How To Pack For A Move: Packing Guide For Moving

February 27, 2023|

Broadly speaking, moving is regarded as one of the most stressful processes for adults. Packing everything, making sure not to forget anything, realizing there are a lot of things that you actually don’t need… it does take a lot of time. At Moveprice, the #1 Moving Services Company, being well aware of this, we are committed to helping you get your move organized.

1. How to pack for a move: 5 basic packing steps

1.1 Step 1: Downsize your home: Sell, Donate, or Trash

Women with yellow shirt packing clothes in a moving box for donation
Women with yellow shirt packing clothes in a moving box for donation

It is very likely that you find yourself packing before a move, and you start noticing that there is no need to take everything. You remember that there are a lot of items that you don’t need anymore. Almost all movers charge by weight for your more – so the more stuff you’re moving the more expensive your move.

For this reason, the first thing we recommend before you start packing is that you take a look at the things you have, and make sure to get those items you don’t need anymore out of the way. If they are in good condition, you can definitely have a go at trying to sell them. No matter what item it is, it can always be published on Amazon or eBay. Other alternatives could be Poshmark, if you are planning to sell clothes, and Etsy, for handmade arts and crafts, or vintage collectibles. You could also sell your furniture on Craigslist or Marketplace, for example.

If for whatever reason items are not saleable, you can donate them. You could take them to your local church or shelter, where they will surely find a new owner who might be in need, especially when it comes to clothes. You can also try to donate items through Freecycle. And of course, there will always be trash items, which no longer have any function, so make sure you get rid of those before you start packing.

1.2 Step 2: Make an inventory of your items

While this might sound a bit weird, having an inventory with all the items you have at home and are planning to move, might save your mental health from stressing out on the very first day of packing. If it is well done, it can become way more than just a list of your belongings.

Here’s an example:

Item Packing Details Room Box Number Notes
Tea cups Packed Kitchen #3 All in the same box

If you keep track of the items you are planning to move in a way like this, not only will it help you not to forget anything, but also, to keep track of, for example, what things still need to be packed. It will organize your move a lot, which is extremely valuable when considering how disorganized moves actually are.

1.3 Step 3: Get your basic packing tools

Finally, once you have gotten rid of the items you don’t need anymore, and once you have everything organized in your inventory (we recommend doing it in a spreadsheet), the last thing remaining is to get the packing materials and tools. It is a common sense thing, but in the middle of the move, it might happen that you randomly realize that you don’t have enough of the essentials. So, before you even start, make sure to get enough boxes, tape, and markers, so that you don’t have to worry about those later on.

2. How to pack for a move efficiently: Professional Packing Tips

A couple, the man with a red sweater and the women with a horizontal striped red sweater packing their things with moving boxes.
A couple, the man with a red sweater and the women with a horizontal striped red sweater packing their things with moving boxes.

2.1 Strategically plan what to pack first and last

It is very important that you think in advance about the order you will follow when starting to pack. What does this mean? Well, it seems pretty obvious that if you pack dishes and glasses at the bottom of a box, then you must not put heavy stuff on top, because they can break.

However, this is not as obvious when you find yourself packing without previous planning. For this reason, make sure you plan what to put in each of the different boxes beforehand so you don’t end up losing track of things and packing them in a potentially dangerous way.

2.2 Create a Packing calendar

Another issue that might occur is that you leave packing for too late, and you end up finding yourself in a hurry just for not being well organized. For this reason, make sure you plan things in advance. Just as you must plan the different boxes, also, divide the job on different days.

For example, on Monday, 3 weeks before the day of the move, you start taking the decorations off the living room. This way, you can start packing with time, and make sure you don’t have to do everything the day before the move.

2.3 Create a Moving Checklist

Apart from the calendar, a moving checklist is another great way to keep record of everything that is going on. The way it works is pretty easy. At the beginning, you just make a list of everything that needs to be packed. That same list is the one you then split and put in the calendar, to divide the work into different days.

