Stress-free packing for a move is part science, part art … there are right ways and wrong ways to pack dishes, electronic devices, books, and artwork. There are specialty boxes and packing materials recommended for this precise activity. The order in which you pack is essential.
There is also an order to packing that can help make moving as stress-free as possible. Before you even begin to pack, you should take inventory of your belongings. Take a walk through your home with notebook and pen in hand. Bring a cup of coffee or your favorite drink with you. This can take time.
As you go through the inventory process, note the items you will NOT be taking with you. Whatever you no longer use, things that have been in the back of the closet for years, clothes that no longer fit, hobbies or sports you no longer participate in … these are all categories for the decluttering process. It is senseless (and costly) to pack and move items that you won’t be using in your new home. Sort these unwanted items into four categories: give to family or friends, sell, donate, or trash.
Clean and dust items before packing them so you don’t have to do this when unpacking … when you are most eager to set up your new home. Now onto packing.
What Comes First? Stress-Free Packing for a Move
Start with the least used room.
Perhaps this room is the garage, basement, attic, or spare bedroom. Determine which room in your home is the least used and begin the packing process there.
Pack items that are in storage.
Organize and pack the items you have in a storage room in your home. First check for items you may no longer need or want. Towels and sheets in your linen closet can be packed, except for one set of each to put in your “open me first” box. See below.
Pack the most difficult room.
While this room may be used often, like a children’s playroom, you don’t want to save it for last, as you may be all tired out by the time you get to it. You want to give it the attention it deserves and not rush the process just because it is the last one on your list. If it is the children’s playroom, don’t pack it up entirely; leave some of the favorite toys and games out and save a box for these items to pack just before moving day. If it is a bedroom, don’t pack all your clothing! Pack what you don’t think you’ll need until after the move and keep a box handy for last-minute bedroom items to pack just before the big day.
Pack out of season items.
If you’ve already tackled the attic or basement, then you may have gotten to the holiday décor. If there are items that are only used seasonally, pack them now as you won’t need them until you are in your new location.
Books, music, and décor come next.
Items hanging on the wall that are purely aesthetic can be packed early on in the process. Artwork, wall décor, and knick-knacks fall into this category. (See our blog on how to pack art.) Books, magazines, and music also are in this group … only be sure to go through them to toss or give away magazines already read. Do the same with no longer playable music tapes, CDs, video games, or DVDs. Unwanted books can be donated to your local library. Moving books that you have read or will probably never read is expensive – they are heavy and your move expenses are based on weight!
Shoes and Jewelry
Leave out the shoes and jewelry you most often wear and pack the rest. See our blog on how best to pack your shoes.
Begin packing the rest of the rooms, using the same process. First pack those items that are non-essential, things not needed day to day. Then, pack the rest of the items, leaving out the absolute essential items you will need as soon as you get to your new home.
Stress-Free Packing for a Move: Packing Up Essential Items
If you’ve packed up most of your non-essential items, you can begin packing those items you will need as soon as you are at your new location and move in.
Not everything in your kitchen is needed every day. You can go without many things for a week or two. You can cook most meals using just one skillet, one pot, and a spatula. Most of everything else can be packed now.
Keep your coffee maker on hand until the last day, but you can pack your air fryer, instant-pot, and waffle maker! Use disposable plates, bowls and plastic knives, forks, and spoons so that you can pack up your dishes and utensils now.
Pack up non-perishable food in your pantry that you won’t expire any time soon. Try to consume as much as possible between now and your move. Consider donating canned goods and other non-perishables to a local food pantry and pack up the remaining pantry items the last day before your move.
Set aside everything you might need for personal, business, or school work between now and your move. Pack up any office supplies you have left. Important documents can be packed and taken with you.
Electronic devices and media players
When your move is just a few days away, pack these devices and be sure to document how everything is plugged in … what attached to where … take a photo with your camera or attach labels to the cords to give instructions when you are setting up the office at your new home. You also want to wrap everything securely for a safe journey. See our blog on how to pack electronic devices.
Toiletries and cleaning supplies
Set aside those things you use on a daily basis. Check expiration dates and toss those that are old, almost empty, or any you haven’t used in months. Pack these items in plastic zip-bags to prevent leakage. Pack your hairdryer and curling iron with them. Since this is one of the last boxes you will be packing, it should be readily accessible when you arrive in your new home.
At this point your move is probably about a week or less away, so you will need to prioritize these items in order of importance. But first … you’ll need to pack a box of items you’ll need right away in your new home.
“Open me first!” Box for Stress-Free Packing for a Move
An “open me first” box includes all of the items you might need during your first day/night in your new home. Packed in a box or suitcase, these items may include:
A change of clothes
Favorite electronic devices
Paper towels and a cleaning spray for immediate use in your new home, if necessary
The essentials box includes what you decide you will need. A good idea is to pack it sooner rather than later, and be sure to label it and keep it open and easily accessible until you are going out the door for the last time. Take it with you in the car if you can, so that it is with you when you arrive at your new destination.
Packing in a logical order avoids the risk of packing everything at the last minute, which. only ensures that your things will be damaged or misplaced. Give yourself as much time as you need to complete the packing process to be ready when the moving van arrives!
If you have questions about packing for your upcoming move, call Ayer Moving and Storage at (800) 233-6683 or email one of their Relocation Specialists. Download our packing guide: Secrets from the Packing Professionals at Ayer Moving and Storage.