How to Pack Efficiently – The Ultimate Packing Checklist

If you’re looking to speed up the process of relocating, you’re probably wondering how to pack efficiently. This part of cross-country moving takes up a lot of time and energy, so finding an organized way to prepare all of your belongings can be a lifesaver. Use our checklist and don’t waste days on this task – make your move a smooth and painless experience.

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November 15, 2021 Posted in How-to

It will take you anywhere from two to fourteen days to handle everything properly depending on the size of your place. However, without good organization and handy tips, this task can take weeks – or even months. To avoid that moving mistake, make sure you follow our checklist to be ready before long-distance movers come.

The Key Is to Stay Organized

Once you start learning how to pack quickly for a move, you’ll see that the key answer is in figuring out how to organize your move properly. This includes all of the preparation steps like creating a timeline you can follow and putting a list of all the tasks in a binder. Since time is your biggest enemy when it comes to relocating, being one step ahead is something that can save you from unnecessary moving stress. Plan everything at least a month before the big day and put everything on paper. Having a moving to-do list will save you so much time and nerves.

A long-distance moving checklist on a paper
Create a list of tasks and share them with your family so that everyone can contribute

Get All the Necessary Supplies

If you don’t have any previous experience with relocations, do your research on the different types of packing materials and what the best-sized boxes are. Get enough packing paper, bubble and plastic wrap, tape, boxes, and padding materials once you estimate how much you’ll need. Keep in mind: it’s always better to have more than enough, just in case.

If your budget allows it, invest in high-quality supplies so that you don’t risk the safety of your belongings. Used materials can be risky, especially for valuable and expensive objects. If you wish to save money on these materials, keep in mind that your travel bags can be used instead of boxes. Other options are to look for free cartons in your local stores and use cotton clothes for wrapping delicate objects instead of buying rolls of quality paper.

Packing supplies ready for cross-country moving
Buy a full bag of supplies before the move

Start Packing the Areas Used for Storing

You should tackle one room at a time, and the ones you should start with are the spaces where you keep items you don’t use very often. That can be any type of storage or simply a shelf with seldom-used stuff. Make sure you learn how to pack books or some pots and pans you rarely use. Start at least a month before the relocation date and go through your pantry, basement, attic, and all other storage areas. Find all the objects that you barely ever touch, wrap them, and place them in a box. You won’t even notice they’re gone, and you’ll have much more time to tackle other stuff.

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Decluttering Before Packing Is a Must

Even if you’re not moving to a smaller home, you should still see what to get rid of. Check the items movers won’t move and what you don’t need anymore, and get rid of that. It’s one of the crucial ways to save on moving costs and also to earn some. If you know how to have a successful garage sale or if you sell your belongings online, you can get some extra cash to go towards long-distance moving services. On the other hand, if you’re not looking to get any profit from the stuff you don’t need, check where to donate toys, well-kept and good books, or any other unneeded stuff you have that’s still in good condition.

A person donating unwanted items before long-distance moving
Learn where you can leave your unwanted stuff and share it with those in need

How to Pack for a Move Efficiently? Making an Inventory List Is Crucial

Now that you’ve decided what goes to another state with you and what’s for donation, sale, or trash, it’s time to create an inventory list. Write down everything you plan on taking with you and sort it by rooms. You can also photograph your possessions and create a digital record of what you’re moving. Keep the moving essentials in a separate folder so that you can always know where they are and reach them.

This Will Help You With Unpacking as Well

Without an organized packing process, unpacking after the move becomes a nightmare as well. But if you keep a nice and organized inventory list, you’ll always know what’s where, what’s left to pack, and in which order you should unpack. While you’re writing all this stuff down, you can also make a note of where it’s going to be placed once you arrive at the new home. This will be of immense help for the cross-country movers who will unload your shipment.

A person making a list before getting long-distance moving services
Creating an inventory list is the best way to stay organized and efficient before and after the trip

Label All the Boxes

Moving labels should be placed on every packed box, suitcase, or luggage. It’s one of the best moving hacks you can use to simplify the process. Having clear labels on boxes and suitcases will keep you organized, and you’ll also let the movers know which cartons have to be handled with care.