Each time you finish packing a room, you can tick it off the list, so that you can just forget about it. Also, in that list, you could potentially write down some notes, for example, if there were some things you couldn’t pack yet, for whatever reason.

2.4 Label your packing items

Another great way of making your move as organized as possible is to have everything labeled. By everything I mean all the boxes. Probably, not all the stuff in the kitchen will fit in a single box. For this reason, label the boxes and keep track of what’s inside each box. You can do this in the inventory. This way, when you arrive at your new place, if you want to have a coffee, you will know that the coffee maker is in “Kitchen – Box 2”, and will not have to run through all the boxes until you eventually find what you are looking for.

3. Room-by-room moving checklist

Man with glasses and green shirt moving 3 boxes with her daughter behind him holding a teddy white bear and her wife behind holding a box with plants
Man with glasses and green shirt moving 3 boxes with her daughter behind him holding a teddy white bear and her wife behind holding a box with plants

3.1 Bedroom

Bedrooms should be the last rooms in your packing schedule. However, you can pre-pack most of the items, and make sure you leave a change of clothes and your bed out until the morning of the move. 

Also, when you find yourself in the wardrobe, make sure you first pack your least used clothes, so that once they make it to the box, they don’t need to be taken out for any potential inconvenience.

Additional tips:

  • Pre-pack the clothes you are not wearing during the season.
  • Fold your clothes appropriately and put them ideally into a suitcase, rather than a box.
  • Keep your jewelry and valuables with you. Don’t pack them on the moving truck. Take them in your backpack, alongside your portable electronic devices.

3.2 Kitchen

Before you start packing the kitchen items, it is very important that you organize them very well in different categories, such as dishes, cutlery, cups and bowls, glasses, small and large kitchen appliances, etc. The vast majority of these will be fragile items, so make sure you pack them in a clever way, using a good distribution of boxes and decent wrapping.

Also, all the small/medium-sized kitchen devices such as coffee makers, microwaves, and mixers, just to name a few, will have come in their own box. So if you still have those, that will be a very effective way of packing them.

Additional tips:

  • Use newspaper to wrap pieces of glassware. Put them into different boxes, according to their category (dishes, cups, bowls, glasses, etc). Label these boxes as “FRAGILE”.
  • Pack appliances into their original boxes if you still have them.
  • Donate opened food packages that you will not be able to consume before your move.

3.3 Living Room

In most cases, it is the largest room in the house, with the most amount of items to pack. Most certainly, it will take a lot of time and effort to pack, so make sure you plan this well in advance, and leave a logical amount of time for it. You will probably have a lot of important items here, so we recommend that you pack each item and all their accessories in separate boxes.

An example of this would be the TV, which should go together with all its cables. By the way, make sure you wrap the TV in a mattress and label its box as “FRAGILE”.

Additional tips:

  • Remove light bulbs and shades from lamps and chandeliers and wrap each separately.
  • Ideally, pack your big electronics such as television or speakers in their original boxes.
  • Irreplaceable items: make sure you either protect them very well or carry them with you. An example of this could be a souvenir you brought from a special trip.

3.4 Dining Room

Another room that will take a lot of time. Mostly, not because of the number of items to pack, but because of their fragility. Fragile decorations will most likely be there, as well as a lot of furniture, which is usually some of the most difficult things to pack.

The more you can reduce the size of all these things, the better it will be when having to move them from one place to the other, especially for furniture. Try to disassemble them as much as possible for easier packing and moving.

Additional tips:

  • Secure all doors and drawers in cabinets to ensure they don’t open during the move.
  • Use painter’s tape to protect the furniture from being scratched or damaged.
  • Try to disarm as much as you possibly can. Especially big furniture which is difficult to move.

3.5 Laundry Room

The complexity of packing up the items in the laundry room does not lie in the number of items, but in their size. Take the washing and drying machines for example; they are very big and extremely heavy. 

Most probably, you will need help from your moving company to get them out of the house, as they can’t really be packed. Other than that, just make sure you don’t forget to pack any of the other items in that room, such as cleaning products for example.

