20 Incredibly Useful Packing Tips to Make Moving Much Easier

moving tips

Packing all of your family’s belongings into a few dozen boxes can be tough. When you’re surrounded by cardboard, treasured possessions, and parcel tape, the whole process can seem never ending. It doesn’t need to be this way.

We’ve put together a useful guide to make planning, preparing, packing, moving, and unpacking simple and easy. A little planning and preparation now will help your moving day go smoothly and get you settled in your new home as quickly as possible.

Below you’ll find lots of practical advice on what to do before you start packing, how to pack effectively, and tips for moving day.

Before you start packing

1. Make sure you’ve got the right tools

Gather the right tools and buy or borrow the following items:

  • Knife and scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Furniture dolly
  • Toolkit: To take items apart (and put them back together). Look for one with a screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wrench, set of spanners, and some multi-purpose oil.

2. Follow these safety tips

Knives and scissors

  • Keep all knives and sharp objects away from children.
  • Always point knives and scissors away from you when you’re moving around, with the point towards the floor. If you have a sheath or a foldable knife, always put the blade away before walking around.
  • Always cut away from yourself.
  • Avoid distractions when using sharp objects.

Boxes and items

  • Lift boxes and items properly: Learn how to lift by bending and lifting with your legs and keeping your back straight. Lifting using your back can lead to strains and injuries.
  • Never obscure your vision when you’re carrying boxes: This can lead to trips and falls. Before you move boxes around, make sure your path is clear of tripping hazards.

3. Declutter and get rid of what you don’t need

One easy way to save money on your move is to go through your items and donate or get rid of anything you don’t need. This means your load will be lighter—and if you’re moving yourself, that’s a few less boxes you’ll have to haul.

If your trash pile ends up full of larger items like that ratty old sofa you’ve had since college or the fridge that finally gave up the ghost, you might need help clearing off your curb. Our top three junk removal companies can lend a hand, or you can look into renting a dumpster for a little DIY trash removal.

4. Digitize your media

Digitizing your media will reduce the number of CDs, photos, Blu-rays, and books you need to move.

5. Plan your packing and get supplies

It’s time to plan your packing in detail. Go to each room in your house and work out what packing materials you’re going to need.

  • Plenty of adhesive tape: Brown parcel tape is ideal. You’ll probably use around three to four yards of tape for each packing box. Buy a tape dispenser to avoid sticky fingers.
  • Thick black markers: To label and inventory your boxes.
  • Boxes: Buy boxes from your moving company, get used boxes from grocery stores, or get them online. You’ll need regular packing boxes, boxes for mirrors and pictures, dish and plate boxes, and file boxes.
  • Suitcases: To pack soft items and clothing.
  • Roll of thick trash bags: To protect your clothes and soft items.
  • Bubble wrap and packing peanutsTo protect your fragile items.
  • Plastic sheeting or film: To protect your furniture.



If your mover doesn’t provide packing supplies, you’ll likely find them online. From mattress bags to utility knives, here’s a handy list of all the moving supplies you’ll need.

6. Protect your valuable items with moving insurance

If you have jewelry, art, antiques, electronics, or other expensive items, look into moving insurance to cover damages and loss.

It might be included in your home insurance policy or you could add it. It’s also widely available online.

7. Make sure everything is going to fit

It’s time to break out the tape measure. You’ll want to measure:

  • The size of any large items, furniture, and appliances
  • The width of door frames in your old and new homes
  • The size of the rooms in your new home

Check to see if your items are going to fit through the doors and plan what furniture you want to put in which rooms. Getting through tight doors is easier if you take furniture apart or take the door off its hinges.

How to pack effectively

8. You’ll thank yourself for your inventory

Creating an inventory of your boxes and labeling everything clearly will make things much easier. Although we talk about labelling boxes below, you should also inventory your furniture and other large items. We’ve created a free inventory checklist you can print out and fill in.

  1. Number your boxes sequentially and write the numbers on your inventory sheet.
  2. Note the room things are coming from on your inventory sheet.
  3. Write the room the boxes will go to in your new home on the box and your inventory sheet.
  4. Write the contents on the inventory sheet and the box.
  5. Label and inventory boxes with fragile contents.
  6. Note any boxes with valuables on your inventory sheet.

Each box should have a number, the room in your new house, content descriptions, and whether they are fragile.

Your inventory sheet will have everything on the boxes plus where they’re coming from in your old house, and whether they have valuable contents.

9. Pack everything in the right order

Start packing in the room farthest from your front door. This will help you and your family avoid tripping over boxes as they move around your home.

In each room, sort and pack items by how quickly you’ll need them after you move. This will let you unpack the most important boxes in your new home. Remember to label and inventory your boxes.

