10 Must-Haves You Need On-Hand Before Packing to Move

For me, packing is the absolute worst part of packing. At least in my case, my family and friends would have no idea how to pack things the way I'd want them packed. And I wouldn't want them sitting there watching me pack, being bored out of their minds. Speaking of boring, it is. It's so easy to get sucked into an episode of Downton Abbey while sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes. Then another episode. Then suddenly three hours are gone. And third, it's completely overwhelming.

When you're just starting to pack up, you've got a big mission ahead of you. The best thing is to get focused, stay caffeinated, and keep building momentum. The last thing you need is to realize you're out of tape, your marker has dried up, or the canister of coffee is empty.

Before I even touch a moving box, I'll be rounding up the packing supplies I already have on hand and hitting up the dollar store for the rest of them. Here are my packing must-haves:

1. Duct Tape
It seals up boxes better than mailing tape. It's easier to rip off a piece of than mailing tape. I can wear it around my wrist like a bracelet. (So moving day chic.) And it comes in pretty colors like turquoise. I dig those little details.

2. Floor Plan
Spatially inaccurate? Fine. Hand-drawn? No biggie. Just sketch up a rough floor plan of your new place that gives your helpers an idea of what empty room is what. Then, go the extra mile by coloring each room a different color and labeling it: KIT, LIV, B1, B2, etc. (Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom 1, Bedroom 2... see?!)

3. Sharpies
Have a few Sharpies on hand. Not the super thick ones or the tiny fine point ones; these are hard to read. Just the basic, good old-fashioned Sharpie. Use it for marking up your floor plan and a few other soon-to-be-named supplies.

4. Plastic Baggies
This is something new I'm using during this movie: plastic baggies in various sizes. Sandwich baggies and small baggies, to be specific. I'll use these to hold jewelry that I don't want getting tangled up, push pins for my bulletin board, office supplies like paper clips, and other small items that can get easily lost.

5. Colored Labels
Now, there are a few ways to do this. You could buy colored labels that coordinate to your floor plan colors. You could buy plain labels and write on them with a colored marker. Or you could buy plain labels and stick a color coordinated circle stick that matches up to your floor plan. Whichever way you choose, color coordinate your packing. For example, the bathroom might be colored in yellow on the floor plan. So use a yellow label on the boxes containing bathroom stuff. On the label, be sure to write what's in the box. You don't have to list everything out, just a basic idea. Like: "Office Supplies and Notepads." If you're putting something fragile in the box, consider slapping on an extra special label or just write "fragile" all over the box to be safe.

6. Newspaper
You'll need packing material to keep your breakables unbroken. I actually use my scarves and t-shirts for my favorite delicate items. Then, I move on to newspaper for the remaining fragile things.

7. Boxes, Boxes, Boxes
Don't even think about packing until you have at least a few boxes on hand. Ask local grocery stores when their stock comes in; that's when they have boxes to spare. You can swing by early in the morning to take them or if your store is super nice they might hold them for you. Same goes for hardware stores, big box stores, etc. (Though places like Lowe's and Home Depot will often just direct you to their aisle of moving boxes you can purchase, which you really don't need to do.) Ask coworkers, friends, and family members for spare boxes, too. People are pretty generous with getting rid of cardboard they don't want to haul to the recycling center.

8. Space Savers
This is something else I'm trying for the first time for a move. My boyfriend G tested out those space saver bags that you suck the air out of with a vacuum. They really worked for compressing some blankets, comforters, and sweaters down into a manageable size. So I'm going to pick some up for out-of-season clothing and other things that need to go into storage.

9. Garbage Bags
I'm a big believer in using garbage bags to move. Mainly, I use them for clothes, bedding, pillows, and blankets. You see, packing those textiles into boxes often ends up with a bulging box that often bursts open at the corners - even when it's not that heavy. Garbage bags keep the fabrics clean, make them easily accessible when unpacking, and as long as you don't tear them or stretch them out to the point of ripping, you can re-use the garbage bags in your actual trash can.

10. Coffee
This is the last must-have, but I really should have moved it to the top of the list. Before anything else, caffeinated yourself. Packing and moving is draining. So perk up with java and don't let it run out. (You know that if you make a Starbucks run you'll also end up browsing the clearance aisles at Target for a good two hours and come home with a bunch of stuff you don't need and will have to pack into another box.)

Anything I missed? What are your packing essentials?

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Carolyn said...

I would also add to this list a suitcase/overnight bag for all the essentials you need the day/night you move in. No one should be tortured with trying to find toilet paper, contact solution, and pajamas after a long day of moving.

Jessica • The Lovely Side said...

Thanks for your tip, Carolyn! I was going to pack a box like this, but using a suitcase or overnight bag is so much smarter – and it won't get lost looking like the rest of the boxes. :)

Dana said...

The tips are great! I love the last one the most :) I love your positive approach! Thanks you!

Mishelle said...

Good to know! I have a packing challenge since we are moving house so the first thing is to get the necessary supplies! Thanks foe the post! :)