How to Pack for a Move (Without Losing Your Mind)

How to Pack For a Move

Packing for a long vacation can be overwhelming. Packing up everything you own and moving it to a new house? That can be downright panic-attack-inducing. But do us a favor: take four deep breaths and try to relax. We’re here to help you pack for your move. Keep reading, and we’ll help you out with every packing related issue we can think of: what to pack first, how to pack, and even a seven-step guide to packing your house. Let’s dive in.

After you’ve packed, moving by yourself can sometimes take days—but we can design a plan that makes it faster and easier than ever.

Get an estimate

How to make moving easier: 7 easy steps to pack for your move.

In this section, we are going to show you how to make moving easier. We have broken it down into 7 easy-to-follow steps.

Please keep in mind, while we recommend this process, there is no “perfect” way to pack. So do what is most comfortable for you. These are just the steps we have found are the easiest for the 100,000+ customers we’ve worked with in the past.

1. Sell everything you haven’t used in the past year.

For most people, this can be the hardest part of the entire moving process—parting with their belongings. But, if you haven’t worn a pair of shoes in the past 365 days, are you ever going to wear them? Many Americans struggle with holding on to possessions they haven’t used in years and it costs them both space and money. A big move is a perfect opportunity to get rid of those things you never use while putting some extra cash in your pocket. Check out Craigslist or LetGo to sell some of your used belongings online. Or, visit your local consignment store.

2. Donate everything you can’t sell or don’t want to sell.

When you choose to let go of your old belongings, you are not only making it easier for yourself, you are making it easier for someone else, too. A pair of shoes that you never wear could become someone else’s favorite belonging. If you don’t want to sell the things you don’t use anymore, why not just give them away to someone who is less fortunate?

3. Organize all of your belongings into specific categories and pack accordingly.

This is a relatively simple step. Kitchen supplies should be packed with kitchen supplies. Cleaning supplies should be packed with cleaning supplies. Books should be packed with books. So on and so forth. When you start mixing and matching your belongings you’re going to run into some trouble. While right up front, throwing everything you own into a box may be easier, it makes it more difficult to unpack. Your future self will thank your past self if you take the time to pack thoughtfully.

4. Label your boxes like a master box labeler.

Invest in a fat Sharpie and label each and every box you pack. It might be tempting to leave this step out, but we promise it’s worth your time. Let’s say you have three boxes full of kitchen supplies, label them–– Kitchen #1: Pots & Pans, Kitchen #2: Cutlery and Silverware, Kitchen #3: [fill in the blank]. When you are moving into your new place, this will make it easier for your movers to take your boxes to exactly where they need to be.

5. Take care of all the little things.

There are a lot of little things that people tend to overlook when they are in the midst of packing for a big move. For example—don’t purchase any groceries for a week or so leading up to the big move. If so, you are going to be throwing away a lot of food that won’t survive the trip. Also, remember to defrost your fridge a few days before skipping town. Otherwise, you will have a wet watery mess to clean up on your ride over. Remember to put all of your toiletries in Ziplocs or bags—you don’t want to unpack your boxes and be surprised with cleaning up a gooey shampoo explosion.

6. Book a moving company—Bellhops, perhaps?

We recommend you move with a professional moving company, whether or not that is with us. While your cousin’s friend’s brother’s truck is great, there is an art to getting your belongings from point A to point B in one solid piece. While it may be cheaper at first to move on your own, in the long run, it could cost you more money than you realize. How many pick-up trucks will it take you to move? How many gallons of gas is that? What happens if one of your possessions gets damaged or your flat screen gets cracked? The bottom line, you’re better off safe than sorry—work with a professional moving company and you won’t regret it.

7. Pack well in advance.

Earlier we discussed how we as humans tend to be horrible procrastinators. We push off what we don’t want to do until the very last second. Most moving stress stems from individuals not being prepared for a move. We recommend you start packing at least 3 weeks prior to your move. Just force yourself to do 30 minutes of packing a night, that way you can slowly chip away at it.

Answer just a few simple questions and we’ll design a custom moving plan just for you.

Get an estimate

Okay.. but where do I start? What to pack first when moving:

Okay, you might be saying. That’s great. You gave me a nice seven step list. But where do I start? I have a whole house full of stuff here! And believe us, we get it (we are in the moving business, after all). Standing there, looking around at your books, your TV, your clothes, your pots, and pans—it’s overwhelming. So when you’re packing to move, where to start?

Here, we’re a big fan of the “lowest hanging fruit” principle. The lowest hanging fruit principle states that, essentially, when you have a long, complicated course of action in front of you (like packing up everything you own), start with the easy, straightforward stuff first. This is a simple way to avoid getting overwhelmed.

But how do you identify which tasks are the easiest? First, make a list of each room in your house. Think about packing your house room by room. If you think about packing everything in the whole house at once, we guarantee you’ll get stressed out. Instead, think about each room, and then break down the stuff that’s in each room into smaller categories. For example, the categories in your living room might include the following: books, entertainment equipment and accessories, decorations, and furniture.

Once you have your list of rooms and the categories of stuff in each room, find the smallest, simplest category. Begin there. When you’re working on this task, it may be tempting to try to work on other tasks at the same time. Or, maybe you’ll get stressed out and start thinking about everything else you have to do. If that’s the case, we have a motto for you: the task at hand. Repeat it to yourself over and over. You can only pack your whole house by working on one task at a time, and that task will get done a lot faster if you focus all your energy on it. One thing at a time.

A little more detail… How to pack moving boxes.

We wanted to dedicate an entire section to packing moving boxes because it’s important for a stress-free move. The first piece of advice we will give when it comes to packing moving boxes is this: pack heavy belongings in smaller boxes (ideally boxes that have handles). It is much easier to pick up a small 50-pound box than a large one. Large boxes tend to be awkward to carry and difficult to pack in a moving truck.

Our next piece of advice when it comes to packing moving boxes is this: never risk it. If you have a valuable item that you are worried about damaging, don’t give it a second thought—protect it. Put bubble wrap, blankets or packing paper around it to protect it from the hustle and bustle. And, quick side note: pack your dishes vertically, it reduces the risk of them breaking.

Lastly, don’t try to over-stuff moving boxes. Cramming and overloading boxes with belongings can lead to damaged items and increase the risk of the box ripping. 25 items in a box are much easier to move than 25 items scrambled all over the grass.

You have everything you need to start packing.

Awesome. Now you should have a good idea of how to pack for a move. You’ll be ready to move before you know it!

We are going to leave you with one final piece of advice that we mentioned once earlier—start packing two, three or even four weeks in advance. We can’t over-stress how important it is to pack earlier rather than later. The most stressful part of a move is scrambling around last minute to get everything that needs to be taken care of—taken care of.

As long as you have your boxes packed and ready, the toughest part of your move is over. Unpacking is the easy and exciting part—setting up your new life in a brand new home.

Subscribe for weekly updates.