(BPT) - There's no traveling light when you're moving into a dorm room; college calls for a lot of stuff. Smart storage options can help you find a place for everything once you're there, but transporting your belongings from home to a far-off campus - or even one close to home - can be a challenge, whether you're doing it for the first time or the third.
Many families with college-bound dorm-dwellers rent a moving truck to make the job easier.
'We definitely see a spike in rentals in later summer, as college students return to their campus residences,' says Don Mikes, senior vice president of rental for Penske Truck Leasing. 'Moving everything in a rented truck is a lot easier than packing stuff into multiple personal vehicles.'
Mikes offers some tips for packing a rental truck with everything you'll need for college:
* Be realistic about what you'll really need. You may be tempted to take every piece of clothing, pair of shoes and favorite book you own, but will you really need all that? And more importantly, will it all fit in a dorm room that you'll likely be sharing with at least one other person? Probably not. Pare down to what you'll need most, such as clothes and shoes you wear all the time. Many colleges also provide students with a checklist of essential items that you can use to trim down what you're taking.
* Pack in stages. If you wait to the last minute to try to pack everything, you'll create stress and confusion. Start early by packing things you'll need at college but don't necessarily need at home, like extra-long sheets, towels, bath accessories, etc. Use sturdy boxes that aren't too large to handle, and use foam pellets and bubble wrap to protect fragile items. Seal boxes with packing tape and use a marker to label each with its contents. Keep one box open for last-minute items; that box will go on the truck last. Along with your rental truck, you can get moving blankets and hand trucks to make the move easier.
* Label wisely as you go. Put your name on the box (in case it gets separated from you) and a general list of the contents. Make an inventory list of all your boxes and what's in them. Remember, thousands of kids will be moving in at the same time you are, and unlabeled boxes can easily get lost in the confusion.
* Plan ahead - far ahead. Truck rental companies get busy during back-to-school season, so reserve your truck at least two weeks in advance of moving day. Delaying could leave you without the transportation you need. For most college moves, a 12- or 16-foot truck will do the trick. For help selecting the right size truck for your move, visit www.PenskeTruckRental.com.
* Drive safely. Driving a truck can take some getting used to; they're taller, wider and heavier than your car or even your SUV. You'll need more stopping distance to halt a rental truck, especially when it's loaded with weight. Beware of low-hanging tree branches and building overhangs, and give yourself more room to turn corners. If you have to back up, it's a good idea to have a reliable friend guide you from outside the vehicle. If your trip will require an overnight stay or a break in your journey, be sure park in well-lit areas, padlock the rear of the truck and lock the cab before leaving the vehicle.
Finally, keep important documents like registration information, dorm confirmation, your driver's license and credit cards with you - never packed in a box in the back of the truck. Stock up on water and healthful, energizing snacks to keep you alert, hydrated and satisfied on the road. You can find more moving tips at www.PenskeTruckRental.com.