Want to avoid headaches at your new place? Proper packing is the key. If you don’t pack correctly you’ll end up with a host of transition headaches, from broken dishes to “Which box is it in?” woes.

Many of our customers prefer to do their own packing, either because their items are so personal and private, or because they have budgetary constraints. We understand, but we do want you to be prepared for moving day. Here’s a list of tips to help you pack properly.

“Pre-pack” your home

Packing does not start when you start placing items in boxes. It starts before that, with careful planning and purging.

First, let’s talk about your unwanted items. You’ve probably got a host of clothing, books, and other items that you just don’t want anymore. You’ve got items that you haven’t even looked at for years—they’ve been hiding in closets, and you’ve never needed them. Donate them or sell them so you don’t have to lug them around with you.

Next, schedule an in-home estimate. You’ll get an accurate quote on our packing services. You may be surprised to know how affordable our packing services can be. You may decide you’d like a full-service move after all—but if you just want us to move the larger items, that’s okay too.

Pack the least important items first, and start early

You probably don’t use the majority of your books, board games, and DVDs on a day-to-day basis. You can probably start taking down your photos, nick knacks, and décor items too. The earlier you can start, the less stressed you’ll be. Ideally you’ll begin at least a month before moving day, if not sooner.

Be quite generous with your definition of “non-essential.” You can probably get by on less than you think you can! If it doesn’t help you cook, dress, or bathe then put it into a box.

Get decent tools

Don’t try to run down to the nearest grocery store and score free boxes from the back. It seems frugal, but it creates problems later. These boxes have already been used once, so the cardboard is weakened. They also never come in uniform sizes, which makes it harder to pack the truck later.

Just go right ahead and buy uniform moving boxes. You’ll need three different types. Small, 2-cubic ft. boxes are best for books and other heavy items. Lighter items can be placed in medium to large boxes; 4 and 5 cubic feet. You’ll also need China Barrels for fragile items like dishes. Wardrobe boxes aren’t a bad idea either, since they let you transport your clothes on the hanger.

Buy cushioning material. Crushed newspaper will do. Bubble wrap is even better. Boxes are going to be stacked on top of each other. They’re going to be rocked and jostled in a truck. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Buy packing tape. Buy lots of packing tape. Tape the bottom, top, and side seams of the box. Be generous with tape—it will support the structural integrity of your boxes, which means the bottom of your box won’t suddenly open and spill its contents all over the driveway while the movers carry it into the truck. You might also want to tape puzzle and board game boxes so their contents don’t end up all over the inside of your boxes.

Finally, buy labels—big labels that you can write a lot of information on. Write the name of the room where the box is going. Write the major, important items inside of each box. When you get to really essential items, write “open this box first.”

Start an inventory

A written inventory helps you keep track of the contents of every box. On longer moves it also helps you be certain that every item made it from Point A to Point B. It can give you a nice plan for unpacking your boxes. It’s a bit of extra work, but it can pay off, especially if you live in a large home with a lot of stuff.

There’s even an app for that. There are actually ten really good apps that can help you out with every phase of your move; read the full list here. Of them all, the iPhone app “Moving Day” is perhaps the most innovative. It lets you create QR code labels for your box. You can list every single item in the box when you pack it. Later, when you scan it the contents of that box will pop right up on your phone—useful if you really do need to know where something is before you’ve got everything unpacked at your new home.

Pack it tight

A properly packed box is like a well-executed game of 3D Tetris. Fill up every nook, cranny, and crevice that you can. First, this helps you save boxes. It also means saving some trips for the movers, which could prevent you for having to pay for extra hours of time.

Second, it helps you save packing material. You don’t want the box to be bulging at the seams, but you do want to use every available cubic foot of space so nothing shifts around in there.

Fill each box right to the top.  If you’re running out of space for objects then use towels, socks, sheets, and washcloths to finish the space. Your linens will be packed all over the place, but you’ll provide your stuff with a neat, useful cushion. You’ll still want bubble wrap for your dishes and delicate objects (see above), but the extra padding certainly won’t hurt anything.

Drawers are like built-in boxes, so you might as well use them. Fragile items should go into a box, but your t-shirts can stay right where they are.

Save one empty box

We always recommend that our customers do one more walkthrough of their old home before we pull out, checking rooms, closets, garages and even the back yard for stray items. Keep one small, empty box off to the side. As you walk through the home you can place any stray items in the box. This can either be transported in your car, or, if it’s full enough, placed in the van.

Obviously you don’t want to find too many items. If everything has gone smoothly and you’ve done your packing job correctly then you will hardly find anything at all. Still, it’s better to have the box than to try to juggle a bunch of items to the back of your car.

Feeling overwhelmed?

You don’t have to do all of this packing if you don’t want to. Call 780-434-1100 to schedule an in-home estimate. We’ll give you accurate information about prices, timing, and more.