Moving Tips: Packing It Up

You might know that the Pie and I are moving back to Ottawa in the middle of August.  Now, I’m not a professional mover or anything, but I have moved.  Often.  And because of my fancy set of organizational and OCD skills, I have helped most of my friends move, often more than once. Heck, I can even park a truck.

de la Republique
Oh yeah. That’s between the yellow lines. Just.

Many people find moving to be extraordinarily stressful, but in my opinion that’s simply a result of poor planning.  I have certainly participated in some BAD moves when helping out friends at the last minute.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  So beginning today I have for you some tips I’ve picked up over the years that might help you out, whether you’re moving down the block or to the other side of the world. Today we’re going to focus on the packing process itself.

Re-use, re-use, re-use!

Commercial packing materials are bloody expensive. So if you know you’re going to be moving in a few months, start hoarding your materials. This nice brown packing paper came with something I ordered online, and was very handy in wrapping my fragile items.

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You know what also makes good packing material? Wool. Cotton. Fleece. Here I used a winter scarf to line the bottom of a box containing fragile items. An extra bit of padding goes a long way.

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This scarf makes a great buffer around the edges of the box.

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This one is nice and long and goes around a fragile object enough times to make it safe.

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Don’t move old dirt.

Wash yo’ stuff before you stuff it in a box.  Give everything a good wiping before you stow it away.  No sense in transporting old grease and dust to a new place.

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Put like with like, and stuff within stuff.

You got photos displayed everywhere? Great. Put them all in the same box. Makes it easier to find later. Stack them so they pack nicely. Putting all similar objects together will strengthen them and also make your packing job much more simple.

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Got small or fragile stuff?

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Put it inside other stuff to protect it.

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Heavy stuff on the bottom. Always.

This is just simple physics. If you don’t want your stuff getting broken or dropped or otherwise messed up, put the heavy stuff at the bottom of the box.

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Also remember that the bigger the box you fill, the lighter the stuff is that goes in it. If you can’t lift the box, then chances are a mover (your friend or a professional) isn’t going to be too happy about carrying it either.

Empty space is a bad thing.

Do you have negative space in your box? Fill it the heck up. Even if it’s within an item.

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Remember that any empty spaces in your box allow other items to shift, which could possibly damage your stuff.

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Make sure your boxes are all packed to the gills and secure. A good way to do this is to put smaller items inside a smaller box, packed tight …

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… and then put that smaller box inside a larger box.

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And then fill up any extra space with something squishy.

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Once the box is sealed you should be able to shake it back and forth and not hear anything rattling around inside. If you can hear something, you need to re-pack that box.

A good label goes a long way.

This may seem super OCD to you but it is crucial that you label your boxes properly. Firstly, label your boxes on the SIDE of the box. They’ll all be stacked on top of each other and people can’t read the top if it’s got another box on top.

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Secondly, put your NAME on the boxes. If your moving company is putting your stuff in a big truck and taking it somewhere else, chances are the company is moving someone else’s stuff at the same time. Best way to ensure your boxes don’t get mixed up is if you label them with your name.

Thirdly, put an arrow on the box to show the movers the right side up. No sense in opening boxes upside down!

Fourthly, you’ll want to number your boxes, and create a box inventory. I know, it seems over the top, but it’s a good idea.

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If you number the box, then you’ll know right away if one of them is missing. And if you label the box with the items inside it and the room it is supposed to belong in, then moving day will go that much smoother for you.

A box inventory is also crucial if, like us, you are putting a large number of your items in storage for the short term. This way you don’t have to go opening every box when you are looking for Aunt Mabel’s wedding present.

More tips to follow in the coming months!

Author: allythebell

A corgi. A small boy. A sense of adventure. Chaos ensues.

15 thoughts on “Moving Tips: Packing It Up”

  1. Having moved 25 times in my 38 years, I consider myself an expert packer as well. You give great advice here. I always plan to make a master list, but as I add things to boxes little by little over weeks, it never works out. It is a great idea, though.
    I also think that that it is good to label the sides of the boxes, but I would label the top as well. I label the four sides and the top of every box. You never know what angle you are going to be facing and it could be impossible to move the box.
    Packing the dresser drawers, and any other drawers, tightly is also helpful. It cuts down on the number of boxes.

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    1. Absolutely!

      If we weren’t putting most of our stuff in storage I would probably be less intensive about my list, but having started it I am finding it very helpful indeed.

      And if you tape a sheet of newsprint across the top of the drawer then the items won’t shift or get dirty if the people moving the drawers have to take them out of the dresser. Our dressers are staying in Newfoundland, otherwise I would have included this tip as well, so thanks for that.

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  2. Very good tips! I would also add – when you pack books, lay them flat. If you stand them on edge and items are placed on top of them, the books will get squashed into weird shapes! (I am sure you know this…)

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  3. Great ideas, especially the numbering one. I write each item on the side of the box as I put it in as I tend to pack over several days, then make a list from the outside of my boxes. We are moving in about a month so look forward to your tips, though this move should be much easier as its only 2 suburbs over, not different countries like our last move.

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  4. These are really awesome tips and the most important thing that I could get from here is that they have shown in pics that how the different belongings can be packed while we have to pack them safely.

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  5. I’m moving in 3 weeks & have not even began packing. My fiance & I are moving in together; so, it’s moving 2 apartments into one – def need to stay organized with this! This is exactly what I needed right now! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. Yikes! Well good luck with that. I remember when the Pie and I moved in together we had duplicates of pretty much everything and would argue about who got to keep their thing and who had to throw theirs out. Mostly I won. 🙂

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