Additional tips:

  • Break down shelving units and place the items in sealable plastic bags.
  • Put all the small laundry room items together. Those should also be the first ones to be packed.
  • Get your washing machine ready to be moved. Make sure that it is completely drained and that it doesn’t have any water.

3.6 Garage

The garage, such as other storage areas of your home, should be the first to be packed. These are usually the toughest to organize, as usually, our garages are a mess. The items found in these areas of the house are usually oddly-shaped, heavy, and dangerous, which makes their packing quite tricky. Moreover, you must find a place where to relocate them, unless you leave them there until the moment of moving. This wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

Additional tips:

  • Clean furniture and break it down to make it easier to move.
  • Cover any sharp tools with cardboard or towels. Ideally put them in their original carrying case for more safety.
  • Make sure you don’t pack your toolbox first. You’ll need it for the rest of the rooms!

4. Tips For Packing Items

4.1 Clothes

  • Divide your clothes into groups to make packing easier. You can group them by size, material, or most conveniently, by season.
  • Start by packing the clothes you are not using at the moment. If it’s winter, start by packing all the summer season clothes, which you know won’t be needed.
  • Fold the clothes neatly; pack them in suitcases or boxes.
  • Make sure your footwear is clean before packing it. Try to have a separate box for all your shoes, with no other clothes in there.

4.2 Cups

  • Stuff their interior with packing paper (or any sort of paper actually) so as to provide them support.
  • Wrap the cup, and the handles as well.
  • Do this a few times until they are well-wrapped.

4.3 Plates

  • Wrap them on paper.
  • Secure the paper with tape.
  • Continue wrapping until it’s completely covered and secured.
  • Secure with tape again.

4.4 Mattress

  • Vacuum the mattress to make sure it is clean and dry.
  • Pack it in a mattress bag – while it is lying on the bed frame, slide the mattress bag from the bottom, all the way through.
  • Vacuum the bag to reduce its volume as much as possible, by removing air.

4.5 Jewelry

  • Keep items secure and separate. Wrap them properly, ideally using re-sealable kitchen wrap. This will prevent them from scratching.
  • If you can, put everything in a little metal box, right where you would store them at home, and move them in there in your bag, especially to avoid them getting lost.

4.6 Furniture

  • Disassemble as much as you can – furniture is usually quite tricky to move.
  • Take measurements – this will help you find the right boxes where to pack.
  • Wrap corners with cardboard to protect them from tearing or damage.

4.7 Wine bottles

  • Red and white wine bottles should be packed upside down. This will keep corks wet, and prevent them from oxidizing or getting spoilt.
  • Sparkling wines and champagne should be packed upright.

If possible, wrap them in clothes as much as possible, to avoid them from breaking. Learn more about how to pack wine bottles for moving here.

4.8 Wine bottles

  • Red and white wine bottles should be packed upside down. This will keep corks wet, and prevent them from oxidizing or getting spoilt.
  • Sparkling wines and champagne should be packed upright.
  • If possible, wrap them in clothes as much as possible, to avoid them from breaking. Learn more about how to pack wine bottles for moving here.

5. Moving packing timeline: What & When To Pack

White woman with pink sweater holding her arms up and smiling sitting on the floor with 4 moving boxes around and behind her
White woman with pink sweater holding her arms up and smiling sitting on the floor with 4 moving boxes around and behind her

One of the most difficult parts of the moving process is getting started. How do I get started? When do I get started? Where do I get started? Let’s break it down.

5-7 weeks before moving:

Gather the supplies needed: boxes, tape, markers, and padding. Organize yourself: create your inventory with all the items you are planning to pack, your packing calendar, and your checklist.

4-5 weeks before moving:

Start downsizing. Sell items in good condition that you no longer need; donate those that can’t be sold, and trash the ones that are no longer functional.

3-4 weeks before moving:

Start packing your least-used belongings. You can start with rooms such as the garage, which usually stores items that are not frequently used, and also with items that you are not using during the season, such as some of your clothes. Make sure you store everything in boxes, and label those accordingly.

