Moving and Packing Tips

Because relocation timelines and situations are different for everyone, it’s hard to write a one-size-fits-all guide filled with packing and moving tip s. I’ve learned some lessons the hard way. Favorites include:

• Rental or moving truck reservations should always be reconfirmed
• Social security cards and other important paperwork should be filed back in their proper place when done and not left in my top dresser drawer
• Sort and purge before moving; better yet, declutter on a regular basis (full story here)

Getting organized and ready for your move:

Using a spiral notebook each time we move, despite my fondness for digital files and lists, works best for me. And yes, I would use the same again. I add notes and items on the fly. Multiple lists, categorized, with a few pages in between each category for flexibility, random thoughts and scribbles fill the notebook.

The back of the notebook is used, beginning on the last page working forwards, for random notes and thoughts to be either categorized later, or done quickly the same day.

The notebook fits easily into my bag. I keep track of things I need to do and mark them complete with the date. There was plenty of room for extra notes.

A side note, or moving tip, from experience. This probably isn’t the right time to try something new. Use whatever method and size you are most comfortable with, paper or digital. And then, once you’re in your new place, then go experience new things (lots of ideas in this online course).

Making your moving checklist(s):

Once you’ve obtained your “notebook” of choice, create a master list of everything you need to do and take into consideration, such as:

  • Hire movers and packers or DIY, rent a truck – do this ASAP. Confirm dates and seriously, double check your reservation
  • Change of address for mail, credit cards, phone bill, etc.
  • License: If moving to a new state, you may have to take their written drivers tests
  • Utility and cable companies – disconnect and reconnect service
  • Banking
  • Transfer medical records
  • Children: school records, medical, activities
  • Pets: transfer vet records; consider boarding them when your stuff is being delivered at new place.

Declutter Before Packing:

Whether you follow Marie Kondo and keep only those things that spark joy or not, I highly recommend decluttering before you move. Imagine, if you will, arriving at your new home and unpacking only the things that you need and love, rather than an overabundance of things you don’t use or want anymore. Moving less will save you time and money (bonus moving tip!).

Quick tips:
Create 3 piles: donate, recycle and trash.

Once you’ve removed what’s not moving with you, group remaining items together that will go into the same room in your new place. This will speed up the process of unpacking.

Moving companies will not pack and move liquids, such as dish soap, shampoos and cleaning supplies. I suggest giving away what you won’t be moving and packing what you will in your car.


Moving boxes stack more easily when they are the same size. If you get boxes from a grocery or liquor store, please make sure they are clean. Reach out in an online community group to see who’s moved recently and has boxes. Start collecting boxes as soon as you can.

Pack what you aren’t using first and a little at a time. Books and heavy items should be packed in smaller boxes to prevent boxes from getting too heavy.

I’ve always used paper, either newspaper or paper from a moving company. Packing paper doesn’t stain like newspaper can. Bubble wrap is an option, as are dishtowels and table cloths and other soft items to protect dishes and breakables.

At the very minimum, label boxes with the room name. When packing an item that you are going to need when you get there, include the name of the item on the box. Consider creating a master list or lists of what are in the boxes. I prefer the element of surprise on the other end of the move and don’t create lists.

Clear bins are great for items that don’t need to be unpacked right away, and nice because you can easily see what’s inside. Movers should put packing tape on the bins to keep them secure during transportation.

Stuff to Move with You:

There will be items that you want to move with you. Important paperwork such as passports, social security cards, wills, insurance policies, possible valuables or heirlooms, etc. that you don’t want someone else handling. Find a good spot in your house to start a pile and then start placing things into some boxes or a bag.

Pull together any necessary cleaning supplies and place near the pile, too.

Pack clothes and toiletries for the number of days needed plus 2. Or at least pack extra underwear and socks, just in case.

Other items you may need while you wait for the moving truck:
• Air mattresses, sheets and towels
• Toilet paper, paper towels (can be used as napkins), tissues and a few dishes, to go bottles and utensils or the disposable kind, also
• Coffee or tea essentials
• Food, if needed. This also may be a good time to start exploring your new area and getting acclimated
• Don’t forget to pack phone and tablet chargers
• Favorite music, shows, and movies; whatever you need to find your calm in the midst of chaos (fun moving tip) 

After your Move | Recovering from Relocation:

Moving is hard, and also an adventure. Melody Warnick, author of This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, and I created RELOCATION RECOVERY, an online course designed to help you thrive through the post-relocation period. This course will help you process emotions, find joy, connect faster in your new place, and so MUCH more. For more information, click here to go straight to the course, or read more here.