Making the Move: Packing Tips, Part Two

A woman on blue top squatting by parked boxes to mark them with an ink for delivery

One way to make the moving process easier? Go through each room of your house and create a packing plan for each one.

To pack more efficiently, take it room by room.

During the packing process, you are reintroduced to all your stuff and get to know it again on an even-more familiar level than before.

You consider each item from several angles: How useful is it? Has it worn out its welcome? Do I anticipate it being a meaningful part of my household in the future? What memories does it conjure up? Will I really feel all that guilty if I get rid of it? Can someone else make better use of it?

Scrutinizing your belongings is a great technique to inch away from any slight hoarding tendencies and it also makes packing easier. When a stranger hired to pack your things fills a box, the label must detail its contents. For you, a simple label of “bedroom” or “bathroom” will suffice.

Professional organizer Katherine Trezise suggests labeling boxes according to the room the items will be placed in your new home, which may be different from your current home.

Another great tip from Trezise: Before you pack everything away, create a “first-night” box to carry with you. It should contain house keys, cell phone and charger, medicines, snacks, sheets, towels, soap, toilet paper and anything else you’ll need to unpack and use upon your arrival.

Here are some more tips to help you pack efficiently for each room of the home:

Kitchen

Because the kitchen is full of items that are regularly used, not much needs to be thrown away. Little packing time is spent deciding what to keep, so the kitchen is one of the fastest and easiest to pack. “My favorite packing secret is to pack dishes, trays and the like vertically, not horizontally, in boxes,” says certified professional organizer Amy Trager. “The less pressure of stacked boxes on the surface of the dishes means it’s less likely to crack and break in transit.”

Boxes: Use smaller boxes since dishes and utensils are heavy.

Packing Materials: As for packing materials, thin plastic foam sheets between plates will do for every day dinnerware, but china and other breakables fare better in bubble packaging material. Cloth napkins, dish towels and table clothes are also useful. On the other hand, newspaper is an enormous hassle because of the ink marks it leaves behind — having to wash every dish in your new home will not be your favorite way to settle in.

You’d be smart to save the original packaging for small countertop appliances such as coffee makers and blenders. Nothing protects them better than the boxes designed to contain them. But if you tossed them, use a box slightly larger than the appliance and wrap the appliance in bubble packaging material to be sure it doesn’t break. It might be small, but that $400 juicer is expensive to replace.

Bedrooms

Except for the sheets and blankets on the bed and outfits you wear regularly, most of the bedroom can be packed a month before your move. This gives you time to decide if there are any items you want to let go of. For larger items that don’t sell, remember that the Salvation Army will pick them up if you call in advance to schedule with them. Call the local branch a few days before your desired pick-up date.

Boxes: Wardrobe boxes are the best. Wardrobe boxes are easiest to pack because all you have to do is places clothes on hangers on the inside bar, just like a closet. If you hold on to wire hangers from the dry cleaners, you can put most of your shirts, pants and dresses in wardrobe boxes. Medium-sized boxes are ideal for folded clothes, because clothing is relatively light (compared to countertop appliances and books).

Packing Materials: Any folded clothes should be placed in a large plastic bag before they are boxed up in case the boxes get wet in transit.

Living Room/Media Room

If you’ve gotten a head start on the living room by packing decorative items, books and other objects that aren’t used daily, it will be the fastest room in the house to pack. The movers will handle most of its contents, because furniture dominates this room. DVDs, board games, CDs and smaller A/V equipment are all evenly sized, which makes them a snap to pack.

Boxes: Save the box for your flat screen because nothing protects your TV the way the original box does. Moving pros say that flat-screen televisions are more likely to break in transit if they are in a generic box as opposed to the original.

Use small boxes for CDs and other living room items. The weight adds up fast. “Pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top,” says Kerri Hart of Atlas Van Lines. “Don't exceed 50 pounds per box; it makes moving them a lot easier.”

Office

If your office is at all disorganized, packing can be difficult, unless you want to stack papers and files in boxes indiscriminately. This is one room where detailed labels can really be helpful later on as you unpack.

“If there's a space in the home that only one person uses, like the office, have them either do the packing or, at least, assist with packing,” Trager says. “They are the ideal person to pack their items in a manner that makes sense for how they will use the space.”

Wait until the day before your move to pack your desktop computer — you’d be surprised how many files you want to access right up to the move. Laptops can go with you in the car, so there’s no need to pack them in anything but their case.

Bathroom

Root through every toiletry in your cabinets and discard those that are mostly used, never used or otherwise undesirable. What is left can be packed into small boxes lined with garbage bags, as toiletries can easily leak.

Keep an empty box on your bathroom counter for the items you use every day. You’ll be using them for your last shower or bath in the house and it’s easiest to have a box set aside for just that purpose. Also, keep a laundry bag on hand for the few dirty clothes that were worn the previous day when you finished packing.

Plants

Many movers will not transport your plants long distances for you, so if you have large potted plants that will be difficult to move yourself, come up with a plan. Will you trailer them behind your own vehicle to your final destination? Will you give them away?

If you’re a plant person and you love your plants, you’ll feel horrible leaving them behind to die, so make sure you’ve arranged for a good home for them, whether that be in your new house or that of a fellow plant lover.

Closets

Many of us make the mistake of waiting to pack the closets until the very last minute, only to find monstrous amounts of things hidden in the back. Reverse the trend and sort through your closets in advance of the main rooms. Getting a jump on your nooks and crannies will save you a lot of hassle in the end.

Pets

Your pets will come with you in your vehicle when you move. If you have cats or dogs, you’ll notice that the moving process has probably upset them a bit. They may be confused and irritated. Be sure you keep a close eye on them, especially indoor/outdoor cats, as they may go into hiding and not be around the house when the movers come.

Dogs are sentimental, so there is a benefit to walking your pup around the house and yard for a last goodbye and taking one more walk around the neighborhood before setting off. Keep their favorite pet food in the car to feed them on the way. With all these changes, they might not love eating strange pet food from convenience stores as you travel.

By creating a plan ahead of time, you’ll make the packing — and moving — process simple for you and your family. The less stress you face in this phase means an enjoyable transition to your new home.

Sarah Ristorcelli is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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