It’s true. I’ve moved a few times. It’s a chaotic blur, and then my cute address labels are outdated. Our great-aunts aren’t sure where to send Christmas letters. Sometimes, moving even results in a couple weeks of homelessness between dwellings. On the bright side, moving forces organization, a shedding of excess belongings, and awakens a sense of adventure. Along the way, I’ve collected some moving tricks. Here are my top twenty moving ideas.
1. The Truck. Read the fine print before you book your moving truck. Many of the top moving truck rental companies do not guarantee the truck you reserved will even be there on the day you want it. WHAT!? I know. One company does guarantee your truck will be there - Penske. Save money by filling out the online info form. A customer service rep will call and you can work out the best price. Sometimes, adjusting the pickup and drop off day by one day saves you money. They’ll help you figure that out. On top of that, you can get a AAA discount. If you have a long distance move, the discount savings on your truck rental will more than pay for your AAA membership. With our membership this year, we saved our mini-van’s engine by using our included free towing. We also locked our keys in the van at Pike’s Peak. AAA saved us again. Whew! Plan ahead. The longer you wait to book a truck, the more it could cost you. (This post is not sponsored by Penske or AAA.)
2. The Packing Supply Bin. As I move from room to room boxing up my stuff, I keep all of my packing tools in one bin. I toss in sharpies, large mailing labels, duct tape in various colors (solid colors are the best for labeling), packing tape, clear lawn trash bags, one and two gallon zip-top bags, a box cutter, a dust rag, and an all-purpose cleaner (I use vinegar and water in a spray bottle or Watkins.) I also toss in a screw driver for taking apart things and a little hammer for removing the little finishing nails I use to hang my art.
3. No-Need-to-Unpack Toy Storage. I sort my kids’ toys into two gallon zip-top bags, and then place the bags into clear storage totes. One bag for marble run, one bag for music toys, one bag for play food, puzzles with their pieces assembled, games with their game pieces, etc. You can do this weeks ahead, so all the toys have a home. If you find a random Lego or game piece as you move furniture, you know where it goes. Toys can stay in these totes for an extended time. If you are moving for one year or so (internships for example), the toys don’t need to be unpacked and repacked, and they are easy to find and rotate for your kids. We moved one year ago, and I never “unpacked” the toys. I just put the totes on a large shelf, and we use the toys one or two baggies at a time. It’s almost time to move again and the toys are still “packed.” (Well, except the train set covering my entire living room as I type, and big k’nex contraption next to my computer.)
4. Moving Binder. I shared my love of the moving and travel binder in this previous On the Road series post. I plan out the whole move in the binder using the free printable to-do list. I also keep all important documents in the moving binder. (Maps, lease info, hotel reservations, etc.)
5. Give Generously. If you have a hard time tossing or donating beloved items that you just can’t take along, gift a friend. I’ve done this with art, appliances, furniture, clothes, and plants that I love but really shouldn’t bring.
6. The Boxes. Don’t pay for boxes, you can find great boxes for free. Liquor stores often have quite a few, with little dividers that work nicely for glassware. Many grocery and department stores break down their boxes for recycling, so call ahead and see if they’ll set any aside. Boxes from copy paper reams are my favorite. Hospitals also have really great boxes if you know someone that works in health care janitorial. Also check craigslist. Some people post free moving boxes when they are done swapping homes.
7. Box Handles. I cut triangle handles on every box with a box cutter or craft knife. It makes it easier to grab and haul the boxes around. If a box is heavy, the handle can rip out, so enforce it with duct tape or just be careful.
8. Color Coded Boxes. I use the colored duct tape to color code the boxes by what room they should go into at the new home. Then, I use the large mailing labels to label which room and quickly list what items are in the box. I use the mailing labels because they are easy to see, read, and label over when I re-use the same box later. Some people even inventory boxes with spreadsheets, and that’s awesome. I just list the gist of the content right on the box because I’m a busy mama.
9. Give Thanks. Moving is a ton of work isn’t it? One of the biggest reasons that moving is a ton of work is because we are so overwhelmingly blessed with material things - a whole truck load of blessings.
10. Box as Much as Possible. It’s the best way to fit everything in the truck. It’s easy to toss bedding and clothes into trash bags, but those bags are hard to stack in the truck. The same goes for kids’ toys and bigger household items. You can pack a heavy record player with lighter items such as towels and baskets. Box box box.
11. Clear Containers. I use clear bags and totes for packing whenever I can. It’s easier to find my things when I can see right into the storage containers. Even inside of the moving boxes, I use clear lawn trash bags to keep some items dry.
12. Don’t Use Newspaper to protect anything, unless you want to wash all your belongings when you unpack. The ink is messy. I learned the hard way. Use clean packing paper, reuse plastic shopping bags, and use fabric items you need to pack anyway. Towels, blankets, curtains, and clothes make for decent protective layers. If you pack something glass, bag it in a trash bag first to catch the mess if it breaks in the box.
13. Prep a Last Box and a First Box. I set two large boxes aside and list what I’ll need last at the old home - usually cleaning supplies, paper plates, and something to keep the kids busy. My first box to open in the new house usually includes the essentials: coffee maker, toilet paper, soap, towels, sheets, etc.
14. Box for Hardware. All of the hardware that goes with can be packed into small zip-top baggies that are labeled and put into one hardware box. When I reassemble furniture, or need a coat hook or shelf bracket, it’s all in one box.
15. Pray Continually. Take a big breath! The move will end eventually.
16. Shrink Wrap! Some things can be bundled together into moveable packages without a box. You can shrink wrap books together, shelves together, curtain rods, etc. Small cabinets and dressers can be shrink wrapped closed if they shouldn’t fly open. Hopefully, the cabinet is filled with packed stuff to save space. Shrink wrap won’t get sticky goo all over your things like packing tape.
17. Soap! A white bar of soap works to fill tiny nail holes in white walls. Those little hotel soaps you found when you packed up the bathroom vanity will be perfect.
18. Don’t forget to forward the mail, or return the library books and cable box, or book the carpet cleaner. Call to change your address with utility companies and make sure they send your final bill to your new address. Waiting to pay can delay your deposit being refunded on some rental homes. I schedule those things out in the moving binder.
19. Entertainment for the road. On a long distance move, it’s nice to have some activities planned for the kids. We have portable DVD players, but a thousand miles of Curious George is too much Curious George. Since we love books, we often check out books on CD from the library. That doesn’t work when you are moving away, but you CAN use the digital library. Check out and download digital audio books onto your mobile device and connect it to the audio input in your car. Another option is to download children’s digital e-books for looking at along the way.
20. Remember Psalm 121:8
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
I know you have great moving ideas. Please jump in and share your tips!
You might also enjoy other posts in the On the Road series:
On the Road: Organized Bohemian
On the Road: Lessons from the Mountains