How To Pack For A Move

According to a pro mover.

Originally Published: 
This woman is packing for a move. Here are the products she bought to pack for her move.
Oscar Wong/Moment/Getty Images

Packing has become second nature to me, a military brat who’s moved close to 20 times throughout my short life. I’ve got it down to a minimalist science that requires the fewest boxes and causes the least amount of hassle. While I know you can purchase go-to storage bins and junk-purging trash bags below, I wanted to get an expert’s opinion on the best way to pack for a move. Even I learned a lot.

“The key to packing efficiently is to approach it strategically. This involves planning, deciding early on what you want to keep and what doesn’t need to travel with you, grouping items together and staging your packing process in a way that minimizes disruption to your household,” Voyo Popovic, the founder and CEO of Piece of Cake Moving & Storage, tells Bustle.

While Popovic and his team have made several packing and instructional videos available on their YouTube, he says the number one mistake people make is not starting early enough. He recommends people give themselves a whole month to pack for larger to mid-size homes and at least two weeks for anything smaller. He also recommends creating a master packing plan. “Plan out each room one by one, identifying how many boxes you will need, special packing material and any challenges. Next, declutter your household and identify what can be donated, given away, sold or removed ahead of time. There’s never been a better time to let things go.”

Popovic says it’s best to start packing items and rooms that are “least vital” like the dining rooms and offices before moving on to more frequented rooms like kitchens and bedrooms. “Decorative items that won’t impact the practical workings of the home like wall art are a great starting point,” he says. Remember to leave out essentials you need for moving day. Popvic recommends packing a bag with things like “important documents, medication, valuables, necessary toiletries, an extra change of clothes” so you don’t have to hunt for them through a mountain of boxes.

Below, we made packing for a move a little easier. Shop packing essentials like durable boxes, protective mattress bags, and so much more.

We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Best Boxes For Moving

Boxes are an essential part of any move, but finding the right boxes that won’t break half-way through your big day can be difficult. Plus, Popovic says it’s essential not to overfill boxes as it “increases the likelihood of accidents during transportation. So, what boxes are actually worth your time and money? Continue reading below.

With almost 7,000 five-star reviews, this 20-pack of medium moving boxes are touted by shoppers as the perfect sizes for packing. Not only do they have handles to make moving easier, they are also cheaper than most brand name boxes, coming in at just $2 a box.

Top review: “These boxes are just about the right size for the majority of packing, not too big so they are too heavy to lift, not too small that contain little. Overall, [I’m] pleased with them.”

“Wardrobe boxes are the way to go when packing up your closet,” Popovic says. These particular boxes from Amazon are a bit pricey, but worth the extra cash since they’re sturdier and more reliable than other brands. They even come with a metal bar for hanging clothing that won’t fall mid-move.

Top review: “I have moved quite a few times over the years and always hated moving my hanging clothes, it's just such a chore. I decided to splurge on some of these wardrobe boxes for my upcoming move and am so glad that I did! They're very sturdy, easy to assemble and hold quite a bit more than I thought they would. I know I will be even more grateful for them once we move in because all I'll need to do is grab the clothes out of the box and put them in the closet!”

A great reusable alternative to standard moving boxes are these durable storage bins. Not only do they have handles and clasps, so you don’t need to invest in tape, they can easily be used to store holiday decorations or garage necessities post-move. This particular brand has over 20,000 five-star ratings raving about their quality and long-lasting build.

Top review: “We just recently moved out of state. I packed [most] of the bedroom items, clothes, [and] linens in these bins. They packed nicely and it helped in seeing what I needed to unpack once we arrived.”

Moving day can get hectic and sometimes you just need to shove all your items into a trash bag and call it a day. If that’s the case, these Hefty bags will come in handy; with over 25,000 five-star ratings, these hard-to-rip bags are great for linens, clothes, and even mounds of trash that accumulate throughout your move.

Top review: “I've worked as a custodian and let me tell you, nothing worse than an extremely large/heavy trash bag [ripping] open from underneath. I usually buy the smaller scented ones but these are good, strong quality for moving, cleaning out, donations, etc.”

These are my personal favorite bags for moving. I own about 20 of these and they’ve served me well for my past three moves without tearing. Not only do they zip closed and have handles to make carrying easier, they also have a tag pocket so you can label each bag for moving day. They easily fold up for easy storage once you’re done with your move.

Top review: “These bags were a lifesaver moving my son into his college dorm. I was shocked by how much we could fit into them. We shoved curtain rods and curtains, as well as fencing gear into them, and never worried they would break. We used these awesome plastic label holders on the sides of the bag, that way we knew what was in each one, and the next time we use them, we just need to change out the index card.”

If you have a smaller space to pack and want to save yourself time and money, this apartment moving kit was made for you. It includes boxes, a mattress bag, cushion foam, and more to make packing so much easier.

Top review: “Quality, sturdy boxes and accessories made packing so easy. Perfect for a 1bdrm place. Everything I needed was included. Such quality. All my boxes arrived without break or damage. Highly recommend this product.”

Best Cushioning For Moving

A common mistake Popovic sees people make during their move is not selecting the correct packing materials. He recommends researching the correct packing techniques and using “a generous amount of packing paper” for fragile and delicate items.

“Kitchens can be the most challenging room due to the volume of fragile items,” he says. “Be generous with packing paper here to prevent items knocking against each other. Always pack heavier items at the bottom of the box, wrap each glass individually, and don’t stack fragile items. When packing dishes, place them vertically in the box, not on top of each other to minimize cracking during transportation.”

