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

How to Pack

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. Whether it’s your first move or your 20th, you should use our tips below so you can get settled into your new home with as little stress as possible.

After you’ve packed, moving by yourself can sometimes take days—but we can design a plan that makes it faster and easier to move into your new home.

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How to make packing easier: 7 simple tips.

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 do it. 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 probably won’t ever use again) 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? We have a blog post all about decluttering before a move.

3. Organize all of your belongings into specific categories

This is a relatively simple step. Kitchen supplies should be packed with kitchen supplies. Cleaning supplies should be kept 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 home, 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 one 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 hire 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 professional movers and you won’t regret it.

7. Finish up 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 three weeks prior to your move. Just force yourself to chip away at it for 30 minutes a night, that way you can slowly chip away at it.

Man packing clothes into boxes. Use our new tips to make your first move an easy one.

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

So you might be saying. That’s great. You gave me a nice seven step list. But what do I tackle first? I have a whole home 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, your pans, and all of the other items in your home—it’s overwhelming. So when you’re putting your life in boxes to move, here are our tips first steps.

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 tips 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 home. Think about packing your house room by room. If you think about packing everything in the whole home at once, we guarantee you’ll get stressed out. Instead, think about each room, and then break down the items 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 items 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 home 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 day. The first piece of advice we will give when it comes to organizing 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 arrange in a moving truck.

Our next piece of advice about packing boxes for your move is: 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, a 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. That would be bad news. So remember that 25 items in a box are much easier to move than 25 items scrambled all over the grass.

You have all of the tips you need to pack.

Awesome. Now you should have a good idea of how to pack for a move. You’ll be ready for the big day before you know it! If you’re still feeling like you need some move day guidance, check out our moving checklist. It covers every single thing you want to keep in mind before you move.

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 begin 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 easiest and most exciting part—setting up your new life in a brand new home.

This couple sits in front of boxes. They are feeling good about unpacking after reading our guide on how to pack for a move. Even if it's your first move into a new home, our tips will help.

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