Packing 101: How to Prepare for Your Move Like a Pro

Packing 101: How to Prepare for Your Move Like a Pro

Planning a big move in the not-too-distant future? You’ve probably got a lot of packing yet to do. Before you make the rounds through neighborhood stores to collect unused boxes, formulate a plan that helps you get the job done better.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is your first big move, there’s always room for improvement. So set aside a few hours and think this thing through. There are some right ways to move, and some wrong ways to avoid. Here are some of tips and strategies that help make it easier.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Belongings

Step one in every home move is eliminating all of the things that you don’t want to pack. Most homes have extras. Maybe you have a stash of clothing that you hope to wear again one day. Or maybe there’s a stash of worn out bath towels that you’d planned to turn into cleaning rags, craft supplies that you haven’t used, or old toys that aren’t anything special but still take up valuable space in your home.

If you don’t use it, get rid of it. That means fewer things to pack, and a lower moving quote because you’ll have fewer boxes. They some of these ideas for culling your belongings:

    • Be ruthless. If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably won’t use it at all
    • Discard everything that’s broken and unusable
    • Let each family member choose which personal belongings (including toys) to keep and which to toss
    • Check with charities that accept donations of good quality items
    • Have a giant garage sale

Allot Plenty of Time

Something incredible happens when you pack up a home. You can walk around your place again and again, search through closets and the attic and make a compressive list. And you’ll still find more things to pack than you expected.

Packing is an extremely time-consuming job. Professional movers need several hours, a day, or even a few days to pack depending on the volume of belongings. And that’s using a team of people with no sentimental attachment to anything in the home. U-Pack says that it takes a team of experienced movers 2-4 hours to pack a studio apartment. A 5-bedroom home could take 12 hours or longer. Use that as your baseline, and allow plenty of time.

Pack Out of Season Clothing and Items First

Probably the easiest part of your home to pack up is the supply of seasonal clothes, decorations and equipment that you aren’t using right now. Some of them might already be packed for storage. Check them to ensure fragile items are protected. Then you can mark this category off your list.

If it’s warm weather and you find a stack of winter blankets, think about setting them aside. If you plan to move yourself they’ll stand in as extra furniture padding on the truck. And if you’ll have movers do the job, you can use blankets as carton padding for fragile things such as lamps and other decor items.

Prep Items Before Packing

If you’ve ever moved in a hurry, you know how simple it is to wrap some newspaper around an electronic device and hope for the best. This time, only pack items that are ready to go.

Find the remote for electronics so you won’t look for it at your new home. Secure cords using cable ties to keep them from tangling. Gather up user manuals, battery chargers, and accessories, and keep all like items together. When you arrive, you can open one box and find everything that you need to use the item.

Keep a Digital Inventory

There’s nothing wrong with inventorying your belongings using a pad and pen. But there are apps that let you keep track of everything that goes in every box. Most of them let you add photos to the inventory, so you can see at a glance where you coffee pot, coffee and mugs are on your first morning at the new place.

Using barcodes or QR codes, you won’t even have to open boxes to find what you’re looking for. Scan the code, and your app will tell you what’s inside. That way, your snow boots can stay packed until after you’ve set up the coffee pot and had at least one cup.

Packing 101
A tape dispenser makes packing much easier.

Pack Boxes in Layers

United Van Lines recommends packing boxes in layers with the heaviest items on the bottom. That applies to clothing as much as it does to dishes and anything else in your home. Bottom-heavy boxes are easier to carry, and they’re less likely to tip over on the truck.

If you have a number of small boxes, do yourself a favor and pack them inside one larger box. Maybe you’ve acquired a ceramic village for the holidays and kept all of the original packaging (which is smart, by the way) or maybe you have lots of tiny belongings such as jewelry, crafts. Protect them in small containers, but pack those into a larger one. You’ll have less to carry that way.

Avoid Overloading Containers

Imagine this. You’ve picked up a big box and you’ve made it halfway to the moving truck. And that’s when the bottom literally falls out of the whole thing. Box assembly is important. You’ll want to use plenty of packing tape (don’t skimp) and secure it firmly in place. But keeping the load lighter is equally important.

Many moving boxes that you can purchase from a packing store have a weight rating. That helps you decide how much can go inside. You don’t need to weigh every item and approach packing as a precision endeavor. Just use your best judgment, and don’t carry 5 bowling balls in one box, even if they’ll all fit. If you need extra sturdy boxes, check with a liquor store and try to snag some empties.

Label Every Box Using a Marker

QR codes and barcodes are great moving inventory tools. You can print them out and affix them to your containers and know what’s inside with a simple scan of your phone. Print them on stickers or plain paper, either way will work. But what happens if you lose a label somewhere between residences? Nothing can replace a good old fashioned marker.

Mark every box plainly with the name of the room where it should ultimately land. If you lose a sticker, you’ll at least find boxes in the right neighborhood and have fewer to sort through. Always mark the box just before you tape it shut. Don’t wait until later, when you might have forgotten its contents.

Packing up a home ranks about as high on the list of favorite things to do as a root canal and doing your taxes. It’s nobody’s idea of a great time, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm. You really can get through it without losing your sanity. All it takes is a good deal of planning, gathering the right supplies and allowing yourself plenty of time to get the job done.

Packing is one thing, moving is quite another. MoverJunction can help you find a great moving company with reasonable rates and that handles your things with care. Request a moving company quote today.