The Best Packing Tips

Even if you’re just moving down the street, the prospect of packing up your entire household can be daunting. It’s so stressful that many people put it off until the last possible minute, which is a recipe for disaster. Instead of letting anxiety and dread take over, make this move the best one yet by taking an organized approach to your packing. While not an easy task, it’s much more bearable when you break it down into three stages.

Stage 1: The Seldom-Used Stuff
Whether you’re packing up over a period of hours or weeks, this category includes everything that you won’t need any time soon—and probably haven’t used in months. In fact, some of it may still be in boxes from your last move! This includes off-season clothing, seasonal decorations, old photo albums, financial records from the past decade, that fondue set that’s been sitting there since your wedding…you get the picture. Anything that you haven’t touched in at least two months—and that you won’t need within the next couple of weeks—makes it into this category.

Stage 2: The Need-It-Soon Stuff
You can pack these things a day or two in advance to make moving day easier and less chaotic. Need-it-soon stuff includes all of the items that you generally need on a daily basis but can live without for a day or two. For example: your clothes. Pack everything up except one or two changes of clothes. Kitchen items tend to fall into this category as well. When you’re in the midst of organizing yourself for a move, you probably won’t be doing much cooking—delivery, please!—so pack up your pots and pans, silverwear, plates, glasses, etc. For the day or two when you’re in between houses, use paper plates and disposable utensils.

Stage 3: The Need-It-Now Stuff
You shouldn’t pack items in this category until the day of your move.
Some need-it-now may stuff may include hygiene items, pet supplies, a change of clothes, daily prescription medication—and don’t forget to leave a roll of toilet paper. It’s always a necessity. Also, remember to leave a vacuum and other cleaning supplies so you can do a once-over before turning your house over to its next occupants.

Your boxes should be loaded into your moving van in the above order as well, with seldom-used stuff in back and need-it-now stuff in front. This way, you won’t have to dig around for immediate necessities in a hot (or cold) moving van.

More tips for a stress-free move:

o If you have time—and you should, unless your boss told you to report for duty in another state tomorrow—weed out your possessions either before or as you pack. In addition to the moving boxes you’ve got set up, make two additional piles: toss and donate. Haven’t used that camping gear in…well…ever? Donate that and any other usable items to a charitable organization. Some stuff is beyond redemption, however, and there’s no use dragging it to your next house. Just dump it.

o Not having enough boxes on hand leads to delays and promotes frustration. Double whatever number of boxes you think you’ll need, and about a week before your move (or earlier if you can motivate yourself to get started), designate one room to store boxes and other packing material.

o You can buy boxes, of course, but if you want to save a few bucks, hit up area grocery stores and ask if you can have their empty boxes. They may be flattened already, but that actually makes them easier to transport. And it takes just seconds to reassemble them at home.

o In a pinch, you can use kitchen linens to cushion breakables. Place pot holders between layers of glasses and wrap fragile items in hand towels and cloth napkins. Bonus: you won’t have to wash newsprint off of everything when you reach your destination.

o Mark every box carefully—on top and on at least two sides—using a two-step approach. First, identify the room or area where the box should be delivered (“kitchen,” for example). Then, indicate what the box actually contains (“pots and pans”). This way it’s easy for the movers to quickly determine where to dump the box, but it also lets you know whether you need to open it right away or sometime next week.

o Make a concerted effort to either eat or toss the majority of items in your fridge and freezer. Depending on how far you’ll be moving, it can be tough to keep cold things cold on a moving truck.

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