Make sure all your delicates arrive in one piece with bubble wrap cushioning designed to keep your items protected even through long, cross-country moves. Designed with airlock technology, this bubble wrap won’t pop and easily conforms to the item you’re protecting. Plus, with over 22,000 five-star ratings you know your most precious items won’t be damaged.

Top review: “I was happy with [this] product. Easy to rip off square sheets. You get a decent amount of bubble wrap. It kept all my delicate items safe for moving.”

Shoppers say this is a packing essential for breakables that can easily be reused to wrap ornaments or other fragile decorations post-move. This brand’s packing paper is unbleached and compostable.

Top review: “I have been using this kind of packing paper for years. Not only is it great for packing but excellent for things around the house. I use it for wrapping Christmas and Halloween decorations, miscellaneous dishes or glasses, sending packages, and a ton of other things. Very versatile. Buy it!”

Over 12,000 shoppers agree that these foam sheets are a must-have for any move. These sheets are pre-cut and non-abrasive. They were designed to help absorb shock and vibrations while protecting your fragiles from dush, water, and other chemicals during your move.

Top review: “These were really helpful in my move with dishes and fragile items. They were durable enough after the move that I am keeping them to either give to someone else or use again when needed.”

Whether you need to protect your furniture or hardwood floors, these packing blankets are a must for your big move. Not only are these heavy-duty and tear-resistant, they can easily be reused around the house for years to come.

Top review: “These tarps are very heavy duty with brown on one side and silver on the other. Also, the price for the multiple pack was amazing! We got them to use for large yard projects and so far they have held up very well. Very thick yet easy to move around.”

According to Popovic, towels can act as the perfect buffer for packing delicate items. You can use them for hard-to-wrap glass lids for pots and pans. This 4-pack is highly rated and would make excellent bath towels post-move.

Top review: “I have owned this towel for nearly a year now. Of any towel I have ever used, this is the best for softness, thickness, absorption, durability, color fastness and size…If there was a 10-star rating, this towel would get 10 stars from me.”

Popovic recommends using cling wrap to help keep stacked items in place during transit. This durable cling wrap is perfect for keeping dresser drawers closed or even securing plates in place during a move.

Top review: “We used this stretch wrap to protect our furniture during a move. The wrap was especially great for a piece of furniture in which the drawers come all the way out either side of the furniture. We covered the piece with moving blankets and then secured the wrap tightly over the blankets. The drawers stayed in place throughout the move, and the piece arrived with no damage at our destination.”

Must-Have Moving Essentials

Popovic says labeling your boxes is the key to a simple and seamless move. Not only will it direct movers where to place the box when they arrive at your new home, it will make unpacking so much easier. He notes that you should clearly mark “fragile” on items where applicable so that your movers can take extra care with those particular boxes.

Top review: “These labels are very easy to remove if you make a mistake. It’s easy to read and having it in different colors is helpful for the movers.”

Another great way to label your boxes is with a simple Sharpie. Buy a few so you don’t run out mid-move like I did, because guessing what’s inside your boxes is a huge time-suck.

Top review: “Bought this pack for moving. These are always getting misplaced so having a pack of 12 made finding a Sharpie easy while packing.”

This four-pack refill will make sure you never run out of tape on moving day again. Plus, it’s super reliable and won’t lose its stickiness mid-move.

Top review: “Seriously. Don’t bother with any other brand. This is the classic go-to for a reason. Don’t cut corners with off brands that you’re just going to end using twice as much to safeguard your valuables. If you care about your things, buy this tape. A single layer on a decent quality box is all you need. Even a crap box would do if you have this tape (the box might break but the tape sure won’t).”

A tool set is a must-have essential for any home, and this 39-piece set comes with everything you need to break down and build furniture and even hang art in your new home. Plus, it’s super compact, so it won’t take up too much space.

Top review: “I bought this when moving into my new apartment and I needed a hammer, screwdriver, etc. Overall, it's a great little tool kit and has most of what most people will need to perform basic household tasks.”

If you’re moving by yourself, a hand-held dolly is an essential. Not only is it great for moving large boxes and furniture by yourself, your back will thank you for letting this foldable hand truck do the hard work for you.

Top review: “Emptying my storage room in preparation for a move to another location . This product was the best and easy and reliable. Easy to load in your car, and does not require much space , and so easy to fold.”

Whether you need to dispose of your mattress during your move or want to keep it safe while in transit, this mattress cover has you covered. Plus, with over 4,500 five-star ratings you know it’s worth the investment.

Top review: “Great fit for a queen mattress, plenty heavy enough plastic to get the move done. Way cheaper than buying from U-Haul. Would recommend and buy again.”

This sofa cover is designed to keep your comfy couch safe from debris and potential rips throughout your move. Note: You’ll need two of these to move sectionals.

Top review: “I needed something that protected the bulk of my couch even if it wasn't a perfect fit. This wrap definitely protected my couch from as much awkward pivoting during moving. It wasn't perfect but I know the process was definitely easier with it and it held up to a lot of abuse.”

A utility knife is a must-have for cutting open all your boxes when you finally arrive at your new home. This particular knife folds up for easy storage and comes in eleven gorgeous colors.

Top review: “The color is awesome, it feels solid and sturdy, the grip feels nice, and the pocket clip is heavy duty and fantastic.”

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