Tips on Packing

Whether you are moving across town or across the country, packing can be one of the biggest hassles. It does not have to be. I have moved quite a bit over the past four years, and I am about to make the move again. Here are a few things I do to make my move a little more enjoyable.


If you are moving to a larger location or a smaller location, the first step to a frustration-free move is downsizing your possessions. Think about what you really need and want. I hate it when I move somewhere and unpack a box of things that I really don’t want, and get rid of them right away. If there is furniture that you know you won’t be using, try selling it on Craig’s List, Ebay or to a friend in need of furniture. Old clothing can be donated to any number of stores, including Salvation Army. You can sell or donate most any object in your home that is no longer wanted. This will free up space for things you need in your boxes, lessen moving costs, and once you move, create room for things that you want in your new home.

Consider how much space is available in your new home. If you know your sectional sofa will not fit in the new space, sell it and save yourself the money and energy it will take to move it. Take measurements of your new space and try making a sketch of it. Measure large items you already have to make sure they will fit. You should also consider how you will be moving your items. If it is a crosstown move, you can easily rent an affordable Uhaul or other truck for the day. If you are moving to another city or state, it can get pricier and may limit the space you have to pack your possessions. One great option, though harder to find, for moving long distances is renting space on semi truck. You pack all of your belongings and the driver will notify you the day before he arrives. You put all of your possessions in a pre-allotted space, created by separators. Your belongings are brought to your new home. This saves you money, as well as the discomfort of driving a rental truck long distances.


This, for me, is the hardest part. I generally tend to lose interest and stamina by the fourth or fifth box. I’ve tried overcoming packing obstacles by both packing all at once to get it over with, and spreading it out over a few days by packing one room at a time. The latter was definitely more successful. Packing in this way is less stressful, as you don’t feel as rushed and can take breaks that cut away at the monotony. I also find that this makes the move much more organized. Items that were in my kitchen will all be together, and it will make unpacking much less stressful.

When buying packing materials, make sure you purchase plenty of tape and bubble wrap. Don’t throw out the bubble wrap after unpacking. It is easily stored and can be re-used for another move, storing breakables or sending gifts. If you want to save money on packing materials for your fragile items, try saving magazines the months before your move. This is a superior alternative to newspaper, as the print on newspaper is likely to rub off on your valuables and will most likely not come off in the dishwasher, and will require scrubbing. If you pack a lamp shade with newspaper, it will not come off. Several of my lamp shades met their demise in this manner during one move.

As for boxes, there are several alternatives to buying cardboard boxes. You can use plastic boxes if you have storage space at your new home. They are great for storing items and can be used again should you decide to move. If you want to use cardboard, a cheaper alternative is going to the grocery store. Check with them a month before you move and see when they generally stock items, as this is when they will have the largest variety of boxes. They have always let me go in the back and take as many boxes as I need for free. An eco-friendly option is Rent-a-Crate, which will rent you plastic crates for your move. This will save you money, and help save the environment as well. (These crates generate less greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste and require less energy to produce than cardboard boxes.)

You have all of your packing materials in place. Now you can actually pack the individual boxes. Be careful not to overpack or underpack your boxes. If you overpack, your boxes could be too heavy or items could crush one another. Underpacking is actually more dangerous, as items have room to crash around while in transit and can break more easily. Instead, try packing heavy and light items together, with light items on top, creating a box that is safe for possessions and for your back. (Do not pack all of your books in one large box. It will be hard to lift and could cause injury.) While you are packing the boxes, use post-its or notecards to mark which items are in the box. This will allow you store the box appropriately in the moving truck so valuables will not be broken, and will once again make it easier to unpack once you arrive at your destination. Before packing, clean all of your possessions. You do not want to pack a crusted pan or dirty dishes. With older furniture, be careful not to use waxes or oils for a few weeks before the move. This will make the wood softer and more easily damaged while in transit.

There are always some items you are not sure where to pack or how to pack. For me, the cleaning supplies are always left for last. I use them to clean up last-minute messes, and don’t really want to put them in a box with other items. I generally leave out my eco-friendly grocery bags and books saks and try to put my cleaning products in those. They are easily stored in random spaces. If they spill, I can wash the bag without damage to other items, and the cleaning supplies are easily accessible when I arrive in my new apartment and clean before unpacking.


Your boxes are now well packed and labeled. Walk through your home one last time to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Have a friend come with you to have a second pair of eyes. Be sure to check the back of your closet, hooks on the back of doors, and your refrigerator. (I have left medication in the fridge when running out of an apartment before, not good.) Once you have done this, you are ready to turn over your keys and go to your new apartment, where you hopefully find all of your possessions in tact, and ready for their new home.


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