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Here Are the Best & Worst Ways to Pack Ahead for a Move

the right and wrong ways to pack to move

Trying to pack ahead for a move can be overwhelming. Depending on how many things you own, you may even feel tempted to procrastinate. 

But, packing all your stuff definitely isn’t something you want to do the day before you move—especially if you don’t know what to do!

If you’re wondering where to start read this guide for advice on right and wrong ways to pack before a move. You can also check out Episode 1 of our new video series, Master Your Move

As the first interview guest, Norma, one of our Moving Experts has a unique (and extremely useful) background in claims. She’s passionate about helping people simplify their moves and keep them claim-free by knowing what to expect and what to do. 

Read on to learn what and how to pack before your movers arrive.

After all, who wants to deal with broken furniture? 


Packing Do’s: Best Ways to Pack Ahead for a Move 

No matter how you plan on moving, if you’re not hiring packers, it’s a great idea to do some packing yourself. It’s equally important to pack correctly. This will reduce the chance that any accidents or injuries occur during your move. 

Here are the best tips for getting packing out of the way before move day—and doing it correctly so you don’t waste time or damage your items. 

1. Fold or Vacuum-Seal Clothes in Luggage

Movers will move practically anything (that’s not a liability or illegal). Yes, that means luggage and suitcases, too! Instead of fretting about what you’re going to do with your wardrobe, break out your travel gear and put clean clothes inside

This is extra important if you have any thin, beaded, fringed, expensive, or delicate fabrics to protect on your move as a suitcase is much safer than a box. 

If you have a vacuum-sealer bag system, you can get even more clothing into your suitcase. Remember to remove any luggage tags or attachments that could get snagged during your move. 

2. Towels Will Perfectly Wrap Dishes for Moving

If you’re pondering how to move bowls and dishes, simply stacking them in a box is not a good idea. Newspapers can often be too thin to keep dishware from rattling in a box and chipping or breaking. Norma recommends wrapping dishes in bath towels and marking the box as much as possible: 

“Definitely mark the box as much as possible. Usually, the top and the side of the box are best to mark… Again, the movers are going to move very quickly. They’re used to [our] packers labeling the box all the way around, right. So they just look at it and see what’s fragile…It’s good to make it very legible: easy to read, quick to read.”


3. Color-Code Your Boxes & Number New Rooms 

Whether it’s a bright permanent marker, colorful tape, or your kid’s school paint, color-coding your boxes can speed up your move. Crews find it helpful to know where boxes go based on their color labels, which helps them move faster (example: red for fragile items, blue for baby toys, etc.) 

Take it a step up a notch to also write numbers on boxes based on the rooms you want them in at your new destination.

Then, use a sticky note or wall-safe tape to mark the corresponding rooms with the matching box numbers.

4. How to Pack Plants for Moving

Legally, movers aren’t allowed to move any potted plants in the back of the truck.

“It’s under the Texas Department of Transportation Rules and Regulations,” Norma explains.

“We do help customers move them, but we just put them into their vehicles so they can safely get them moved.”  

If you have to move a potted plant, invest in a good floor tarp for your backseat because you’ll probably have to move it in your vehicle. 

5. Disassemble & Pack Lamps 

Lamps might not seem like a big deal until you’re paying movers by the hour and they have to stop and break them down. 

For more complicated items like lamps with removable parts, your move will go much faster if you break it down and wrap any pieces before movers arrive. 

6. Prepare Child and Pet Equipment 

Kiddie equipment is simply to move if it’s foldable, and disassembling child furniture before move day will make it easier for movers to stow it on the truck

However, there are some things no reputable, professional crew will move, (like cribs or playgrounds).

Items like these are too high-risk to disassemble and reassemble, mostly because they vary so widely in their manufacturing, parts, etc. Improperly reassembled cribs or play equipment can seriously injure children, so it’s not a good idea to let anyone but a representative for the child equipment company put these back together

Pet supplies—like kennels, doghouses, scratch posts, litterboxes, etc— should be clean and disassembled or folded if possible.

The cleaning part is especially important, in case any moving crew members happen to be allergic to dander from certain pets. 

7. Clear a Walking Path For Your Movers

So you already packed and have everything ready to go except the larger stuff? Great! The last thing to do before your movers arrive to clear a path so they can get to work. Besides being a safety hazard, having boxes in the way won’t make your move as efficient.