2 weeks before moving:

Start packing all the rest. Mark the essentials in your inventory, and those are the only items you must not pack yet. The rest can now be stored in boxes. Take it room by room, following your calendar, to do it as organized as possible.

1 week before moving:

Make sure you have packed everything possible. Keep your essentials well-identified. Organize your boxes properly, and check they are all labeled by room and number. This will help a lot when unpacking in the new place.

24hs before moving:

Pack the essentials. Make sure you have ticked everything in the inventory and checklist. Check the whole house to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

6. How To Pack For A Move Fast: Last Minute Packing 

If you are a bit scattered, it might happen that you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have a full 4 weeks to pack. Also, it could happen that you need to move from one day to another, for a circumstantial reason. So, what can you do if you only have a few days?

6.1 Reduce your stuff as much as you can

Unfortunately, you probably won’t have enough time to sell, so donate or give away all those items you won’t need anymore. Also, it is very likely that you will have some items that can’t be donated or given away, so make sure to get them out of the way as fast as possible. If they are recyclable, you could collaborate with a good cause there as well.

6.2 Pack an essentials box

Your move is going to be chaotic and you can’t escape that. Make sure you take a box, label it as “ESSENTIALS”, and put all you’ll need for the first few days in there. A few changes of clothes and toiletries, as well as a plate and a glass at least. Also, take a backpack and put all your portable electronic devices with their cables, and important papers that you might need during the move, to have them with you.

6.3 Get help!

A great way of going ahead with a quick move is trying to get some friends to help you out. This way, the job will be divided among a few people. At the end of the day, you are not doing it in an organized way, so you don’t need to be looking at every single box. At this point, you just focus on getting everything ready.

6.4 Start packing every room

Unfortunately, you will not have enough time to organize yourself. Just go room by room and put everything into boxes. It won’t be nicely organized, but that is not your goal either. It doesn’t matter if your shoes end up in the same box as your underwear, as long as you manage to pack everything.

6.5 Hire professional movers

If you believe that this is too much for you, and you don’t want your move to be this chaotic, you always have the chance to pay professionals to help you out. At the end of the day, there are very few things that money can’t buy. So, if you prioritize organization, you can always have this as a last resource. At Moveprice, we’ll always be there to help you. Learn the difference between moving yourself vs. hiring movers here.

7. FAQ’s

7.1 How long before a move should I start packing?

We recommend that you start packing at least 5 weeks before your move. It actually really depends on how much time you can devote to it every day, but if you organize yourself properly with a packing calendar and moving checklist, 5 weeks should be enough.

7.2 What should you not pack for a move?

Make sure that before you start packing, you sell, donate, or trash those items that you won’t need any longer. Those are the items you don’t want to pack.

7.3 What is the fastest way to pack for a move?

The fastest way to pack for a move is doing it room by room. Starting with the least used, and finishing with bedrooms, which have the most used stuff. Make sure you have an inventory with everything that needs to be packed. If you are in a real hurry, you just focus on putting everything into boxes, without thinking too much about the organization.

7.4 How do I pack without getting overwhelmed?

The key is starting with time and being well-organized. We recommend that you list all the things that need to be packed, room by room, and then split them into a calendar. This way, you can keep track of everything, and start packing with time to cope with moving stress.

7.5 Which room do I start packing first?

The least used rooms! Usually, one would start by packing the garage, as the items, there are not used very often.

7.6 What is the hardest room to pack?

The hardest rooms to pack are usually the living room and the dining room. In the living room, there are a lot of items to pack, and it is usually the largest room in the house. The dining room, on the other hand, will very likely take a lot of time, not because of the number of items but due to their delicacy.

7.7 How do you pack a messy house?

You should start by organizing yourself with an inventory. This way, even though the house is messy, you can keep track of everything that needs to be packed. Once this is done, you take it room by room, with the most patience you possibly can!

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