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Our Best Packing Advice (to Move Without Stressing)
Need to pack for your next move but don’t know where to start?
We get it.
Just thinking about how to pack for a move is enough to become overwhelmed.
Packing up your things efficiently can make an enormous difference in the quality of your move.
And yes, your stress levels, too.
Check out these top tips on how to make packing for a move easier.
Tip #1: Pack With the End in Mind
Our in-house moving expert, Norma, has seen it all when it comes to her long career in resolving claims from moving companies.
She recommends deliberately thinking about your move and your destination as you pack. This helps avoid frustrations with broken items, misunderstandings, or generally feeling worn out on your move day.
Before you start, ask yourself these questions to efficiently guide your packing process:
- Are these items packed to limit any possible damage from transportation?
- Can the top of this box be reinforced with chipboard so items inside won’t get crushed?
- Will I need extra supplies to pack this correctly without empty spaces (e.g. bubble wrap, packing paper, blankets)?
- Will I need this item up until the day of my move date? Or, can it be boxed now?
- Do I value or need this item? Can it be donated/recycled/discarded instead?
- What is the easiest way to make this item smaller and fit into a box?
- What is thick but flexible enough to protect this item in a box or during transportation?
- Where will I put these items in my new space?
- Where can this packed box be placed so it’s easily accessible at my destination?
- Do I have a supply bag ready for snacks, minor first aid, water, etc. for moving day?
- Can movers handling the box look and instantly know what’s inside and where it goes?
- Is each box filled with similar items of the rooms they’re intended for (e.g. toiletries in a box for the bathroom)?
Tip #2: Organize Before & While You Pack
We get it… You prefer to pack for your move by yourself because you’re simply more comfortable that way.
There are still some best practices you may want to keep in mind so your items (and your movers) don’t get mixed up. That will only be more of a headache when you have to unpack at your new place!
Here’s how to stay organized while packing so that moving and unpacking are easier:
- Create (or download) a packing checklist. This will help you keep track of what & how to pack, how many boxes you have, and any supplies that you need.
- Pack things room-by-room. Start with your least-used room first, and stick with it.
- Declutter while you decide what to pack. Now is the perfect time to sift through those unworn clothes or that kitchen junk drawer. Pack only what you want to keep; for the things you don’t want: donate them or have a garage sale!
- Keep track of smaller parts. As you disassemble certain items, put the small pieces into a sturdy zipper bag and label it (e.g. “For office TV mount”).
- Make a grab bag of essential items for a long moving day. Even if you don’t anticipate a long day, it helps to be prepared. Having things like snacks, water, toilet paper, and soap are crucial when you still haven’t unpacked everything a day after moving!
Tip #3: Deep-Clean Your Pet Supplies
Pet supplies—like kennels, doghouses, pet beds, litter boxes, etc— should be thoroughly cleaned.
Sure, cleaning pet items sounds like common courtesy (no one wants to move a scratch post splotched with hairballs) but it’s more than that.
Imagine that your movers arrive, ready to go.
One sneeze after another, followed by a fit of coughing suddenly overtakes one of your 3-4 person crew, until the poor soul is scrambling for his allergy medication.
Now, not only are you now concerned for the guy, but you’re wondering how his reaction will ultimately impact your move schedule.
You may think it sounds melodramatic, but movers are people too…
And, medical studies show that 10-20% of people have some kind of allergy to dogs or cats1.
Ironically, for us dog-lovers, allergies to man’s best friend tend to be more severe, more often. That’s all the more reason to intensively clean pet supplies before your movers arrive!
While we personally do our best to not match moving crew members with pet allergies to homes with pets, there’s no guarantee who will show up if you go with another company.
Tip #4: Prepare Childrens’ Furniture
Furniture and equipment for kids is usually simple to move if it’s also foldable.
Check the instruction manual and see if it can be folded for easier transportation and loading onto a truck.
Don’t have the original guide?
Look at the manufacturer’s website. They’ll typically have a downloadable copy or, even better: tutorial videos!
Even if a piece can’t be folded, most child equipment is easily dismantled with a few basic house tools.
You definitely don’t want to wait until the day before moving to find out you need something specific to dismantle, prepare, and transport your child’s things.
So if you can prepare and pack your kid’s items before the day of your move, it will be much easier for movers to haul it quickly.
Note about packing kids’ equipment:
You’re probably wondering if movers can just handle this for you.
Well, it depends.
A preteen’s bedroom furniture isn’t a problem for most movers to break down and pack up.
However, other pieces, like infant cribs or playground sets, are high-risk to disassemble and reassemble.
Because such items can vary so widely in their manufacturing and parts—and everyone wants kids to be safe—many reputable companies won’t even risk it.
Moving companies that do agree will often have you sign a waiver releasing them of responsibility in case something goes wrong.
For this reason, we recommend that you do one of the following to dismantle and pack kiddie equipment:
- Do it yourself with guidance from the manual; or
- Have a representative of the equipment manufacturer handle it
You and your family’s safety is the highest priority of any movers worth their salt.
And of course, you want your children’s furniture to be as secure as possible for them. So, unless everyone in the moving crew is highly experienced and specifically trained to assemble a wide range of kid’s equipment, this is the best method to guarantee a safe move.
Tip #5: To Move Faster, Pack Certain Items Yourself
Naturally, the more you have to move, the longer movers will take. (The same goes for when you’re moving without professionals.)
Whether or not you’re paying for moving assistance, you want your move to be fairly quick, and definitely painless.