Moving crews tend to load the heaviest items into their trucks first, so it’s essential for them to have access to these and to the exits. Transfer packed boxes off to the side or against the walls of a bare area. 

The clock is ticking! So if movers have to remove obstacles that are in the way of your larger furniture, it will take longer and cost more. 


Packing Don’ts: Mistakes May Cost You Time, Money (or both)

Packing the wrong way can end up causing your move to move slower than average.

Improper packing can also result in damages during the move that would be prevented with good planning, materials, or techniques. 

1. Keeping Boxes Open 

Having open boxes is a big no-no. Why? Movers are coming into your home to work quickly. 

If you haven’t reserved packing services (which would be done before movers arrive), it will take longer to seal and stack open boxes. Professional movers don’t stow open boxes in their trucks where items could fall out and get lost, become damaged, or cause damages. Movers also may think you’re not finished and will be storing these items in your personal vehicle, which can lead to issues with how they load the truck. 

Either way, having unsealed or open boxes lying around will only slow down your move.

Try to disassemble anything that is oddly shaped and won’t fit in a box. If you need help disassembling or wrapping an item, ask your movers!

2. Clothing-Cluttered Drawers 

This is a huge ‘don’t’, which many people, unfortunately, do a lot. Avoid leaving clothing or other items in drawers. Norma sums up the problem nicely:

“When the movers are tilting the dollies back and maneuvering this item, to where they have to turn it on its side. All the weight of it falls to the bottom or toward the tilt, and it causes a high risk for damages—not just to walls and the floors that we’re traveling through, but also to the actual items that are in the drawers. They could fall to the back, and depending on how delicate it is, it could break, jewelry could tangle and bust in the rails of the drawers… Clothing could tangle and damage as well.” 


You might think it’s easier than taking them all out and putting them back later… but that’s only true if your clothes or furniture aren’t damaged in the moving process. 

3. Not Securing Jewelry or Fragile Items

At 3 Men Movers, our policy is that movers don’t touch things like jewelry which can easily be moved by a client. It’s very easy for jewelry to shift, tangle, or get damaged when moving, so it doesn’t belong in the back of a truck with other heavier items. 

So we recommend that you move jewelry on your own and as delicately as possible. 

Movers will certainly tote jewelry cabinets, though. Cabinets or chests should be emptied to avoid any damage to the jewelry inside. Make sure jewelry or watches are cleared out and put in a lined or wrapped box that has a hard outer shell. 

It’s important that jewelry is packed tightly but gently, and that box is sturdy enough to hold up if it gets banged around in your backseat or trunk from driving over a pothole or braking abruptly.

4. Using Shrinkwrap or Bubble Wrap For Everything

Shrinkwrap and bubble wrap might be fun to play with, but they’re important supplies for packing your items. 

Norma advises that shrinkwrap should be reserved for:

  1. Movers to tighten their grip on smooth items like furniture and appliances. 
  2. It’s also good for keeping items protected from dust that often builds up in storage.

Bubble wrap should be for ornaments, figurines, thin glass items, or anything prone to chipping, shattering, or breaking. 

5. Packing With Boxes That Are Cheap, Flimsy or Missing Lids

Packing materials that are harder for movers to work with will slow down your move. If you’re packing yourself, make sure you have the right type of boxes

Grocery store boxes might be fine for food, but they won’t stand up to the tough job of moving heavier items.

Flimsy boxes shouldn’t be used for the big stuff! Most of the time, the items will end up falling out of the bottom when the box is lifted.

Your moving job will also take longer if movers have to wrap weak boxes or boxes without proper lids. 

6. Using Bags For Packing Instead of Boxes

Substituting bags for moving boxes will not protect your items when being transported. Putting pillows in bags is an exception, but anything that can go in a bag should go in a box

Bags also can’t be stacked like moving boxes. Stacking boxes properly is a best loading practice for movers, partly because it ensures items don’t bump or fall around in the back of a truck. 

Think your cool compartment bag is an easy fix to transport your wine bottles?

Let’s just say, you don’t want to bump over a pothole and find out what happens to that Pinot. 

Pack Ahead of Time for an Easy, Fast Move 

Packing before your move can save tons of time and headache, but only if you do it right! 

Follow these tips and you’ll have the smoothest move ever (not to mention your movers will adore you).

Why pack yourself when you can hire someone to do it for you? 

Our professional packers are skilled at not only packing and wrapping everything you need. They’ll even throw in free organizing at your new spot!