The Best Way to Pack for a Stress-Free Move

If your goal is a stress-free move, you need to pack with a plan.

Rushing around in a frenzy, stuffing everything into garbage bags the night before moving day? Not a great plan. That’s how your things end up broken, forgotten, or accidentally thrown out with the garbage.

The best way to pack for a move is to start early and pack smart. Just follow the guidelines included in the 3-step process below, and you’ll be well-prepared for a stress-free move!

1) Purge.

Start 5–6 weeks before moving day, by taking stock of your things. Decide what you actually want to bring with you, and for everything else, check out our guides on how to get rid of it all. You can give extra stuff to friends and family, donate it to charity, sell it online or set up a garage sale, or simply throw it away.

2) Prepare.

Once you’ve purged, it’s time to gather packing materials.

If you’re using a moving company, they may provide you with everything you need, in which case you’re off the hook!

But if you’re in charge of getting your own packing materials, you’ll need the following: boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, wrapping pads for fragile items, and — if you’re using cardboard boxes — scissors/box-cutters and lots (and lots) of packing tape.

You can save money and grab used boxes from people on Craigslist who’ve just finished moving, Liquor and grocery stores, and sites like UsedCardboardBoxes. Another, environmentally-friendly option is to rent plastic moving boxes from companies like RentAGreenBox, Gorilla Bins, Bin-It, and JuggleBoxMoving.

Don’t forget you can save space by packing things in your laundry baskets and suitcases!

Finally, take note of everything that you’ll need a special box for, like hanging clothes, guitars, stand-up lamps, cribs, artwork, televisions, etc., and get those boxes as soon as you can.

3) Pack.

Three weeks prior to moving day, start packing all of the non-essential items in closets, attics, and out-of-the-way spots.

With two weeks left, pack the majority of your clothes, dishes, books, artwork, etc.

If you spread it out effectively, then the last week is basically just clean up!

Leave for last an “essentials box”, which will include your valuables and anything you might need during the move or in the first few days after arrival. Options include: toilet paper, toiletries, towels, flashlights, batteries, snacks, bottled water, valuables, a change (or two) of clothes, laptops, phone chargers, basic cooking supplies (plates, cups, utensils, can opener, soap, sponge, etc.) medications, bedding and pillows.

The “essentials box” is also great for kids! Have your children pack their own box with whatever items they deem special. They will love being able to pack it themselves, and you can add to it yourself after they’re done.

A few general packing tips:

  • Label boxes! Use printout labels or a big marker to let future-you know what’s inside.

  • Pack room-by-room to keep things organized.

  • Heavy stuff at the bottom, lighter stuff on top.

  • Fill empty spaces with clothes or packing paper to avoid damage.

  • Wrap fragile items in clothes to save on paper and bubble wrap.

And the last of our packing tips for moving? Don’t forget anything!

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