8 Essential Packing Tips for a Long-Distance Move

About 40 million Americans relocate in a given year, and it’s often a long-distance move. Whether it’s a relocation for a job or another life event, the packing procedure before moving to a new city can feel daunting, so consider these tips.

1. Create an Inventory List

An inventory list is essential when organizing and packing items for a long-distance move. Make a list using a computer spreadsheet, a to-do app, or standard paper and pen. Organize the list by room and add subcategories for areas like “closet” or “bookcase.” This list can help you decide what items you may not wish to move. Sell, donate, or discard anything not being packed.

Create a column for box numbers; this lets you know that the toaster is in Kitchen Box 3. Another column to add is: “notes.” In the notes column, enter additional information about the individual item or its box; fragile, unpack first, and storage. Be sure to have more than one copy of your inventory list.

2. Box Labeling and Color Coding

When packing for a long-distance move, box labeling is crucial.

●   Name of the room the box goes to —  kitchen, bedroom, etc.

●   Sub-category for the contents: books, collectibles, baby toys

●   A number that corresponds with the inventory list

●   A color dot if using a color-code system

Assign each person in the household and each room a color label for the move. Each box for that individual and room gets their specific color dot. It’s an easy, visual way to organize the boxes pre-move and after arriving at the new home. Color-coding often works great with kids; they can quickly identify their boxes and relieve some stress when relocating.

3. Handling Important Documents

Make copies of everything when possible. Electronic copies are often best, but if not available, copy what you can, including, but not limited to, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, wills, insurance documents, and vehicle titles. Keep the originals separate from the copies.

File boxes work well for moving documents and important papers, which may also include family photos and diplomas. Consider placing items like passports, social security cards, and other sensitive information in opaque envelopes and then in a sealed file. Label the box and, if possible, move this box yourself.

4. Open-First Box(es)

The open-first box typically gets packed last. It’s the box or boxes with things needed for the first day/night. Everyone’s open-first boxes vary, but they usually contain things like toiletry items, towels, bedding, blankets, pet dishes, and a few essential kitchen items. Be sure to label these boxes as open first.

5. Wardrobe Boxes

Wardrobe boxes make packing and unpacking closets fast and easy. It eliminates having to remove items from hangers and packing in regular boxes. They may be available in different sizes and found at home improvement stores or through your moving company.

6. Extra Care for Fragile Items

Fragile items need extra care — bubble wrap and packing paperwork for glass, porcelain, and other breakables. However, you can also use tee-shirts, pillowcases, and towels as extra padding to keep fragile items safe.

7. Designated Area for Packed Boxes

To keep your living space organized while preparing for a long-distance move, designate an area for packed boxes. These are the boxes that are labeled, sealed, and ready to go on the moving truck. It can be helpful to get packed boxes out of a room, allowing you to see exactly how much is left to pack, donate, sell, or trash.

8. Straight to Storage

You likely have items that live in storage, maybe in an attic, closet, or basement. If not already boxed, pack the items in boxes or totes, and then label “storage.” These are some of the first items to pack, and when they arrive at the other end, these “storage” boxes don’t need to be unpacked immediately.

Additional Moving Help

Be sure to check with your long-distance moving company for any specific packing instructions and for their list of items that they don’t move. You’ll need to make other arrangements for do-not-ship items.

Tips to Help Declutter Before a Household Move

Moving into a new house, apartment, or townhome is an excellent opportunity to simplify your life and free your space of unnecessary clutter. The tricky part when reducing your household bulk is deciding what to move into your new home – and what items should be donated, given away, or discarded.

Tips for Decluttering

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Go through your current home one room at a time. Start with the least used room and pack the items inside this room first. Tape the bottom of a few different size cartons based on the contents in the room. In your notebook, write down each room’s name, number each box, put the number in your notebook with a list of contents, and write that number on the box with a brief content list.

Pack everything you know you want. You’ll know what those items are because you won’t have to ask yourself if you really want to take them. When a carton is full to the top, seal it with tape. 

When you have packed all the things in that room that you know you want in your new home, leave the room and close the door.

Repeat this process with every room in your home, including the basement, attic, shed, and garage.

When every room has packed boxes in it, start the process over again. Go to room one. Look around. If there is something you really want, pack it. If you’re on the fence, leave the room and close the door

A few days before move out day, contact friends and in exchange for pizza, have them pick a room, and take whatever is left inside to the donation station or to the trash bin. Provide large trash bags.

Bonus Tip:

If you’re packing yourself, buy supplies from a professional long-distance mover

Professional movers buy from suppliers who adhere to specific and strict guidelines. Cartons are tested, inspected, and rated to hold the amount stamped on the bottom. This means they won’t crush when stacked levels high inside a moving van and driven across the country. They will withstand being stacked and placed into a wood container and shipped by van, or loaded into a warehouse storage vault. 

Buy the packing paper and tape from the professional mover as well because they buy in bulk and will charge you a few cents over cost. 

Follow the 6-Month Rule

There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but get rid of things you haven’t used in the past six months. Usually, if you haven’t used an item in six months, you’re probably never going to use it.

As noted, this does not include the obvious things like seasonal clothes, holiday decor, and momentoes with sentimental attachment.

Instead, eliminate items that are unnecessary, duplicates, broken, or just not used anymore.

Bonus Tip:

You might find that you have a couple of oversized items that are logistically tough to get rid of. Tell your move estimator which large items you don’t want to take and ask if the company will dispose of them for you. Often, if there are a few items, the movers will take and discard at no cost. But if it’s an old solid oak baby grand piano and you live on the third floor without an elevator — that may cost you!

Lessen Your Stress

Moving is stressful enough without the additional pressure of having to make tough choices about decluttering and downsizing. There is no need to stress yourself out further by struggling with whether or not to take something you own and love with you or toss it out. 

Give yourself a break. When in doubt, pack the items and take them with you. It’s okay to keep your belongings until you truly know and are ready to part with them. Timing is important. Give yourself all the time you need. When the time is right, you’ll know what to do.

Moving Made Easy

Whether you’re downsizing or moving to a larger space, it’s good to have a friend look at what you own with a critical, non-emotional eye to help.

Moving into a new home can be a fresh start. You will want to keep the things that bring joy or purpose to you or your family.

Are you still looking for moving help? Contact us for a free quote today.