Find a Method That Works Best for You and Always Know What’s in Your Bags

There are several methods you can use to label any box, bag, or suitcase. You can color code the rooms and keep track that way or write what’s inside the box on every label. Another option is to number the rooms and write that number on the label. The most important thing is to tape the label well so that it doesn’t come off during transportation.

Labeled boxes before cross-country moving
Make sure you always know what's in which bag or box

How to Pack Efficiently for a Move? Don’t Bring All the Clothes You Own

According to some research, Americans wear only 18% of the clothes they own. Don’t waste space in your boxes and suitcases and be very strict about what you plan to wear in the future. Check where you can donate clothes for the homeless or sell some of your clothing items online or at a garage sale. Also, if you’re relocating to a state with a warm climate, get rid of all winter clothing, and vice versa. Spending money on something you won’t wear anymore is not just illogical, but also expensive and time-consuming.

A person lying down covered in clothes before long-distance moving
It's not recommended to bring all of your clothes on the trip to another state

Leave One Suitcase for Shoes

Have you figured out how to pack shoes yet? If so, it’s time to place them in a suitcase. Clean every pair you plan to bring, separate the out-of-season ones, and wrap each shoe in a sheet of paper. Your sneakers and other durable footwear aren’t something to worry about since they can hardly get damaged, but pay attention to the leather footwear or more expensive pairs.

How to Pack Efficiently When It Comes to Expensive and Sensitive Shoes?

All delicate items, including your favorite heels, should be taken care of when transporting them long-distance. The best solution is to ship them in their original packages. If you don’t have those, get enough packing paper and protect each shoe individually. Put some paper inside the shoe as well to help it keep its shape, and if you’re moving heels, protect the heel with some soft material. You can also use cotton clothes for wrapping sensitive shoes. Check out the video below to see four ways to prepare your footwear for travel.

Check Which Furniture Can Be Disassembled

If you plan on moving furniture to another state, be sure to know how it can be transported. It’s not easy to travel with bulky sofas and couches, so taking them apart is the most logical solution. However, if you decide that it’s more efficient to leave these heavy objects behind and buy new ones upon arrival, check where to donate furniture in your current state or how to sell it. This also applies to the pieces that can’t be disassembled and that will take too much space in the moving truck. It could be more efficient to leave them out of the checklist than to waste money and effort to transport them.

A green couch ready for long-distance moving
Transporting bulky furniture will take a lot of your time and energy

Is It Time to Replace Old Appliances?

Do you have any unwanted appliances you want to get rid of? Donating them or disposing of them will make the whole process much more efficient. You won’t have to carry anything heavy, and your move will cost much less. Decide if it’s more effective to donate or sell your current appliances or to bring them with you. However, if you’ve just gotten yourself a new piece, be sure to check the most practical way to relocate it. Call a couple of friends and find the best way to move a refrigerator, freezer, washing machine, or dishwasher. Things like blenders, toasters, microwaves, and vacuum cleaners shouldn’t be an issue.

Long-distance movers carrying a refrigerator upstairs
You might need a hand when relocating heavy appliances

Pack Electronics in Their Original Packaging

Figuring out how to pack electronics is also a part of the efficient packaging of your household stuff. Just be sure to learn how to prepare electronics if you wish to have a stress-free move. In case you still have your original packages, it would be ideal to transport your electronics inside of them. Protective styrofoam inside will keep the devices in one piece and without any scratches. This applies to all of the smaller household electronics – from packaging a TV to your laptop and desktop computer.

A vintage TV
Try to find an original package for your electronics

A Reputable Long-Distance Moving Company Can Do All of This for You

You won’t have to deal with any of this if you decide to get long-distance moving services from a professional company. Aside from a packing service, they can provide you with auto transport and a month of a free storage unit where you can leave your belongings. Share your burden with expert long-distance movers near you and get residential moving or perhaps commercial moving services, as well as shipment tracking, all for one guaranteed price.

Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.



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