Pack Like a Pro: 23 Moving Tips to Keep Your Sanity (And Stuff) Intact

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moving boxes stacked

Isn’t moving a hassle?

This can be one of the most stressful times in life, and I know because I’ve moved so many times myself! I’ve compiled my best packing and moving tips and strategies to save time and money when moving, especially with a family. I hope you’ll find these pointers helpful and hopefully your next move will run as smooth as possible!

host a yard sale before moving

1. Have a yard sale or garage sale and get rid of unused or unwanted items.

This is my favorite way to purge items I no longer need. At the end, I donate the things that don’t sell. The fewer items you have to move, the easier and less expensive the move will be! I have to keep telling myself this as I tend to hold onto my kids’ stuff. 🙂

moving day circled on a calendar

2. Make a plan and moving timeline.

This seems like common sense, but the farther ahead you start purging unwanted items and packing, the easier things will be on moving day. Instead of leaving all the packing for the last minute, set a goal of x amount of moving boxes packed per day before moving. Make checklists for all the small details like setting up new utilities and change of address forms.

Use this basic free printable checklist from Martha Stewart!

use a different colored tape to assign moving boxes to each room

3. Assign a different color duct tape to each room so boxes are easier to identify.

Throughout this last move, I really focused on being more organized – this colored duct tape is a great time saver during the unloading process as you can quickly identify where each box should be placed.

a clear box labeled 1st day essentials

4. Pack a clear “First Day Essentials” bin filled with the things you’ll need most as soon as you arrive at your new home.

As an example, I filled a clear bin with trash bags, box cutters, scissors, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, paper cups, disposable silverware, hand soap, and dish soap. I also fit my Keurig and K cups in here for coffee the first morning, as coffee is essential to me. I made sure to place this bin in my car so there was no chance of it getting lost among the boxes.

silverware packaged in trays

5. Use plastic wrap or paper and tape to wrap silverware trays.

This keeps all your flatware together and makes unpacking a breeze!

use ziploc bags for moving small items

6. Use large Ziploc bags to keep kitchen and bathroom drawer things together.

It’s so much easier to unpack when all the small drawer items are together – plus using clear bags allows you to see everything inside immediately.

spices stored in slow cooker for moving

7. Pack spices in a large slow cooker or pot to save space.

This tip can really be applied toward any large item like baskets, trash cans, etc. Fill up their empty space with smaller items.

wrap glasses in paper

8. Use cardboard dish pack partitions to pack breakables.

They are perfect to insert inside moving boxes and protect glass cups and dishes from breaking. Find these at your local U-Haul,, or even sometimes on Craigslist.

Plastic Wrap Toy Bins for Packing

9. Wrap organizing bins before packing.

If you already have items organized in bins like these toys, just use plastic wrap to secure them before packing. Then you don’t have to re-organize when you unpack.

tape lids shut of all household cleaners before moving
10. Tape off all items that can spill like shampoo, cleaners, cooking oils, etc.

There’s nothing worse than a random household item spilling or leaking. Taking the time to tape everything shut is so worth it! This strategy works well for packing pantry food items and bathroom toiletries to avoid spills inside moving boxes.*

*If using a professional moving company, make sure to check which liquids you can actually take on the truck.

grouped clothes on hangers then wrapped in garbage bags

11. Use a trash bag to quickly pack hanging clothing.

I used this method to pack my kids’ clothes, and they were a breeze to unpack.

stretch wrap used around brooms and other long-handled tools

12. Get to know stretch wrap – it’s, by far, one of my favorite packing tools!

Stretch Wrap is a giant plastic wrap that allows you to group things together like garden tools, or a stack of smaller boxes. Of course, you can also use it to wrap blankets over your furniture, too. We find it extremely helpful.

moving boxes broken down flat

13. Buy and resell boxes and packing material on Craigslist.

There are many places to buy new boxes like U-Haul, and Home Depot. Before you purchase new boxes, I encourage you to try collecting as many boxes as you can by asking friends to save boxes and asking stores if they have excess boxes that they need to dispose of. Then try looking on websites like Craigslist for free or inexpensive moving boxes and material. Don’t forget to break down and possibly resell boxes and packing materials after your move.

bottles separated in an open cardboard box

14. Check out liquor/wine stores for free boxes!

Oftentimes, these boxes are very sturdy and have separators already, which are great for packing glassware.

open refrigerator with condiments in the door

15. Defrost, clean, and dry your fridge/freezer at least a day before you move.

Placing towels on the floor around the bottom will help soak up any dripping water. To help minimize food waste, start using the odds and ends of your fridge in your meal planning a couple weeks before moving.

vacuum storage bags

16. Use vacuum storage bags to maximize your storage space.

You can use these Space Saver Storage Bags with your vacuum hose, and it will suck all the air out. They are super handy to have around for both moving and also for storing bulky or seasonal items such as bedding.

bedding on a made bed

17. Set up your bed first upon arrival to a new location.

You don’t want to be searching for sheets after moving all day! Also a shower curtain, shower curtain rings, and towels would be a priority as well. Trust me, this will be a lifesaver! 

keep a toolbox handy during moving

18. Make sure you keep a toolbox handy in your car/truck to assemble any furniture.

Or make it the last item to be packed and the first off the truck.

furniture hardware in a ziplock bag

19. Keep furniture hardware together.

Use plastic food storage bags to keep small pieces of hardware. Then make sure to tape the bag to the piece of furniture or item it corresponds to.

use an empty suitcase for moving heavy items

20. Use any extra rolling suitcases to pack heavy items such as books.

Boxes tend to tear when too heavy, and suitcases work well for bulky or heavy things.

photograph the back of electronics when moving

21. Take a picture of the back of your electronics.

This will make it easier to put it together when you arrive at your new location.

leave clothes in the dresser for moving

22. Keep clothes inside the dresser.

If you have to take out drawers to get it in the moving truck, do that, and then put the drawers back inside the dresser once on the truck. A good way to keep the doors closed and protected is to wrap the entire dresser in Stretch Moving & Packing Wrap.

keep receipts for moving expenses

23. Keep track of your moving expenses.

Some of your expenses may be tax deductible, which can is a huge benefit when completing taxes!

Lina ( loves cooking new recipes, thrift store shopping, and DIY home decor projects.

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Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 10 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 8

  1. Nicole S.

    I love your tips. I also tape remote controls to the the item they go with to avoid hunting them in a random box somewhere. Newspaper offices will usually give or sell you the ends of rolls of non printed newspaper for free or cheap which is great for packing.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow love those ideas! Super smart -and thanks for stopping by Nicole!

  2. Rose

    I found the best moving boxes are from tire/rim boxes. Talk with them ask for when best day to come pick them up.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      How neat! Thanks for the helpful comment, Rose! I’ll have to remember that!

  3. riss

    Love the colored duct tape idea! We may be moving soon so these tips will come in handy. Thank you!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Sure! Good luck with your move 👍

  4. pjane

    Only move what you must. Unless a third party is paying for moving costs. It is way better to sell off most everything and rebuy new stuff. I only made this moving mistake once. Spent 3500 shipping across US and then 5000 in storage for 5 years. Oh what I could have done with that money. I did not need that rug or runner or dish or surround sound or tv. Stuff is easy to get but expensive to move. By the time you move it you could have bought two. Better to put it on craigslist or amazon or ebay. Plan early. Keep the irreplaceable family memories. Sell the rest and buy it new. Enjoy the change.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks a TON for sharing your experience with us! That’s definitely a good option to keep in mind!

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