How to Properly Pack and Load a Moving Pod

Moving containers are a great option for cost-effective moves. Plus, you don’t have to drive a moving truck long distances! Making the decision to use a container for your move means you can do some of the work yourself, save some money, and still have your sanity come moving day.

As an average person, you’re probably not a moving expert. So, how are you expected to properly pack moving pod? It’s important to know how to load a moving pod, because an improperly packed pod can cause damage to your beloved items. And nobody wants that.

Today, we’re going to help you solve this packing game —kind of like playing Tetris. We’ll go over everything you need to know to correctly pack and load a moving container. How to pack a pod and how to load a pod are easy tasks to master with a few helpful hints and hacks. (Our moving cost calculator can also help you to better prepare for your move and help you to create your moving budget.) 

Let’s get started.

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What is a moving container

A moving container refers to a portable moving container, a storage container, a moving pod, or simply a pod.

Basically, this is the in-between of hiring professional movers and completing the entire move yourself. The moving container company will drop off the pod at your old home and you load it at your own pace. Then, they pick up the container, ship it, and drop off the pod at your new home. Since you’ll do some of the work and movers do the rest, this is also called a hybrid move.

For the best relocation experience, be sure to hire one of the best moving container companies.

Plan your pod move

Planning ahead will help make your moving day a seamless success, rather than a hodge-podge mess. Here’s a checklist for what to do before your pod move: 

  • Purge all unwanted items. You don’t want to wait until the day you’re packing your pod to decide about a household good.
  • Clean unpacked items like furniture and appliances, especially if your pod is going directly into storage. Cleaning these items at your new destination adds to your workload.
  • Pack your items in stackable storage boxes so you can create a compact and efficiently loaded pod. Bulky, odd-shaped boxes from the supermarket may be free, but they lead to a poorly packed moving container or shipping container, and don’t help you to use all available space in the best way. 
  • Divide all your packed boxes into piles: heavy items and lighter items. This will make it easier to properly distribute weight when you load the moving container. (Hacks and moving tips like these will make packing your pod a cinch on moving day.)

Load efficiently: best ways to load pods

Wondering how to pack a pod? Here we’ll show you the most efficient ways to load a pod so you can fit all of your things without increasing the risk of damage.

Create floor-to-ceiling vertical walls

Start at the back of the moving container and create floor-to-ceiling walls or tiers of packed boxes. Place heavy boxes at the bottom and lighter boxes at the top of each wall.

Moving pods have hooks or anchors throughout the container. Secure each tier with rope or moving straps to these handy anchors.

Think of leaving each wall you finish with a big X of braided rope. Complete each wall and gradually move to the front of the moving container. Leave no gaps behind!

Distribute weight

When it comes to loading heavier items like furniture and appliances, balance them evenly on either side of the moving container. Heavy items, like sofas or bed frames, all on one side can lead to dramatic shifts in weight and possible damage during transport.

Stuff the empty spaces

As you get closer to the front of the moving container, you may notice spaces between furniture and other odd-sized items. 

Fill these gaps with blankets and garbage bags filled with clothes or stuffed animals. The goal is to minimize space and movement.

The more tightly packed your pods container, the more secure the move.


Preparing furniture and appliances

Follow these steps before you load furniture and appliances:

  • Break down furniture as much as possible. Have rope or moving belts on-hand for tie-down items that you’ll need to secure.
  • Wrap furniture and appliances in moving blankets, bubble wrap, plastic wrap or stretch wrap, and pads to protect surfaces and provide cushioning to protect your items.
  • If possible, pack couches on their ends to leave more storage space.
  • Load heavy items along the sides of the moving pod close to anchors.
  • Secure your mattresses in mattress covers.
  • Secure all your heavy items with moving straps for zero movement during the trip.

Loading fragile items

If you can, avoid storing heirlooms and keepsakes or highly valuable fragile items in your moving pod. If you must, then follow these tips:

  • Carefully wrap fragile items and secure them within cardboard boxes to minimize movement. 
  • Pack these boxes into the tiers with other boxes, but marked as “fragile” so you take more caution during unloading.

Preparing your moving pod for long-term storage

If you won’t be unloading your storage pod right away upon arrival at its destination, take these extra steps to protect your belongings for long-term storage:

  • Add moisture absorbers to the storage container to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • If you think you’ll need to access the pod during storage, rethink your packing plan.
  • Place items you may need access to closer to the front of the moving container.

What can go wrong when loading a moving pod

  • You just start loading with no system. You run out of space and have to unload and start over. Think and plan ahead!
  • You pack all your appliances and furniture at the back of the pod and all your boxes at the front. The result may be toppled boxes and damage when you unload. Evenly distribute items and weight through the packing container for a tight load.
  • You leave empty space for last-minute items but never fill it. When you unload you find items have shifted and there is damage. Load and pack tightly. No space and no movement lead to a secure move.
  • You’ve packed the pod pretty tightly, so you don’t think you need ropes or anchors. During transport, vibrations can cause “wiggle room” to form and cause heavier items to shift. Secure every moving box tier and all heavy items with rope. Take advantage of the built-in pod anchors!

More loading and packing tips

Looking for more ways to make sure you know how to pack a pod properly? Here you’ll find even more tips to get the job done right.

  • Never pack perishables in a pod.
  • Always label your boxes so you can see at a glance what each tier contains.
  • Use specialized picture boxes for artwork, mirrors, and flat screen TVs.
  • At the entry of the moving container, place a large sheet of cardboard or flattened boxes to create a barrier that will prevent items from falling against the door during the move. This will prevent door jams when you go to unpack.
  • Always keep an itemized list of what you packed.
  • Keep your valuables and important documents on your person instead of loading them into the pod.

How much do pods cost?

The cost of moving containers depends on how much stuff you have, where you’re moving, and the timing of your move. In general, moving pods can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 or more. 

To get the best deal on your moving container, use a moving cost estimator where you can enter the details of your specific move. Be sure to compare prices from several moving container companies. 

For a quick breakdown on costs, check out our posts on the cost of PODS and alternatives to PODS.

The best moving container companies

Company Quote Rating Price
U-Pack U-Pack Logo Check prices
starstarstarstarstar 5 / 5
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PODS PODS Check prices
starstarstarstarstar 4.8 / 5
dollar sign dollar sign dollar sign dollar sign
1-800-Pack-Rat Check prices
starstarstarstarstar 4.45 / 5
dollar sign dollar sign dollar sign dollar sign

Now that you know how to pack a pod, it’s time to pick the best company to work with. Be sure to read through our guide to the best moving container companies to learn more about their prices, services, and offerings.

Some of the most popular moving pods companies include U-Pack, Moving-Place, and PODS. You’ll also find great container and storage options from 1-800-Pack-Rat, Zippy ShellU-Haul U-Box

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