I know people who have moved a lot more than I have, but I have moved quite a bit in my life. Until I was almost 30, I had never lived anywhere longer than 4 years! An 11-year stretch in our PA house is the longest I’ve lived in one place and, even then, we packed and moved a lot of stuff to sell at antique markets or drive pieces to sell at various retail spaces in Maryland and Virginia. So, I wouldn’t consider myself a moving expert, but I am a very good mover and packer. I’ve definitely learned what not to do (like overloading large boxes) and what to do (like load books in small boxes that are easily carried or moved on a dolly.) I even learned new things on our cross-country move out to Minnesota. For anyone moving and packing themselves, I thought I would share a few tips on packing for a move.
tips on packing for a move | shrinkwrap is your friend
I am a big fan of shrinkwrap. Huge fan. Love it. It is fantastic for keeping things together and keeping things clean. I use the large rolls for furniture and the smaller rolls for things I’m packing in boxes. I use it for shipping things as well since it can keep breakables securely wrapped and loose things from jostling around a box. The one thing I learned from our last move is that wrapping furniture in plastic is great for short trips, but for longer trips, a moving blanket/blanket or cardboard should be added under the shrinkwrap. Just the slightest bit of rubbing over a cross-country trip can wear through the plastic and damage the furniture underneath if not protected.
tips on packing for a move | small boxes are your friend
After one debacle with a large, overloaded box that I had to unpack mid-move, I learned that smaller boxes are the way to go. If you need to get free boxes, wine & liquor stores are the best place to get sturdy small boxes. Jeff and I made several tips to the local beverage store for our early moves. For this move, we’ve been buying small and extra-small boxes from Home Depot, which run about $1/each. We have several larger boxes given it us by friends that we’re using for linens, pillows, clothes, and things that are bulky, but not heavy.
One tip on boxes is I always tape along the seam, but then put two pieces of tape perpendicular along the bottom of the box to add extra support. If one piece of tape fails, the other two will pick up the slack.
tips on packing for a move | a tape gun your friend
A tape gun does take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, it really helps speed up the process of assembling and taping boxes. You don’t have to try to rip the tape with your teeth or keep track of a pair of scissors.
tips on packing for a move | bubble wrap your friend
I move a lot of breakable items including an extensive ironstone collection. I have learned over the years, whether I’m packing for a move or packing something to ship, that bubble wrap + shrink wrap + packing peanuts + a good box = very few breakages.
I wrap a piece in bubble wrap, either nested with other pieces (like plates and bowls) or on their own (like pitchers) and then I’ll add shrinkwrap to make a little “bubble nest.” For most pieces, I put them in the box as is and they travel just fine. For special pieces, such as my ironstone cake stands, I also put them in packing peanuts to provide even more cushion. I would do the same for shipping since I’m certain all packages get dropped off a two-story building. You know…just for fun.
The “bubble nest” offers great protection, though, and keeps fragile items snug and safe. I don’t think we had any ironstone break in our last move.
Bubble wrap can get expensive. I buy a “haybale-sized” roll in bulk from U-line, but I’ve also been able to acquire or buy packing materials, including clean bubble wrap from Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
I am also a fan of newsprint. I know it’s more economical to use actual newspapers, but I hate how the ink rubs off on my hands, and then it can get items dirty when being packed or unpacked. I buy clean, blank newsprint packing paper to wrap things that need a little protection but not as much as bubble wrap.
I’ll have to share a little video on how I wrap things in newsprint. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but I learned the secrets when I worked at Mikasa right out of college!
you can be your friend
The last thing I would say is that packing for a move and unpacking after a move are both cumbersome processes, but you can do things to make it easier on yourself…
Purge before a move so that you’re not moving things you don’t use, love, or need.
If you’re storing things for an unknown period of time or long-term, weigh the cost of storing the item vs. selling it.
Pack like things together and label boxes well. We all throw random things in boxes towards the end of packing, but when you have the time, pack thoughtfully and carefully.
Any other tips from frequent movers and self-packers?