Don’t Let Packing Intimidate You!

At last you’ve sorted through your possessions, throwing away, giving away, and organizing what’s left. Now the daunting task of packing what you are moving to your new home is at hand. Professional movers often offer packing services, as does Next Step Baltimore, but if you want to do it yourself, here are 10 tips that we’ve learned through experience and research that will help you tackle the packing.

#1 Give yourself plenty of time.
If you’re doing your own packing, make sure you give yourself at least six weeks before your move date and plan carefully. Packing at the last minute tends to become a disorganized affair with items poorly packed into random boxes.

#2 Collect supplies.
Try to estimate what you’ll need and make sure you have enough on hand. Start collecting boxes from your place of work, from friends or from stores. Look on Craig’s List and Freecycle for free moving boxes, or purchase packing kits online or from moving companies.

#3 Create a proper work surface.
To eliminate back problems and overstraining your joints, the work surface should be just below waist height, which could include a dining room table, a portable work bench, a bedroom dresser or bed. The area needs to accommodate all your packing supplies, including paper and bubblewrap. A bed or kitchen table are both ideal heights and require very little bending or shifting.

#4 Pack non-essentials first. 
Start packing items you can do without. If you’re moving in the summer, pack all your winter clothes, sports equipment and heavy blankets.

#5 Label boxes. 
While you’re packing boxes, number them and label the top and sides of boxes with contents, location of contents in your house and if there are any special instructions, such as “fragile” or “open first”. This will assist the movers in putting the boxes in the correct room and will warn them of any fragile items. 

#6 Keep an inventory list. 
Keep a running inventory list of the numbered boxes to check off when the movers are unloading. This way, if a box goes missing, you can easily identify which number it is and what is contained within it. Insurance companies love this kind of detail.

#7 Pack fragile Items carefully.
Clothes, towels, linens, pillows can be used to keep fragile items safe. Just make sure you mark this on the box for when the box is unpacked. If the person who is unpacking the box is unaware that a crystal vase is wrapped inside a fleece blanket, they could easily unfurl the blanket sending the vase crashing to the floor. 

Make sure you properly wrap all fragile items in several layers of bubble wrap and pack them on their edge (plates, mirrors, picture frames, etc). This helps prevent breakage on the move. If the moving truck hits and unexpected pothole or bump, plates stacked on their sides are much less likely to break than those stacked one on top of the other.

#8 Keep box weight at a minimum.
To prevent injury to yourself, your family, friends or the movers, make sure your boxes are not too heavy to manage. Most boxes should weigh less than 50 pounds with an ideal weight being 40 pounds or less. If you have any overweight boxes, make sure you mark them clearly so that nobody gets injured.

#9 Seal the boxes.
Make sure all boxes can close properly and be sealed so the tops are flat. If you over-pack a box, you risk damage to the contents.

#10 Pack an “Essentials” box.
Before moving, everyone should prepare a box full of items you’ll need for your last few nights before you move and/or the first few nights in your new home. Some good things to include are:
– Toilet Paper
– Dish soap
– Dishtowel and dishcloth
– All-purpose cleaner (unopened)
– Instant coffee
– Toaster or small toaster oven
– An easy food item for one dinner and lunch
– Unopened small jar of jam/peanut butter
– Snacks
– Beverages
– Pet food and dishes
– Mug, plate, fork, knife, spoon for each member of the family
– All-purpose cutting knife
– Scissors or craft knife (to open the rest of your boxes)
– Small emergency kit
– Flashlight/candles/matches
– Shower curtain (nothing worse than forgetting this one!)
– Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, floss, and paste
– A change of clothing and towel for each member of the family.
– Garbage bags
– Portable tool kit

Presumably, there’s a grocery or convenience store nearby, but just in case, include all essentials that you’ll need for at least 24 hours.

After you’ve prepared your Essentials Box, take it with you in the car or in the cab of the moving van if you’re moving yourself. Again, this will be the last box packed, and the first one you open!