and parking brake – you don’t want to be looking for these tools at 55 miles per hour during a rush hour rain storm.
Other important notes to remember include:
- 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 credit card or cash deposit.
- 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).
- Know how much you’re storing or transporting. This 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.
Properly pack the truck.
As you’re packing your moving truck, you have three goals: one, to maximize the space given to you; two, to protect your valuable items; and three, to restrict the movement of items in the vehicle as much as possible. You’ve got this:
- 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 (and breakables) safe and secure.
- Protect your furniture!
“If you’re packing breakable items, padding is a must,” notes the American Moving & Storage Association blog. “That’s especially true if a box isn’t entirely full, as items can shift and break. What should you use for padding? Bubble wrap, foam peanuts, tissue paper or plain newsprint are great for wrapping bowls, plates, mugs and other dishes. Towels, blankets and comforters offer some extra cushion for packed belongings.”
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.
Know the height of your vehicle – and of your surroundings.
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 your truck, learn how tall the vehicle is and keep that in mind before driving under anything with a clearance restriction (note: you’re going to have to park your truck and walk in for that McDouble!).
Take caution on stops (and turns).
Your moving truck rental is not exactly going to handle like the family Subaru. Cautious speeds, wide turns, and slow stops are your key to safety.
“Driving moving trucks is slightly different from driving your vehicle,” says Derek Scarsella, a Life Storage store manager in Cheektowaga, New York. “Trucks have 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.”
“Always be aware that your moving truck is up to eight times heavier than your personal car,” adds Steve Conjerti, owner of Conjerti Moving Express. “It’s going to handle differently. When backing up, always have someone out of the vehicle to act as an extra set of eyes.”
Did we mention the importance of wide turns? Remember that the length and width of your truck will make turning a challenge. Allow a large turning area, keep an eye in your mirrors and flip on those turning signals early.
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.
Give yourself the proper amount of time.
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.
“Have a good idea of where each of your heavier and bulkier items will go inside your new house or apartment before you load the moving vehicle,” suggests Ethan Greenfield, Moving Tips contributor and relocation professional. “The best course of action is to have a reliable floor plan of your new place before the actual relocation. Otherwise, you could lose a great amount of time and nerves figuring out where exactly each furniture piece or household appliance will go.”
Complete your 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.
“My big piece of advice would be to really do your homework on insurance,” notes Conjerti. “If you don’t, you could be paying big bucks to replace something as simple as a flat tire.”
You’re ready. But remember: we’re here to help.
According to a My Move Consumer Insights Study, moving was rated as more stressful than any other life event that typically involves pre-planning — like having a baby, getting a new job or getting married. With your stress levels already through the roof, it’s important to find a trustworthy, affordable company to work with.
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, including free truck rentals with any storage space rental.
What are some challenges you’ve faced while driving moving trucks? What are some of your top tips for new drivers? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.