If you have restrictions on when to move into an apartment or condominium, timing is even more crucial.
Specialty or fragile items will take more time to pack up. So it’s a good idea to start with those before your move day if you want to pace yourself.
Check out these tips on how to pack and prepare things that need a little TLC:
- Pack valuables—like jewelry, money, passports—by yourself. Trustworthy movers have policies to not move such items that could easily be damaged or lost. You can easily handle these by wrapping individual pieces in plastic, then putting them into a sturdy, lined box or a sealed, waterproof bag.
- Put cosmetics and toiletries into a plastic zip bag or case. If powder or liquid spills out, it won’t make a horrible mess as long as the bag is sealed.
- Disassemble lamps & items with multiple pieces. More complicated items with smaller, removable parts take longer to pack. Get a head start and keep the small parts together in a labeled zip bag.
- Pack light bulbs inside something hard- Wrap them—socks work great—and place into a sturdy plastic box (like a thick food storage container). Even if they somehow do get crushed, the thin glass won’t cut through and make a mess.
- Keep power cords and other adapters together. You’ll definitely need them at the new place, so why not just put them in the same box for each room?
Tip #6: Hire Professional Packers For Extra Help
If you are in a serious time crunch, consider reaching out to a local moving company that also offers packing services.
Moving companies, like ours, for example, may even offer partial packing services.
So if you’ve made some headway, but your move date is getting closer, hiring professionals to do your remaining packing can still keep your move on schedule.
Here are some advantages to hiring movers to pack for you:
- Your packing service can be personalized. Hence, the partial packing services. Yes, you can ask movers to pack as little or as much as you desire, or only certain rooms!
- Professional packers are experienced with a variety of items. So unless they’re rookies, they’ll intuitively know how to pack and move faster than the average person.
- Packers bring their own supplies. While you’ll probably have an upcharge for using a company’s supplies, your things will be protected in moving boxes and wrap of higher quality than a flimsy grocery store box or trash bag. It’s also a bonus if you don’t have the original box for a big TV or appliance!
Read More: What to Expect From Professional Packers
Tried-and-True Packing Tips for Moving
No matter what kind of move you’re having, some things never change.
In general, these packing tips will make your move easier no matter what:
- Schedule your move at least 30 days in advance. This gives you more time to plan, pack, and clean so you’re less overwhelmed.
- Get your packing supplies in advance. If you’re moving during peak season (a.k.a, summertime) it may be harder to find enough packing tape and moving boxes. You also want to ensure you have the right amount of blankets or bubble wrap for more fragile items.
- Do one room at a time. Focus on your least-used items in your least-used rooms first.
- Pack a little each day. This only works if you actually schedule your move well in advance. Otherwise, you’ll have to scramble to pack or hire help.
- Do laundry before move day. You’ll certainly want clean clothes and towels after hours of moving into your new place. Besides, clean towels will come in handy for packing…
- Use clean towels to pack fragile items. Wrap and stuff empty spaces using towels. Avoid using newspaper, which is too thin to keep delicates from breaking. Plus, ink can and will stain!
- Pack your cleaning supplies and snacks last. You’ll probably want to eat or spruce up your new space a bit while you unpack. That’s why we highly recommend having dish and hand soap, paper towels, snacks, and a box cutter or scissors in your own vehicle.
- Mark the top and all sides of fragile boxes. It helps to quickly and easily spot delicate packages so they’re not compromised when loading up the truck.
- Color-code & number the boxes for intended rooms. This helps those packing and unloading the truck know where your boxes go—which also helps them move faster (e.g. red for fragile, blue for kid’s things, boxes labeled #4 are for the kitchen.)
- Fold or vacuum-seal clothes in luggage. You’ll save space and use fewer boxes—and a suitcase helps protect your clothing. Don’t forget to remove any luggage tags that could get snagged during transport!
- Use wardrobe boxes or garment bags. Don’t like the idea of folding or vacuum-sealing clothes into a suitcase? Try wardrobe boxes or bags to keep your clothes on hangers. You’ll still need to put them inside moving boxes, but this makes it easier to pack and unpack!
- Prepare your major appliances 24 hours before moving. Taking your refrigerator and laundry units along? They’ll need to be disconnected at least 24 hours before your move day. Wrap them in shrink-wrap then moving blankets to prevent scuffing or slipping.
- Take inventory of your packed boxes. It’s not enough to make a mental note if anything goes wrong. Write down the number of packed boxes you have (a sticky note or app on your smartphone helps).
- Do a final walkthrough of your old space. Before taping up your last few boxes, make sure that nothing gets left behind. Open all closets and drawers, check the yard, attic, and above cabinets in case any last-minute things need packing.
- Set aside a space for packed boxes that are ready to go. Yes, it’s for safety. But it also helps if movers don’t have to do an obstacle course to load your packed boxes into the truck. It also saves you time, and in the end, money.
Packing Doesn’t Have to Be a Headache…
Much of the advice around packing for a move hinges on a simple concept:
Easy for movers = less money and time for you!
Doing it right can save you loads of time and cash.
So, if you haven’t started or simply feel like it’s too daunting a task, just follow these tips!
Even if you decide you don’t have time to use all of this advice and properly pack, that’s no reason to worry. Remember, you still have the option to hire professionals.
Will you use these tips to pack like an expert? Or, will you hire movers to deal with how to pack your things?
- Chan, Sanny K, and Donald Y M Leung. “Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges.” Allergy, asthma & immunology research vol. 10,2 (2018): 97-105. doi:10.4168/aair.2018.10.2.97