We’ve all been there.

You pull up to your new house and open the truck hoping to pull out just what you need for a hot shower and an easy supper —only to find that all the things you don’t need are in the way of the things you desperately need to rest after your move.

So, what is the right order to pack your things into the truck?

First, be thoughtful about what you need.

Before packing the truck, ask yourself these two questions: What items will we need until we pull out of the driveway? What items will we need as soon as we arrive?

To help as you consider, here are the most common responses to those questions:

  • a couple of comfortable outfits and a couple of work or school-appropriate outfits
  • prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • medical devices like a CPAP, nebulizer, or wheelchair if applicable
  • some fundamental cooking and eating utensils (silverware, plates, bowls, cups, microwave-safe dishes, serving spoon, coffee maker)
  • pillows and blankets
  • toiletries – towels, washcloths, shower items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.

Now, be thoughtful about weight.

After you’ve pulled out the things, you’ll need right up until you move, and first, when you arrive, you can begin packing the moving truck.

You’ll want to pack the heaviest and largest items first, which include tables, chairs, big appliances, couches, sectionals, mattresses, bed frames, entertainment centers, and other large furniture. It’s helpful to disassemble furniture first as it allows you to utilize the space in the moving truck best. Take legs off of furniture, remove headboards from bed frames, and remove all drawers from dressers and side tables to prevent damage and make for easier stacking and packing.

Stand large furniture upright whenever possible to take advantage of the space up high and use the least amount of space on the truck’s floor.

Keep the heaviest items near the truck’s cab, and along the side, walls to help distribute weight evenly, and then strap them down once loaded to prevent them from shifting, tipping, or damaging other items in the truck.

Add the smaller, lighter items.

Smaller, lighter items are much easier to fit into smaller nooks and crannies on the truck so they can be last loaded. Label each box clearly to allow for easy unpacking and finding what you need in your new home, and be careful about placing fragile items.

Once you’re done loading the lightweight items, strap them down, too.

Finally, pack the things you need soonest.

Finally, pack the items you’ll need as soon as you get to your new home as near the door as possible and clearly mark the box, “First to unpack,” or something similar. It’s a good idea to keep medications in your purse or vehicle just in case a box gets lost in the move, or you’re separated from the moving truck at any time.