Comprehensive Packing Tips and Checklist for Moving

Comprehensive Packing Tips and Checklist for Moving

Download our moving checklist to get started on your move!

We’ve compiled 20 years of packing and moving experience into one amazing list of packing tips for your next move.

Packing tips are essential to a stress-free and fun experience when you move. Yes, fun. If you stay organized with a packing checklist, you can have fun going through all your sentimental belongings, purging the stuff you don’t need anymore and efficiently packing exactly what you need for your next house or apartment. We have some fun packing videos to help you!

Packing your whole house may seem like a massive undertaking, when you look at the big picture, but if you start early and break down the whole job into small, discrete tasks, it becomes much easier. It is the same as any large project: make a plan, get organized, tackle a little bit at a time and it will be accomplished before you know it.

The important takeaway is to stay motivated and focused on whatever task you are doing in the moment. Get the big picture out of your head and get those boxes packed.

FlatRate can take care of the other details. Worrying about the truck, how to get to your new place, whether the movers have insurance or are reliable is not productive for packing. Let FlatRate handle the hard stuff.

And, if you really get overwhelmed by the thought of packing, consider FlatRate’s packing services.

But if that doesn’t fit into your budget, just follow these tips for a successful move.

Start Early

Get started as early as possible and begin by preparing a detailed moving checklist. The next step is to purge all your unwanted items at least a few months before your move-in date. The sooner you get rid of all the items you don’t need and don’t want to lug to the new digs, the sooner you can get into packing what your really need to bring. Consider checking out this book on tidying up.

Starting early is the best method for how to pack for a move. Of course, a packing checklist in physical and digital form is a great way to stay on-point.

Gather Packing Supplies

There are many scenarios in which you might need some special supplies, but for the most part you can get away with having the following items handy. Prepare and collect all of them before you start packing and moving to help things go as smoothly as possible.

You should have:

  • 15-20 small cardboard boxes
  • 15-20 medium cardboard boxes
  • 15-20 large cardboard boxes
  • You can collect these for free from local shops and merchants, or you can buy them from a moving company. You can also get an entire kit of boxes from a number of home supply stores, such as the Home Depot or Lowes.
  • You will also want cardboard separators. You can buy these or prepare your own using extra cardboard boxes picked up from local shops. Make sure to use thicker cardboard if you are going to make your own separators, and don’t cut them down until you are ready to use them.
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Fresh newspaper
  • A large roll of plastic wrap (used to protect items with distinct shapes and furniture)
  • A mattress bag is recommended for each mattress your transfer
  • Packing tape to seal the boxes
  • A box cutter or razor blade
  • Permanent markers

You should already have some of these items around the house (markers, box cutter, news paper, and a few boxes). Make sure that each person helping with the move has their own supplies, including tape. It will help everything go a lot faster.

You also want to have a hand truck to facilitate your move. Having a hand truck can help when moving an office, apartment, or home. You can stack several boxes and move heavy items much easier with one of these.

Begin Packing Off Seasons Belongings

If it is summer, get all those holiday decorations put away. If it is winter, pack your shorts, beach equipment and surfboards. The Christmas stuff is probably all packed efficiently and neatly, making that part easy. When you get into summer stuff, it could be a challenge. There are usually beach chairs involved and maybe a bunch of sand to shake out.

Supply Chain

Make sure you have enough boxes, scissors, tape and packing material. Especially if you are going to have a packing party and you plan on having 8-10 of your closest friends help fill all those cardboard receptacles.

Make Lists

Lists help you stay organized. Figure out what you are going to pack and where it is going. Having a master list in each room is going to be a huge help when you start to fill the boxes. Then you can take it with you and know what you have in each new room before you unpack.

Pack in Stages

Get the major purging of furniture and large items and household junk out of the way first. Then you can move on to the major rooms of the house. Once you have identified what you want to keep and what is essential, the main packing job can begin.

Box 101

Always stack with the heaviest boxes, containing books and other solid items, on the bottom. The lighter ones should go up on top. Pack boxes as tightly as possible to avoid too much shifting.

Tackle the Storage Spots

When you venture into the basement, it might seem overwhelming. Just breathe and you can start making three piles: items to keep, items to donate and items to throw out. That will get you focused and organized before you even break out the boxes.

Do you see that hand-crank pasta maker you bought for $10 at the flea market? Are you really going to use it? If the answer is no, think about trading it for a little bit of cash at a scrap metal site.

Take that mentality with all the stuff you have stored in the basement or attic or crawl space under the stairs. Whatever you have not used in the past 10-12 months, make plans to give it to charity or toss it.

Organize the Boxes with Colored Labels

Color-coding is going to save you so much time. Rather than write out each room on every box that you pack, create a master list that has the kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and living room, etc., matched with its own color.

Then just mark each box with a corresponding color so the moving crew can figure out very easily where everything goes.

