If you’re reading this because you’ve got a move coming up, there’s no reason to dread the big day. These 11 tips can make the packing process a lot less painful.
MAKE A PACKING KIT.
Getting organized before the packing even begins will save you a lot of time and heartache later on. A good packing kit will include a lot of fat permanent markers, multiple pairs of scissors, several different-colored rolls of duct tape, a notebook, pens, a bottle of water, and a satisfying snack. We’ll get to the colored duct tape, notebook, and pens in a moment. The water and snack are crucial—moving is hard work, but you can make it a little easier by staying hydrated and energized.
DON’T PAY FOR BOXES.
Talk to your friends and coworkers. Ask around the mailroom at your workplace. Check out local grocery and big-box stores. There are free cardboard boxes just about everywhere; all you have to do is ask.
DON’T GET HELP PACKING OR UNPACKING.
“Where does this go?” “How should I pack this?” “Do you really wear this shirt?” Don’t spend your time fielding questions: It will be a whole lot faster to pack and unpack your stuff by yourself. You should, however, recruit friends and family for loading and unloading, which will be faster with their help. A pizza bribe is customary.
COLOR-CODE YOUR STUFF.
Here’s where the duct tape comes in. Pick one color for each room in your house, and slap a square of colored duct tape on each side of your boxes. This makes the new location of each box visible at a glance. You’ll appreciate it later, when all you have to tell your friends is “red boxes go in the kitchen.”
KEEP AN INVENTORY.
And this is why we recommend a notebook. Write a number on each box as you pack it, and record what’s inside. It doesn’t have to be specific; “baby clothes” or “towels” should do the trick. You can use this list to check what’s been loaded or unloaded. It’ll also come in handy later when you can’t figure out what you did with your towels.
MAKE A FIRST-NIGHT BOX.
Of all our tips, this one is probably the most important. Save one big box for things you’ll need once you reach your destination. After a day of moving, it’s unlikely you’ll want to start unpacking right away, so you’ll be glad you have the essentials handy. We recommend including toilet paper, paper towels, plastic cups for water, toothbrushes and toothpaste, washcloths, towels, a change of clothes or pajamas, and scissors.
USE VERY SMALL BOXES FOR BOOKS.
Books are a lot heavier than they look. It’s much better to make many trips with moderately light boxes than to throw your back out. This is one reason it will be great to have your friends helping: six people carrying one (light) box of books each is a lot faster than one person making six trips.
PURGE EXPIRED MEDICINES AND MAKEUP.
Don’t stress too much about every little thing you pack. (No one has time for that!) However, this could be a great opportunity to lighten your load by chucking expired medications, toiletries, and makeup. Medicines, including over-the-counter drugs, are marked with expiration dates. Any toiletries and makeup that are more than a year or two old are ready for the trash.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.
Garbage bags are your friend, especially for lightweight and soft items that don’t need to be stored flat or kept wrinkle-free. Think pillows, blankets, socks, undergarments, bathing suits, and pajamas.
KEEP A GIVE-AWAY BOX OR BAGS HANDY.
Once again: this is not the time to agonize over your belongings. But you may find that as you pack, you find a lot of stuff that has no place in your life. Having a clearly labeled give-away bag or box nearby will make it easy for you to dump these items without giving it a second thought.
GET CREATIVE IN COMBINING ITEMS.
You can cut down on the number of boxes you pack by making your stuff do double-duty. Don’t wrap your dishware and other breakable objects in paper or packing peanuts; you’ve got perfectly good soft and durable packing materials in your linen cupboard and closet. Pack two things in one by stuffing clean socks into glassware and wrapping it in a shirt. You can wrap framed photos in pillowcases or towels, and lamps in thick blankets. Worried you’ll forget where you put essentials? Don’t forget to write it on the inventory.