10. Make sure your boxes are secure

how to make your own box handles - move.org

Tape each of your boxes. Use tape on the bottom seam of the box, the seams between the sides and bottom of the box, and across bottom of the box in the middle. If you’re putting heavy items in the box, double up on the tape.

Cut your own handles if your boxes don’t have them. Cut a slit about 4–5 inches below the top of the box, then make another cut below the first one at a right angle. The top of that cut should connect with the first cut. Fold the flaps of cardboard back to create a triangular hole for your hands.

11. Protect your fragile items

Sort your fragile items into the fewest amount of packing boxes. Use newspapers, T-shirts, socks, sweatshirts, and other clothes to wrap and protect them. Fill in the spaces between the items with more clothes, newspaper, packing chips or bubble wrap. If you’ve still got the original boxes for your electronic items, repack them in those boxes.

The items shouldn’t move or rub against each other when the box is lifted or shaken. Remember to label the boxes as “fragile.”

12. Gather your valuable items together

Sort your valuable items into the smallest number of packing boxes you can. These are boxes you’ll want to move personally in your car.

Put easily tangled items like necklaces and small valuables into an ice cube tray. Put some cling wrap over the tray to keep everything in place.

13. Pack your boxes

Group together similar items and pack them into your boxes and suitcases. Remember to fill the spaces between the items with newspaper or other packing materials. Don’t overload your boxes; all of them should be liftable by one person.

14. Pack your toiletries and liquids

Keep toiletries, cleaning products, chemicals, and other liquids safe when you move them.

  • Pack all liquids together into boxes and don’t put any other items in those boxes.
  • Put toiletries into individual bags so if they leak, the spillage will be contained.
  • Tape the lids of cleaning products and other chemicals shut and tape a bag over the bottles or lids.
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Keep your move as mess-free as possible with more tips on how to move liquids.

15. Pack your wardrobe

Packing your family’s wardrobes is easy:

  1. Keep all the clothes on their hangers.
  2. Gather together around 10 clothing items on hangers.
  3. Pull a trash bag over the clothes from the bottom.
  4. Bring the top of the trash bag up to the necks of the hangers and bind it with tape.

Keep doing this until you’ve got all of the clothes into trash bags.

16. Deal with cables and furniture

The back of your TV, computer, or Blu-ray player probably looks like a bowl of spaghetti. Photograph where all the cables are plugged in so you’ll have a handy reference guide for when you’ve moved.

Unplug the cables and coil each of them and put them into resealable plastic bags or inside empty toilet roll tubes. Label the bags or tubes with where the cables are plugged in (e.g., “laptop to monitor,” “Roku to TV,” etc.).

Take larger items of furniture apart. Remove legs from chairs and deconstruct bed frames. Secure any screws or other small items in resealable plastic bags, label them, and tape them to the furniture they belong with.

Cover your soft furniture with plastic sheeting or wrap. This will help to protect it from tears and dirt.

17. Don’t forget yard tools

Wrap any sharp edges of gardening tools with newspaper or cardboard. Remove the handle of your lawnmower and keep any screws and other items together. If you’re moving a shed, take it apart ahead of time—if you don’t have instructions, photograph every step so you know how to put it back together.

18. Pack any overnight essentials

Pack an overnight bag, box (or more) of essentials, including the following:

  • Items you’ll need straightaway in your new home, like towels, washcloths, cutlery, toiletries, bed linens, pillows, a toolkit, etc.
  • Fridge and freezer items
  • Anything else you’ll need on your last night in your old home and your first day in your new one

Tips for moving day

19. Pack everything into the moving truck backwards

As you’re packing the moving truck, ask your movers to pack the boxes and items closest to the front door in your new house first. When they unpack from the back of the truck, they’ll automatically move the boxes furthest from the front door first. This makes the whole process of moving quicker and safer.

Use your inventory list and check off every box and item as it’s loaded into the truck.

20. Unpack in your new home

When you arrive at your new home, check off the boxes on your inventory as they’re unloaded, and make sure they go to the right rooms. If you see any damage, take a photo and ask your movers to confirm it. Once you’ve got all the boxes into the right rooms, the fun of unpacking can begin.

Although moving home can be stressful, this guide will help you make sure you’ve got everything together. Just remember, it’s the start of a new chapter in your family’s life, and you’re going to start building new memories and having great experiences.

Although moving home can be stressful, this guide will help you make sure you’ve got everything together. Just remember, it’s the start of a new chapter in your family’s life, and you’re going to start building new memories and having great experiences.

Have any moving and packing tips you swear by? Share them with us in the comments below!

About Christa Baxter

Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than seven years. She leads the Move.org content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.)
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