How to Pack a POD

We finished packing the POD late yesterday afternoon, an accomplishment made possible by a final burst of help from my dad and Linnie. Hurricane Hanna barely disrupted the overall POD-packing process, as most of Saturday needed to be spent inside packing boxes anyway. Yesterday we loaded the remaining boxes into the POD along with four bicycles and two bicycle frames. The unofficial Step One for how to successfully pack your POD should be “reduce the number of bicycles you own.” In the end, everything fit just fine (with room to spare even) and we learned a few things!

Here’s our step-by-step process for successful POD packing:

  1. Pack everything that needs to go into the POD. In boxes. Sealed and labeled boxes. Pack like you’re going to tumble the boxes down your street after they are sealed and labeled. Be sure to note fragile (oooh, it must be Italian!) boxes and boxes that have a specific end that needs to remain up.
  2. Buy a lot of rope. We used about 150 ft of nylon-poly rope for a POD that measured 8 x 8 x 16 ft.
  3. Make sure you know how to tie good knots. We used half-hitches, square knots, and modified figure eight knots. Our large POD was divided into four sections by 4×4 wooden beams that ran floor to ceiling and across the ceiling. Each beam had two eyehooks to use as tie-off points. You will need to use these tie-off points.
  4. Set all your stuff outside the POD so you can see it and get a good sense of what you have in terms of relative size and weight of various items.
  5. Visualize. Imagine your belongings packed all safe and snug inside the POD. Then imagine the PODS truck driver making a really hard turn at high speed, complete with squealing tires and major g-forces. Keep this image in mind as you pack your POD.
  6. Get busy packing that thing! If you’re feeling fancy, try to distribute weight evenly throughout the POD so that it is not heavier at one end than the other. We did not do this. Our POD was a lot heavier towards the back. The kind people at PODS assured me that it was fine, though.

    Depending on the size of your POD and the amount of stuff you have, you may or may not need to pack floor-to-ceiling. We packed floor-to-ceiling in the back section only, and then created a mega spiderweb of rope to hold everything in that section. The next section was packed within a few feet of the ceiling and tied-off appropriately before we moved on. Something to note about NOT packing floor-to-ceiling is that this enables you to access the eyehooks that are on the ceiling beams further back in the POD. We did this to help stabilize heavy items that could shift towards the front, less-full sections of the POD.

    Pack all sections except the last one and tie them all off securely, keeping in mind that contents could shift both front-to-back and side-to-side. Use light, fluffy, friendly items like pillows and comforters to fill in empty spaces (bag them first). Make use of the rods for your hanging clothing (we bagged ours in heavy-duty garbage bags for protection and ease of transport when loading/unloading the POD).

  7. Check inside your house to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Pack the items you forgot (hey, it happens) in whatever boxes are handy.
  8. Before you pack the final section, tie a longish length of rope to each of the eyehooks on the forward-most floor-to-ceiling beam on the left. Run the ropes out the opening of the POD. Pack the final section, leaving space on the right side so that you can access the eyehooks on the beam on the right side of the POD. Now use the ropes to secure the items in the final section and tie them off to the eyehooks on the right. Since our final section consisted of just a few boxes and a lot of bikes, we put the boxes one layer deep on the floor, creating a nook of sorts for the bikes. We loaded the bikes upright (alternating the direction they faced) and placed the extra frames and wheels in the very front. The rope was then wrapped around the bikes to hold them in their places before it was tied off.
  9. Do another final check inside your house to make sure you didn’t forget anything. Take the one last thing you forgot (it’s okay, don’t beat yourself up about it) and pack it into whatever box is closest to the opening of the POD.
  10. Get back in touch with your visual of your POD trucking across the country at high speeds, encountering potholes, reckless lane changes, hard turns, and quick stops. Is your packing job going to hold up to all that? If you have any doubts, do what you need to do to erase them now. Seriously, having to redo some of your work at this point will be more than worth the peace of mind you’ll have once you send your POD off to meet its uncertain fate. Not to mention the great relief you’ll feel when all your stuff arrives at its destination intact.
  11. Make sure that nothing that shouldn’t be inside the POD isn’t inside it (children, pets, your wallet). The sign on the inside of the POD recommends this, and though I think it’s a bit over the top (are you so disorganized that you don’t know where your children and pets are? Get it together!), taking a second to be sure of this can’t hurt.
  12. Set off a bug bomb inside your POD and close and lock the door. Really. We saw a roach wiggling around between one of the ceiling beams and the ceiling when we first started loading our POD. Having to deal with a seriously nasty roach infestation when we bought our apartment in DC made us more than willing to risk any toxic side effects from setting off the bug bomb inside the POD. If you have time, collect the bug bomb (and the newspaper you set down to protect all your belongings) before your POD is picked up for shipping. This is advisable so that the supposedly-empty bug bomb canister doesn’t roll around and leak any toxic goo during shipping.

That’s it! We won’t see our stuff again for 11 days, but I feel pretty certain that when we do it will look pretty much the way it did when we closed the door to the POD this morning. Of course, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to retitle this post “What not to do when packing your POD” and publish a list of lessons learned, won’t I?


  • Great tips and great writing. I learned a lot here. You made a lot of good points that will help me get through my first POD experience (which I’m anxiously awaiting!). Thank you for the lesson and the laugh!

  • I’m about to have my first PODS experience this weekend. What kind of bug bomb did you use?

    Thanks for this informative post! 🙂

  • Thanks for the suggestions, especially about the bug bomb; next time we will set one off on the first day before we even start loading…wish I had seen this post before loading our pod.

  • Very helpful !! Written like a professional with a touch of humor. Trist the move went well.

  • Thank you for the great suggestions. I do have one question what kind of bug bomb did you use??

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