7 Moving Tips to Make Packing and Unpacking Easier

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Whether this is your first move, or you’re a frequent traveler, you can make your move much easier with a plan. Follow these easy steps for the smoothest possible transition.

7 Tips for a Big Move
Image: Robert S. Donovan on Flickr

1. Collect packing materials. This is a big one. The last thing you want to do is to forget something, break something, or make the unpacking process painful. Gather supplies in one easy-to-locate spot to make packing your belongings easy.

Must-Haves:

  • black permanent markers (lots of them)
  • packing tape with a sturdy handle
  • plastic totes and/or free cardboard boxes
  • bubble wrap and/or packing paper
  • labels (optional)

2. Clearly label your containers. Use black permanent markers, so you can see clearly what is in each box. Some people prefer to write on the box itself; you may need adhesive labels if you're using totes. I recommend labeling boxes by room, and then bullet-pointing some defining items to make them easy to find once you’re in the new place. No one wants to hunt for the toilet paper!

Clear plastic totes are a great alternative to cardboard boxes, because you can see their contents. Plastic totes are also reusable. Should it take you a while to unpack, your items are safe from critters and various elements. To use totes most effectively, pack what you won’t immediately need, especially anything of sentimental value you don't want to expose to dirt and moisture.

3. Protect breakables. Wrap your breakable items in packing paper or bubble wrap, and label these boxes as “fragile.” If you're moving a long distances, I recommend using painter's tape to “X” the glass on any pictures or frames you may be moving, Should the glass break, you’ll have less of a mess if you've taped it up.

4. Unload your goods to their designated areas. It’s easy to just throw it all in the home and then organize later, but if you take the time to place your boxes in their designated rooms you’ll be much happier about the unpacking process. In this method, you’re eliminating a lot of steps to put things where they go once it’s time to unpack the boxes.

5. As you unpack, recycle the leftovers. First and foremost, please recycle or pass along your cardboard boxes and packing paper. They may be helpful to someone else. If, while unpacking, you can’t find a home for something, try to let go.

I quickly found that I was packing up a lot of things we weren't using in our day-to-day life. When it came time to unpack, I found things that didn't have a designated home, or seemed unnecessary in new surroundings. Take the time to purge the trash, recycle the rest, and remember that there are many community organizations that will happily pick up your leftovers for free!

6. Change your address. This is self-explanatory. Make sure you feel out your change-of-address forms and compile a list of everyone who needs to be notified of the address change. Make sure to follow through with contacting services to take the stress out of missing mail or packages. Don’t rely on the post office to do the work for you—they are people, too.

7. Consider delivery. If you are too overwhelmed by the process, use one of several companies out there that will make the move for you. During long-distance moves, some people find it helpful to take the smaller items that they can’t live without and leave the furniture behind. When you arrive, visit a one-stop shop for home furnishings, and set up delivery to take the hassle out of shopping.

8. Lastly, try to slow down and embrace the change.<.strong> Moving can be very stressful, especially if you are moving with children, across country, or for the first time. Taking a little time to plan ahead will make a big difference.

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