6 packing tips to make your move easier
One easy way to save money on your move is to go through your items and donate or get rid of anything you don’t need. This means your load will be lighter—and if you’re DIYing your move, that could mean a lot less boxes to haul. You won’t have to buy as many boxes, and packing will take less time.
Start by selling, donating, or recycling usable items that you don’t want or need. Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are good places to sell your stuff, and some local thrift stores will come to your house to pick up large items for donation.
If your trash pile ends up full of larger items (like that ratty, old sofa you’ve had since college or the fridge that finally gave up the ghost) you might need help clearing off your curb. Our favorite junk removal companies can lend a hand, or you can rent a dumpster for DIY trash removal.
2. Get the right packing supplies
Having everything you need to get you through the packing process will save you from having to skimp on tape when it starts to run low or from running to the store for supplies right when you’ve hit your stride.
Here are a few items you’ll definitely want to have on hand:
- No matter the size or distance of your move, you’ll certainly need moving boxes in small, medium, and large sizes. Ask around to see if anyone has boxes they need to get rid of, or buy cardboard boxes from local movers or at the hardware store.
- Packing tape. Make sure you invest in quality packing tape to ensure your boxes hold up during the move.
- Bubble wrap. Packing paper, packing peanuts, and/or bubble wrap will help secure fragile items during the move.
- Plastic bags. Corral smaller items or keep games and toys organized with plastic bags.
- Sharpies or thick markers. Permanent markers are essential for labeling your moving boxes.
- If you want to go the extra mile in moving organization, pick up color-coordinated moving box labels to keep your boxes more orderly.
- Moving blankets. Moving blankets help protect furniture from scratches and dings while in a storage unit or moving van. You can buy your own, but check to see if you can rent them from your moving company, which roughly go for $10 to $20 for a dozen.
- Stretch wrap. You might be surprised how much a handheld stretch wrap wand will come in handy during your move. Use it to secure dresser drawers or keep items together.
- Mattress bag. Don’t let your mattress collect dust and debris during your move! Protect it with a mattress bag so you can sleep just as peacefully in your new home.
- Rope is helpful for tying down larger items in a moving truck. You can often rent tie-downs and cargo straps from a company like U-Haul.
- Utility knife. A box cutter or utility knife is great for breaking down larger boxes you don't need or for re-opening boxes that you need to access before the move.
- Furniture dolly. If you’re moving dressers or heavy boxes, a furniture dolly will help you get the job done without throwing out your back. You can rent a dolly or hand truck for around $20.
Once you estimate how much of each you’ll need, add 25%. It’s better to have slightly too much than too little. Also, note whether you’ll need specialty boxes for art, dishes, or glassware.
Finally, don’t forget tools for disassembling furniture and other assorted items like cleaning supplies, trash bags, and toilet paper (for easy access when the house is empty!).
3. Pack your boxes properly
Packing is both an art and a science. Learn the rules, and you’ll know when it’s time to break them in the name of convenience.
A perfectly packed box will ensure you protect your belongings, save space, and have an easier time getting everything into the moving van.
Here are some packing tips to get you started:
- Use small boxes for heavy items. Heavy items (like books, pots, and pans) go in smaller boxes to make them easier to lift.
- Use larger boxes for light items. Lighter or small items (like sheets and towels) go in larger boxes.
- Put heavy items on the bottom. If you’re combining lighter and heavier items, always put the heavier items on the bottom of the box.
- Fill in empty spaces. Never leave gaps in your boxes. Doing this could jostle your belongings or make the boxes unbalanced. Fill the holes with packing paper, towels, etc.
- Tape boxes securely. Be sure to use tape on the bottom and top of your boxes, then wrap a couple of times around the edges to keep everything in place.
- Invest in specialty moving boxes. Those wardrobe boxes and special boxes for moving art, televisions, and glass dishes may seem unnecessary, but they’re usually well worth the extra cost. They’ll better protect your belongings and ensure they arrive safely at your new home.
Packing can be a little tedious, meaning there’s an ever-present temptation to just toss things in boxes and get it over with as quickly as possible.
However, if you take extra time to keep your stuff organized at the outset, unpacking on the other end will be much more pleasant. Bonus: You won’t have to tear through everything to find your precious French press that you accidentally packed when coffee time rolls around.
The inventory system is a simple way to add method to the madness. It’ll help you manage what’s been packed in each box, know where the box needs to go in the new house, and determine whether it contains fragile items. You can also use it to keep track of valuable items and label your boxes.
We have a whole guide to preparing a home inventory, but here’s a quick summary:
- Make a spreadsheet. Make a spreadsheet or download a home inventory app on your smartphone.
- Number your boxes. Put your boxes in numerical order to keep better track of them.
- Track boxes. On the inventory sheet, note the rooms the boxes are coming from, the rooms they’re going to, the contents of each box, whether the items are fragile, and whether the items are valuable.
- Label boxes. Clearly label the sides and top of the boxes with the name of the room they’re going to, the contents of the box, and whether they are delicate items.
5. Try these packing hacks
The great thing about packing is that you aren’t the first person to go through it—nor will you be the last.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite packing hacks and moving tips from our moving experiences:
- Keep clothes on hangers. By hanging clothes on their hanger, you can easily pull a garbage bag over the top to keep them organized, clean, and tidy.
- Avoid spills. Put plastic wrap over the openings of all liquids before putting the top on to minimize spills.
- Pack an overnight bag. Keep all of your daily necessities packed in a separate bag or suitcase that you’ll carry with you. This travel packing hack is important! If there is a gap in your moving delivery time line, you will be happy you packed an overnight bag.
- Make labels visible. Label your boxes on the sides, not the top, so you can read ‘em when they’re stacked.
- Disperse packing supplies. Put the right amount of packing supplies in each room so you’re not walking back and forth as you pack.
- Protect fragile items. Use newspapers, old clothes, and packing materials to protect fragile objects in each room.
- Pack by room. Keep better track of your belongings by packing one room at a time.
- Don’t box up valuables. It’s usually safest to personally transport your most valuable items, including heirlooms, jewelry, and legal documents.
6. Recruit (or hire) helpers
If you aren’t hiring a packing company or professional movers, invite a friend or two to help you pack, put on a great playlist, and treat them to dinner afterward. You’ll probably enjoy yourself more if you have company, and you’ll have to spend less of your own time on this task.
Here are a few tips to minimize procrastination and maximize efficiency:
- Set a deadline or specific time to wrap up the packing process.
- Make sure people aren’t duplicating efforts. Assign only one person to each room, and give them specific tasks to complete.
- Visit each person every hour or two, bring refreshments, and make sure they have everything they need.
Don’t want to trouble your friends (Or don’t have any friends close by?) Many moving companies also offer packing services. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can hire helpers to speed up the moving process.