Packing and Moving Tips

Plastic storage containers, empty, before a homeowner fills them
When packing for a move, create a staging area to organize items into categories. (©atlasphoto, Adobe Stock Photos)

Even if you’re excited about where you’re going, moving is never fun. But if you follow these tips, you’ll find moving easier the next time you and your family have to pick up and go.

Read on for tips on how to pack and move.

Old woman packs a fine china cup in bubble wrap before moving to her new home
Use bubble wrap to pack glassware in boxes or plastic containers. (©eddy02, Adobe Stock Photos)

Planning

  • Allow Time: An organized move can take a month or longer, especially if you’re planning to have a yard sale.
  • Find Transportation: Reserve moving trucks or companies well in advance. If you’re hiring movers, check references, licenses, and insurance policies.
  • Think Big: Don’t skimp on the size of your moving truck! The cost difference for a larger truck or trailer is cheaper than the last-minute expense and stress of extra trips or vehicles.
  • Plan Ahead: Figure out how you’re going to use each room in your new house and where your furniture will fit, then pack and label your boxes according to the room they’re for.
  • Gather Boxes: Stock up on boxes, totes, bubble wrap, packing tape, labels, and markers. You can never have too many!
  • Purge: Challenge yourself to see how much-unneeded stuff you can get rid of. As packing progresses, it’s tempting to just throw things in to deal with later; but it’s always much harder later!
  • Staging Areas: Set up one or more staging areas for packing and organizing. Save your back by filling boxes on folding tables or chairs, rather than on the floor.
An attractive blonde woman uses a permanent marker to label boxes before she moves into her new home
Carefully mark your moving boxes to prevent stress when you unload everything at your new place. (©David Pereiras, Adobe Stock Photos)

Packing

  • Pack Rarely Used Items First: If you pack off-season and rarely used items first, you can start packing earlier, and get the hardest part (like the attic and garage) over while you still have energy.
  • Pack Like Items Together: Line up boxes like a filing system; and put items in their respective category. This strategy helps make sense of random items that collect in drawers and on closet shelves. And grouping things together allows you to answer questions like, “Do I really need this much Tupperware?”
  • Limit Miscellaneous Boxes: No matter how carefully you organize your packing, there will always be that inevitable last box containing a collection of assorted items. While it’s OK to have one or two at the very end, avoid labeling anything as “miscellaneous.”
  • Don’t Trust Your Memory: If your electronics setup is as complicated as the space shuttle, be sure to snap a photo or make a quick wiring diagram before unplugging everything.
  • Treat Hardware Like Gold: When you dismantle entertainment systems or furniture, take extra care that the hardware, cables, and remotes don’t get lost. Place accompanying items for each one in a labeled, sealed plastic bag. Then tape the bag to the item, or put all the bags together in one packing box. Securely wrap and tape dangling power cords.
  • Pack Safely: Use plenty of packing material to keep things from shifting and breaking. Bubble wrap and newspaper are great, and you can also make use of extra towels, pillows, and bedding. Be sure to leave out a stack of towels and blankets to pad furniture in the moving truck, or rent plenty of furniture pads.
  • Label Everything: Each box should be clearly labeled with its destination room and basic contents. You may want to color code each room or floor. It also doesn’t hurt to number each box, so you can be sure everything arrived.
  • Immediate Needs: As moving day approaches, think about what your family will need in the first few days in the new home. Pack a small suitcase for each person, as well as a priority box for each room. In particular, you’ll appreciate having a kitchen box with first meal essentials, a box with clean sheets and towels for each bed and bath, and a logistics kit with important paperwork, phone numbers, reservations, cell phone chargers, and checkbooks. Label these boxes carefully and keep them where they can be easily accessed.
Moving truck with an open back door, revealing heavy items in the front and boxes in the back
When loading a moving truck or trailer, put heavy items near the front. (©Monkey Business, Adobe Stock Photos)

Moving Day

  • Move During the Week: If possible, plan your move for a weekday during business hours, so you can easily deal with utility problems or car trouble.
  • Plan Vehicles: If you’re taking multiple vehicles, designate at least one of them for “valuables” (ideally the one with the smoothest suspension!) This is the vehicle that will carry grandma’s china, Mom’s orchids, Dad’s flat-screen TV, everyone’s suitcases, your logistics kit, and anything else that simply can’t get broken or lost.
  • Load Heavy Items Near Front: Trucks and trailers will fishtail dangerously if the weight isn’t distributed properly. Start by loading heavy boxes near the front of the truck, followed by furniture. Put mattresses in last, so you can unload and set the beds up first when you arrive.
  • Think Tetris: Packing and moving is a lot like the video game Tetris – you’re trying to fit everything together so the maximum amount fits in the smallest space, utilizing every cubbyhole and corner. It’s a fun challenge, but don’t overdo it, so everything doesn’t topple over the first time you hit the brakes!
  • Pad and Secure: Use padding to keep furniture from getting scratched, and ropes or straps to secure each layer of boxes or load of furniture. That way, if one item shifts, there won’t be a domino effect.
  • Walkie-Talkies: If you’re traveling in a caravan, an inexpensive set of handheld radios is a lifesaver! Radios enable you to help navigate busy interstate traffic and check in frequently without having to call and answer cell phones.
Moving trailer on highway.
Be safe and drive carefully when traveling on the road!

Further Information

9 COMMENTS

  1. Moving into new apartments can be a daunting task for anybody, but with a little planning and some help it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Whether you plan on moving yourself or hiring professional movers,. Thanks for posting these moving and packing tips.

  2. Some good and effective packaging and moving tips include:
    Ordering a lot of boxes in various sizes, I would recommend to order fewer big boxes and more small boxes in order to pack your stuff smartly.
    Instead of using newspaper and magazine select special paper packaging, as this prevent ink stains which usually sticks over the objects during long distance moving.
    Do not forget to label your boxes so you must know which objects are present in the box and to which room those items belong to.

  3. Hi Thomas thanks for sharing these moving and packing tips. Moving with your expensive household goods is a daunting tasks especially when you have no moving experience or knowledge. So, its better to hire trusted movers to make your move stress free. They will use quality packing material and quality vehicles for safe journey. You need to plan your move ahead of moving day and make a checklist for packing all household stuff.

  4. Informative article! Some more tips include ‘defrosting’ your refrigerator at least 6 hours prior to the move. This allows condensation to be released and for it to not leak when in the moving truck potentially on to other furniture. This is just one helpful moving tip of many but your article fills in a lot!

  5. I really enjoyed the detailed information in this article! I moved to a new city for college recently and felt so overwhelmed, but this article along with the comments really helped! Thank you so much!

  6. Great blog post. It’s very informative post. Thanks for sharing this information with us. Keep posting and keep sharing like this.

  7. These moving and packing tips helped me a lot to find the right moving service for me. I was looking for such kind of article for the past few days and today I learned this article and got lots of ideas regarding packing and moving tips. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

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