Throw out items you no longer need and trash - Go through all your stuff a month or more prior to the move and throw out the trash. Then take all the items you no longer have use for and have a gargage sale / yard sale and/or give them to your family, neighbors, Salvation Army, Thrift Stores and other places that can get them back into circulation. No point in moving junk and cluttering up your next place too.
Make a good backup of your computer files a week before the move.
Create a "Must Have Box" with things you will need upon arrival (medications, toilitries, towels, tv remote, current phone book, any documents needed to cross state or national borders with certain items, etc.)
Locally, our sanitation department will pickup large amounts of trash twice a year for free on your normal trash pickup day if you schedule them about a full week in advance. You might wish to schedule a special trash pickup if you are moving out.
When backing large trucks, be sure to watch out for trees, wires, and roof overhangs.
Be sure the ground is dry enough to support the truck. These units get stuck very easily.
Note - several of them have lights inside the trailer. They are controlled from the cab.
If young children are on the site, be sure to corral them before moving the truck and consider keeping them off the loading ramp and out of the rear of the truck. Plus do not leave them unattended in the cab (they may take it out of gear, start it, beep horn, lock themselves in, etc). If they are onsite, try to have some toys and a grandma to keep them busy.
If truck has an "overhang" (some storage in front up high) put books and some heavy items up there and tie a rope across them.
Put your "Must Have" box mentioned in our Before the Move section and any tools or other items you want to be able to access during the trip or immediately upon arrivel in the cab of the moving van, in the front seat of your car or in a locked room. Otherwise when people come to help you "load", they may mistakenly put them in with all your other stuff, making them very hard to find.
Put large items in front
Tie ropes horizontally across the load (between the truck walls) at various intervals to prevent shifting of contents.
Put heavy food storage items and book boxes on the bottom.
Put refrigerator or freezers at rear if you want to plug them in.
Put large mirrors and framed glass between mattresses
"Nest" couches (One upside down upon the other)
"Nest" chairs (One upside down upon the other) or stack boxes to a height that an upside down chain on top of them reaches the ceiling.
Use the furniture pads supplied by the rental truck firm (if there are any) to protect furniture and other items from being scratched. Wrap items in them, place them on top items, squeeze them between items. We often use flat cardboard for the same purpose. Some old refridgerator or appliance boxes from a store can easily be cut with a utility (carpet) knife into useful shapes and sizes.
Put large plastic kid toys and loose bags on top of load.
Put bookcases along the wall facing the interior of the truck and fill their shelves with small boxes.
Put pianos on side walls (with their back to the wall) and tie them to the wall.
Constantly be tossing / squezing bulky, light items (plastic flowers, Christmas decorations, pillows, plastic toys, blankets, etc) on top the load as you begin to fill the truck. This keeps them from taking up valuable room later.
Put bicycles, trash cans, bar-b-que grills, and hand tools at rear of truck. (Hand tools may be needed during journey). Run some rope around the various items near the back of the truck to prevent them from shifting (tie them all together a bit).
Sometimes bicycles can be tied up high on the wall of rental trucks either horizontally or vertically
Small flat tools can often be inserted flat against the wall between the outer wall and the inner braces of the rental truck. Just be sure to get them out before you take the truck back.
Keep any tools you may need at the final destination or during the trip near the back of the truck. You might also keep a heavy duty extension cord there. As per our earlier note, put them in the front of the truck before the move, or people helping may load them in the middle of the truck by mistake. Move them to the back of the truck once the truck is loaded.
Know how tall you are, do not be hitting tree limbs, low wires, etc. You will almost never hit them on the open road, but you may once you get off the main roads.
Make sure you have any maps and phone numbers you may need in the cab
Keep a flashlight in the cab
Have money or a credit card to pay for fuel, food, tolls, etc.
Be sure to put a padlock on the rear door. Many people get to their destination and find someone already stole their stuff. The "flat round" type that makes it more difficult to cut with bolt cutters (little of the hasp is exposed) might be the best for this application.
If you must park the truck overnight during the move, park it in a well lighted area observable from your hotel room if possible. Conside backing it against (quite close to) a telephone pole or a vertical wall/fence. This makes it much more difficult to remove large items.
Pull over on a sideroad into a parking lot if you need to look at a map.
When you need to briefly park/stop the truck try to do so in way you can drive out of the position vs. backing up (poor vision behind the truck)
Be sure if the truck takes diesel or gas before refueling
Make sure you are aware of the return policy times (back by 8pm etc) and hours the location will be open. Do not speed or drive hazardously to make those times, but do not lolligag and get caught by them.
Have a cell phone and phone book of your destination city in the cab.
Obey the laws, speed limits, towing regulations, etc
If you are caravaning with your family in a car, cell phones make the trip much easier (send them for food, you know when they are making bathroom stops, etc.)
Several of these trucks have a fire extinguisher in them. Make sure you know where it is and how to operate it.
Wash the windows when you get fuel if they need it.
If you left food in your refridgerator near the back of the truck, you may be able to plug it in somewhere overnight and again immediately upon reaching your destination.
You may need to pull the loaded drawers from "chest of drawers", load the frame, then reinstall the drawers. If you fail to do this, the top section may tear off or loosen from some lightweight or old chests.
When positioning a truck with a loading ramp, it is generally best position the truck with the ramp all the way to the ground. If you try to put the ramp on a step or porch besides being a little precarious, when you start to slide large items up it, they hit the roof of the porch or top or a door jam.
When moving large objects be especially cautious of hanging lights, low ceilings, and the top of door jams.
We have found area grocery and liquor stores to be excellent sources of boxes.
If it is an across town move, and we are doing it in several trips, be sure to pickup the packing blankets from the new site and return them to the moving site so they can be used again on the next load.