Don’t forget to label boxes with fragile items. Make sure this is marked clearly on the top of the box. Use newspaper and packing peanuts to fill in empty space in boxes that have fragile items and draw an arrow on the sides indicating which way is up.

When you are moving an office or home it is easy for things to get disorganized pretty quickly. By figuring out how many boxes you need for each room and placing them accordingly, moving an office can become a simple and straightforward task.

Don’t forget to reinforce the bottom of your boxes with extra packing tape, especially when they become heavy. Books are the worst, because they can be deceptively heavy.

Focus on the Kitchen Early

This will be the most difficult packing situation. You need to spend a lot of time and energy properly packing kitchen items in order to prevent a load of broken dishes from ending up in your new place. Watch our fun packing videos for help!

Prepare your kitchen boxes correctly. Load up the bottom with some packing paper or newspaper to create some shock absorption. Then individually wrap plates, cups, glasses, etc., in order to create the most protection possible.

For utensils and silverware, place 3-4 items in a piece of paper and roll it twice. Since these are lighter items you can repeat that process multiple times and place a bunch of silverware rolls on top of heavier items like plates, bowls and mugs.

Set aside medium-sized boxes for pots and pans. Since those items are so heavy you don’t want to load too many into larger boxes. And make sure to label those boxes clearly to keep your movers in the know about heaviness.

Moving on to the Pantry

Packing up the pantry can be more difficult than anticipated. If it goes wrong the consequences aren’t usually about breakage of something expensive, but about mess. When it comes to storage & moving, spilled flour or cocoa powder can be a real inconvenience. For a smooth move, all food items needs to be well packed.

The first step is to get rid of perishable goods that won’t travel well. Handing long distance movers a slab of richly scented blue cheese won’t win you any friends, and it is unlikely to come through unscathed and edible. Take a look through the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer the week before moving day and plan meals that use up anything that you can’t easily take with you. It’ll save some money of grocery shopping, prevent wastage, and mean less packing. Leftover icecream, bread, dairy goods, frozen vegetables, and other perishables can be offered to friends, family members, or neighbors.
Canned goods are very easy to pack. After all, they were designed to be easily transported and stored for long periods. The one thing to remember is not to put all your baked beans, tinned fruit, and other cans in a single box. For their weight cans are pretty heavy so it’s a good idea to spread the weight between a few different boxes.
Paper and thin plastic bags that hold dry goods (flour, sugar, breakfast cereals, and rice for example) can easily break. Moving to storage in reusable plastic tubs will not only prevent messy mishaps, but also help keep the contents fresher for longer when you reach your new home. For the best results choose airtight containers with a strong seal – Mason jars are ideal.
Special care should be taken when moving wine and fine liquors. Good wine doesn’t like to be heated up too much, so letting it sit in a hot moving truck for a long period may well ruin it. It shouldn’t be shaken either. That can make transport very tricky. Either take your best bottles with you and make sure they are kept cushioned, cool, and safe, or celebrate the move by opening the best wines a couple of days before you’re due to leave. Your friends and neighbors will be more than happy to help make sure no drop goes to waste.

If you are driving to your new home, it pays to keep some pantry goods with you. Cookies, dried fruit, and other snacks can keep the kids out from underfoot while you and the movers get your new home arranged and they’ll also help them stay cheerful on the journey. Pop a few tasty bits and pieces in a lunchbox while you’re packing up the pantry and put it with the items that will be kept close at hand.

Use Clean Paper for Your Delicates

Paper towels and tissues could be your best friend when packing up the fine china and wine glasses. Use the clean paper for interior protection and then wrap it all in newspaper.

Really Think About Your Wardrobe Box Situation

Springing for tall wardrobe boxes with metal hanging rods may put a dent in your budget, but it is probably going to be worth it. You can take all your hanging clothes and neatly pack them in wardrobe boxes, ready to be moved with little hassle or wrinkling.

Packing Your Library

If you still have the beloved book collection and you would never think of going over completely to a tablet and e-reader, you are going to have to transport those bound lovelies somehow.

Keep your book boxes relatively small, so that each particular one does not get too heavy.

Packing Electronics

If at all possible, use the original packaging to box up your flatscreen, DVD players and computers for the move. They came packed that way for a reason. At any rate, make sure you have plenty of materials to keep the packages safe.

When disassembling your electronics, keep all the cords, remotes and smaller parts organized, either with twist ties or plastic baggies. Taking pictures of the setup before your disassemble is also smart, because it gives you a guide for how to put it all back together.

And this is where the color coding for boxes should come in handy. Without an explicit message on the boxes, stored electronics are a much less likely target for thieves.

If you are going to store any of these boxes for an extended period of time, more than a month or two, be sure to have them in a climate-controlled facility. FlatRate can certainly help with that.

How to pack for a move is a very involved process. With the right motivation, proper planning (which must include a moving and packing checklist!) and enough time, you can make sure it is done right. Don’t forget to let FlatRate help you finish the job.

Download our moving checklist to get started on your move!