21 Easy Packing Tips For Moving a Family

If you didn't already know, now you know: my family is moving. Our house has been on the market for quite some time and it finally sold. We haven't found a new home yet so at the moment we are moving in with my mom. And by at the moment I mean right now, while this post is being released, I am loading up a truck and moving in. 

We are in the middle of moving. Between organizing the move and determining what goes to the new place and what goes to storage, we have learned a lot. The following are my tips for an organized and efficient move. 

Because our whole house worth of stuff can't fit with my mom's whole house worth of stuff, we have also had to obtain a storage unit. Between organizing the move and determining what goes to grandma's and what goes to storage, we have learned a lot. The following are my tips for an organized and efficient move. 

1. Get Rid of Stuff

If you never use it or no one fits in it, or it has outlived it's usefulness, get rid of it. We are getting rid of our broken couch, our lean bookshelf and our broken lamp.  We are also getting rid of tons of clothing, toys, and other items that don't get used. Who wants to pack, move, store and unpack things that no one will use anyway? 

2. Try to Box Things Up by Category

So all the novels go in one box, all my school books in another.  All of Hailey's toys in one box, all of Tyler's games in another. This might mean having to search the entire house for all the things that fit into that category, but it's totally worth it when you know where everything is.

3. Label Boxes on at Least 3 Sides

This is definitely annoying and tedious, but super important. You want to label the top and two sides of every box. Depending on how the boxes are stored or stacked, you want to be able to check what is in the box without having to open them. Having 3 sides labeled will help you to do this.  

Easy Packing Tips for Moving

4. Have One Catchall Box

Inevitably, despite our best efforts, some box will get sealed and then you will find something that should have been in that box.  Make one catchall box and place such items into that box.  This will be the last box you seal.  Later, when you are unpacking, if you can't find something in the box for it's category, you know the only other place it can be is the catchall box. You definitely don't want to just stuff things in some other box, or you will never find it again!

5. Set Aside Stuff to Sell or Donate

Depending on the item, you may want to sell it or donate it. By selling you can make some extra cash, but it also takes more time and effort. Donating is a lot easier and some places will even pick up your donation for free. Do whichever works best for you, but make sure you do it, or you will just end up moving those items to the new place. 

6. Pick a Good Moving Day

There are definitely good and bad moving days. If you are hiring movers, you may find better pricing on weekdays. If you are recruiting teenage family members you have to work around school. Weekends may have more traffic or they may have less depending on where you are.  We picked a Friday after school is out since I'm off and my husband has two high school aged siblings who can help us move.

7. Map Out Your Move

We are moving to my mom's house which we have been to a bazillion times.  Even still, moving trucks can't take parkways which is how we usually travel between our homes.  Take some time to map out your travel route so you don't have to figure it out on the day of the move.  

8. Create a Moving To Do List

Have we met? If so, you know I love to do lists. When you are moving, these are absolutely necessary.  There are just too many things on your mind. Between packing, changing your address, doing repairs for the new buyers, preparing your new home for moving day, returning your cable box, ... The list goes on and on.  Whether you like old school with pen and paper, the notes app on your phone, or my favorite list app Wunderlist; you need to make a list.  

Easy Packing Tips for Moving

9. Put Tasks on the Calendar

Put the moving day related tasks on a large clean calendar.  This will help you stay organized and get everything done.  It will also prevent you from getting that feeling of feeling lost and wondering where to begin.  Just consult your calendar and you will know what you need to get done that day.  

10. Head to Your Local Grocery, Liquor, or Bulk Store for Boxes

Before you go out and spend money on boxes, check out these stores for free ones. If the boxes are going into storage, you may want to purchase blank boxes so you can clearly label them. But, if the boxes are for things that will immediately need to be unpacked and used, might as well use the free boxes. 

11. Pack Little By Little

Moving is kind of overwhelming. It's good to break up the tasks. Packing is one task that is easily broken down. You can start with the items that are rarely used or are out of season. Then move your way to the things that are used regularly, and then everyday. 

12. Use Smaller Boxes for Heavier Items

In prior moves, we have made the mistake of thinking, we have a lot of stuff, we need big boxes.  Then with the big boxes, we had to fill them of course and not waste the space.  This lead to super heavy, almost unliftable boxes.  Don't do that! Use smaller boxes for heavier things and bigger boxes for lighter things.  You will thank yourself later. 

13. Change Your Address at Least a Week Before You Move

This is an easily forgotten step but an important one.  You don't want to be waiting on that Amazon Prime package only to realize that it's being shipped to your old house. Change the address ahead of time so you have time for it to go into effect. 


14. Number Your Boxes

If you want to take your box labeling up a notch, create a number system.  As you pack up a box, take note of every single item inside of it. Write the list in a Google doc, or use a handy organizing app like Sortly, and then give the box a number.  

This genius strategy has two major benefits:

  1. You know exactly which box to go to to get the item you are looking for.
  2. You’ll know the total number of boxes you’re transporting so you can check to see if one goes missing or is stolen. 

15. Protect Fragile Items with Packing Paper, Bubble Wrap, or Blankets

You don't want your glassware and ceramics to break, so you need to take special care when packing it.  Once you know you are moving, you can save up any packing materials from packages you receive and use that to package your more fragile items.  you may need to pick up more packing materials at your local post office or storage center.  

16.Cover the tops of toiletry bottles with Plastic Wrap.

To prevent the possibility of leaking and spilling (and crying and cursing), take an extra two minutes as you pack to secure your toiletry bottles.  Unscrew the cap of your shampoo bottle, wrap a piece of plastic wrap (or a Ziploc bag) over the top, and screw the cap back on. this is super simple and can prevent a lot of possible heartache. 

17. Pack and Overnight Bag for Everyone

Chances are you are not going to get everything unpacked in one day. Pack a bag or two with everything you would need for an overnight stay. Also include things like toilet paper, paper towels, a shower curtain, hand soap, towels, sheets, and anything you might need immediately. 

18. Take pictures of your electronics

Before you unplug things, take pictures of the back of your electronics so you can see how everything is plugged in.  This will definitely help later when you are trying to hook up your blue ray, and DVR, and gaming systems, and the surround sound. 

19. Use the Luggage and Storage Bins You Have

Instead of trying to figure out how to pack your luggage and bins, use them. Think clothes and shoes for sturdy suitcases, and hand towels and pillowcases for lightweight, open-top bins and baskets.

Easy Packing Tips for Moving

21. Load a Box of Toys Last

If you are having you kids watched while you do the move, that's great. If not, and you have them with you, I recommend having a box of toys be one of the last things you load onto the truck.  This means this can be one of the first things you unload and you can give you kids some toys while you are unloading the truck. 

Bonus tips: Have Ziploc bags for screws and washers and other small items. Have cleaning supplies on hand. Make the beds first. Make copies of important documents. Treat your moving assistants to lunch and have snacks and beverages on hand. 

I hope that you have found these tips useful. It basically comes down to taking the time to plan and realizing that a little extra effort up front will lead to an easier move and unpacking later.

Do you have any moving tips that I did not include?

Leave them in the comments!



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