Young couple packing boxes to move.

Smart Packing Tips for Moving

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

Whether moving across town or to the other side of the country, having to pack up everything you own can be time consuming. That’s why we’ve created a list of packing tips to help guide you to a more efficient, organized and hassle-free move.

Whether you’ve bought a home or are moving to a new apartment, it’s exciting for a fresh start in a new space. But there’s still one thing to do before you can relax and enjoy your new humble abode — pack up your belongings and move in. Having to pack up everything you own can be time consuming. That’s why we’ve created a list of packing tips to help guide you to a more efficient, organized and hassle-free move.

To-Dos before the Move

Knowing how to properly pack is key to a stress-free move, but there are a number of things you’ll want to take care of beforehand that’ll help move the process along.

Get rid of everything you don’t need. Start your move with a preliminary purge — get rid of anything that you rarely or never use. Minimizing up front will help come moving time since you’ll have less to pack up and haul to your new place. And this way when you do move in, you won’t have a bunch of unused stuff taking up space.

Set stuff aside to sell. As the saying goes: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. During your purge, make a pile of things you could try to make a few bucks off of. Take your clothes to a local resale store or post them online. Have some old electronics or furniture you want to get rid of? Those can also be posted to a variety of online sites giving you easy access to make money right from your phone. Or, if you have it in you, consider hosting a garage sale, which can be lucrative if you have a lot of items to sell.

Now’s the time to hire your movers. Are you planning on using a moving company for the transition? Take the time to research a reputable company who’s licensed in your state. Understanding their terms and conditions is important: What services do they offer? Will they lift items that aren’t in boxes? Do they have a refund or damage policy? All things you’ll want to look into when hiring your movers. Also, be sure to give them a call about a month in advance so you have more flexibility to plan accordingly.

When to schedule shut-off times. Internet, cable, electricity and gas — you’ll need to disconnect from all of these prior to your final move-out day. Scheduling ahead of time keeps you from juggling the move and connecting with multiple companies.

How to change your address. About a week before your official move date, change your address (Opens in a new tab) either online through USPS, or head to the nearest post office and request a Mover’s Guide packet.

Where to get free boxes for moving. Acquiring moving boxes is another proactive way to make moving day much smoother. Some people recommend purchasing boxes specifically meant for moving, since they’re more durable. But if you’re on a budget, ask your local stores for any free boxes. Bookstores are also great places to go since the boxes books come in have to be strong enough to hold the weight of numerous, heavy books.

Start packing little by little. We’re all guilty of procrastinating every now and then, but when it comes to moving, postponing the inevitable is just going to cause more work come moving day. Once you know you’ll be moving, start packing up anything you don’t use that often. Things like decorative pieces, books, seasonal clothes — all things that can be boxed up and ready to roll for the movers.

How to Pack for Moving

Round up the moving tape, a couple of Sharpies and a whole lot of bubble wrap — it’s time to get down to business. Having a packing game plan in place is key to a streamlined move, and these packing tips will help.

Pack room to room. Staying organized is your key to success when packing to move. It’s easy to jump from one room to the next eliminating the easy stuff first, but try sticking to one room at time to avoid mixing items from different rooms. Instead, knock out a full room one at a time. This’ll also give you a sense of accomplishment that progress has been made.

Label your boxes. This one is a no brainer. Labeling your boxes is going to make everything from packing, to moving, to unpacking all the more efficient. Make use of those Sharpies and clearly label each box by room and category. For example, Kitchen, Plates, or Master Bedroom, Bed Sheets. You can create a number system with an excel sheet or Google doc that lists every item in the box, and then assign the box a number. This way, if you need to unpack something right away, you know exactly which box to look in.

Load and unload boxes from the same rooms together. Labeling boxes keeps everything organized per room, but to really keep things efficient, load everything from one room at the same time, as well as unload all the boxes right to the room they belong.

Use packing tape. Packing tape secures the boxes much better than using the interlocking fold method. Use the clear, heavy-duty tape you’d find at the post office.

How to pack dishes for moving. Chances are your kitchen is comprised of some of the most breakable items in your home, so it’s important to be extra cautious about how you move them. Avoid stacking your plates and bowls horizontally and instead wrap them in packing paper and place them on their sides vertically (like records). This will help them avoid cracking or breaking. Placing a Styrofoam plate between each dish is another way to keep them from breaking. To transport your glassware, wrap them in packing paper, or for a more environmentally friendly way, in clothes and towels.

How to pack clothes for moving. There are many effective ways to pack your clothes for moving, but here are a few we’ve found work well:

  • Wrap hanging clothes in groups of 10-15 by tying the hangers together and covering them with garbage bags. This way makes it easy to move clothes without having to take them off hangers and put them in boxes. Simply hang the grouping in your new closet, untie the hangers, remove the garbage bag and you’ll be good to go!
  • If you’re hiring movers who are used to working with heavy furniture, you can get away with leaving clothes in your dresser. Just seal the doors so they don’t fly open when being moved.
  • Use travel luggage with wheels, and make more space by rolling your clothes into small bundles. You can borrow suitcases from friends and family and get a lot of clothes moved in this way.

How to pack fragile items. You have that bubble wrap handy, right? Wrap up each fragile item separately and put it in a box with either packing paper or a blanket for extra cushioning.

Keep Ziploc bags handy. Small bags are useful for when you have screws, brackets or other small items that could easily get lost.

Keep your toiletries from leaking. To prevent your toiletries from leaking mid-move, cover the tops with saran wrap. Just unscrew the top of the bottle, cover the opening with saran wrap and screw the lid back on. No messy shampoo leaks for you to clean up!

Load the furniture first. If you have movers helping, they should already be Tetris pros and know the best way to fill the truck. But if you’re moving everything yourself, put the heaviest furniture in first followed by lighter furniture and boxes.

Don’t let packing be a daunting task. Stay organized, refrain from procrastinating and remember that soon enough you’ll be in a new space you can call your own! Once you’re finished moving, make sure you have personal property coverage in place to protect the things you worked so hard to haul from point A to point B.

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