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Master the Art of Moving: A Comprehensive Packing Guide

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestStreamline Your Move with These Packing Hacks
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Moving to a new home can be exciting, but the thought of packing can be overwhelming. When it comes to putting all of your possessions safely into boxes, where do you even begin? Whether you’re schlepping your stuff across town or are making a major cross-country move, packing is a big job. Fortunately, you can protect your belongings—and your back—when you know the right way to pack for a move.

01

Start with storage

Share to PinterestLarge living room with stack of moving boxes
doble-d/ Getty Images

The sooner you start packing, the better! The easiest place to start is with the items you don’t use every day, so head to your storage spaces first. For example, start with your holiday decorations or off-season clothing; make sure these items are securely packed and clearly labeled. Get rid of anything you no longer need, and use a sticker to mark the boxes you’ve reviewed, so you know they’re ready to go.

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02

Get real about what you need

Share to PinterestDonation box with stuff (blankets and clothes)
Eleganza/ Getty Images

There’s no rule that says you have to bring everything with you. As you pack your belongings, be honest about what you actually need and use in your life. A good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything that you haven’t used in over a year. Check your local freecycle or neighborhood groups to find a new home for the things you no longer need, or consider donating them to Goodwill.

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03

Collect free boxes

Share to PinterestPhoto of pedigree cute dog poses on pile of cardboard boxes with owner belongings, relocate in new flat, empty room with white walls, lamp and sofa, big window.
Viorel Kurnosov/ Getty Images

Moving can get expensive, but you can find plenty of free boxes if you know where to look. Start by saving your delivery boxes and asking friends to do the same on your behalf. You can also check Facebook Marketplace or other local exchanges for boxes from others who have recently moved. Still in need? Call nearby big-box stores, grocery stores, and even your local hospital or doctor’s office to pick up sturdy boxes for free.

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04

Label boxes with their destination

Share to PinterestMoving boxes
Aneese/ Getty Images

Careful packing makes unpacking much easier. For a smoother start in your new place, pack items that go in the same room together, and label the box with the room where it ultimately belongs. This will help your movers—or your friends—unload the truck and get things into the right spots so you can quickly find your coffeemaker and laptop on the first morning in your new place.

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05

Use luggage to carry items

Share to PinterestA mature man helping his daughter relocate, perhaps into an apartment or college dorm.
kali9/ Getty Images

Your suitcases and backpacks also make great moving containers. It’s a no-brainer to use them for clothing, but wheeled luggage is also an excellent choice for heavy, awkward items. The same is true for tote bags and backpacks, which are designed to be easy to carry. Consider tucking lamps, small appliances, and serving dishes into these containers for ease, and keeping lightweight clothing in boxes.

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06

Watch the weight

Share to PinterestA sunny living room with many cardboard boxes, filled with possessions. In the foreground sits a box with a black dog peering out.
Catherine Falls Commercial/ Getty Images

It can be very tempting to stuff as much as you possibly can into a box, but keep an eye on how heavy it will be. For example, use smaller boxes for books, as stuffing a large box or crate to its brim could make for a box you can’t even lift. In general, put heavy items in small boxes and lighter items in big boxes to keep from overexerting yourself on moving day.

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07

Follow packing best practices

Share to Pinterestcouple unpacking cardboard boxes and moving in a new home
zoranm/ Getty Images

For each box, place the heaviest items on the bottom and work your way up to lighter items. You also want to fill the box evenly, covering the entire bottom first before moving up a layer. To maximize space, square and rectangular items make the best base, while irregular shapes should be placed on top.

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08

Hold fragile items in place

Share to PinterestCouple in love packing things into cardboard boxes, getting ready for relocation - man taping boxes using packing machine while woman is wrapping fragile things into paper
vladans/ Getty Images

The trick to protecting fragile items in transit is to make sure that they can’t slide around in their boxes. To do this, stuff glasses and other hollow items with newspaper, then wrap them in bubble wrap. Pack them carefully into the box, and then fill any empty corners with packing peanuts or newspaper until the items can no longer move when you (gently) shake the box. Don’t forget to label it as "fragile"!

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09

Line up help in advance

Share to PinterestMoving Furniture into New Home
SolStock/ Getty Images

Unless you have a very minimalist lifestyle, you’re going to need help moving all your boxes to your new digs. If you plan to hire movers, get estimates and schedule your move as far in advance as possible to secure your team. If you’re planning to ask friends to help, set the date and plan where you’ll pick up the pizza and beer at least two weeks ahead of time; send your friends reminders as the date gets closer.

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10

Pack a first-day bag

Share to PinterestClose up of group of friends moving in
Geber86/ Getty Images

The first day in a new home can be chaotic, but you can alleviate the stress by packing a bag filled with things you’ll need right away. Include bedding and PJs, plus a clean set of clothing, toothbrush, soap, and deodorant. You’ll also want to include snacks, a water bottle, a box cutter, and some cleaning supplies so you can dive into the unpacking tasks right away.

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11

Create your own packing materials

Share to Pinterestbox with newspapers

Moving can be expensive, so why add to the cost with pricey packing materials? Be resourceful and use items you already own. For example, old newspapers, magazines, and even clothes can serve as protective barriers for fragile objects. Not only will this approach save money, but you can do your bit for the environment.

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12

Have an "open first" box

Share to Pinterestnewspaper in box

The first night in a new home can be overwhelming. Amidst stacks of boxes, finding essentials can be a daunting task. That's where the "open first" box comes in. This box should contain everything you'll need immediately upon arrival, from toiletries and pajamas to important documents and some snacks. Think of it as your survival kit for the first 24 hours. Having this box on hand ensures that even if you're too tired to unpack everything, you'll have all the essentials within easy reach.

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13

Label the side of your boxes, not the top

Share to Pinterestboxes labeled

It's a common mistake to label the top of moving boxes. That's because once they're stacked, those labels become hidden. Instead, mark the side of your boxes. This way, even when piled up, you can easily identify the contents of each box. This hack can save you time and frustration when unpacking, resulting in a less stressful moving experience. Plus, it makes it easier for movers or helpers to place boxes in the correct rooms.

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14

Tape screws and bolts on the back of furniture

Share to Pinterestfurniture

Disassembling furniture is one of the first things you might do after moving home, but keeping track of small parts can be challenging. An easy solution? After taking each furniture piece apart before moving, place its screws, bolts, and other small components in a Ziploc bag. Then, tape this bag to the furniture piece it belongs to. That ensures that when it's time to reassemble, you have everything you need. It's a simple trick that can prevent lost or mixed-up parts and potentially save you hours of wasted time after moving into your new place.

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15

Create a moving binder

Share to Pinterestwoman with binder

While moving can be chaotic, having a centralized place for all your documents can be a lifesaver. Consider creating a moving binder. This item can store everything from rental or purchase agreements to mover quotes and checklists. Think of it as your moving bible! Every time you're unsure about a detail or need to double-check a date, you'll know exactly where your paperwork is. You'll thank yourself when you get to your new location!

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