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12 Packing & Moving Tips: Pack Your Home Like a Pro

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12 Packing & Moving Tips Hip2Save

Are you planning for an upcoming move across town or across the country? If so, check out these 12 tips to get you and your family packing and moving like a pro! My family has moved five times in the last 8 years, and so today I’m sharing some of my favorite tips with you.

Yard Sale Hip2Save

TIP #1: Have a yard sale or garage sale and get rid of unused or unwanted items. This is my favorite way to purge items that I no longer need. And at the end, I donate the things that don’t sell. The less items you have to move, the easier and less expensive the move will be! I have to keep telling myself this as I tend to hold onto my kids’ stuff. 🙂

Use a different color duct tape to identify each room's boxes

Tip #2: Assign a different color duct tape to each room so the boxes are easier to identify.  Throughout this last move, I really focused on being more organized – the colored duct tape can be a great timesaver during the unloading process as you can quickly identify into which room each box should be placed.

1st Day Essentials Bin for Moving Hip2Save

Tip #3: Pack a clear “First Day Essentials” bin filled with the things you’ll need most as soon as you arrive at your new home. As an example, I filled this bin with trash bags, box cutters, scissors, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, paper cups, disposable silverware, hand soap and dish soap. I also fit my Keurig and K cups in here for coffee the first morning (coffee is an essential for me 🙂 ). I made sure to place this bin in in my car so there was no chance of it getting lost amongst the boxes.

Wrap your silverware trays in paper and tape or plastic wrap

Tip #4: Use plastic wrap or paper and tape to wrap silverware trays. This keeps all your flatware together and makes unpacking a breeze!

Put smaller kitchen and bathroom drawers items in large Ziploc Bags

Tip #5: Use large Ziploc bags to keep kitchen and bathroom drawer things together. It’s so much easier to unpack when all the small drawer items are together!

Use larger items to store smaller items inside

Tip #6: Pack spices in a large slow cooker or pot to save space. This tip can really be applied towards any large item like baskets, trash cans, etc. Fill up their empty space with smaller items.

Dish pack partitions for glasses Hip2Save

Tip #7: Use cardboard dish pack partitions to pack breakables.  They are perfect to insert inside moving boxes and protect glass cups and dishes from breaking. Find these at your local U-Haul, Staples.com. or even sometimes on Craigslist.

Plastic Wrap Toy Bins for Packing Hip2Save

Tip #8: If you already have items organized in bins like these toys, just use plastic wrap to secure them before packing. Then you don’t have to reorganize when you unpack.

Tape all the lids to cleaners and pantry items shut to avoid spills Hip2Save
Tip #9: Tape off all items that can spill like shampoo, cleaners, cooking oils, etc.

Use a garbage bag for hanging clothes Hip2Save
Tip #10: Use a trash bag to quickly pack hanging clothing. I used this method to pack my kid’s clothes and they were a breeze to unpack.

Stretch Wrap Hip2Save

Tip #11: Get to know stretch wrap – it is by far one of my favorite packing tools! Stretch Wrap is a giant plastic wrap that allows you to group things together like garden tools, or a stack of smaller boxes. Of course, you can also use it to wrap blankets over your furniture.

Buy and sell your moving boxes on Craigslist
Tip #12: Buy and re-sell boxes and packing material on Craigslist.
There are many places to buy new boxes like U-Haul, and Home Depot. Before you purchase new boxes, I encourage you to try collecting as many boxes as you can by asking friends to save boxes and asking stores if they have excess boxes that they need to dispose of. Then try looking on websites like Craigslist for free or inexpensive moving boxes and material. Don’t forget to break down and resell boxes and packing materials after your move.

Do you have any favorite moving tips or ideas that have been helpful to you? Share with us in the comments!

Written by Lina for Hip2Save. Lina is a proud mom of 2 small kids who loves photography, all holidays, cooking, thrift store makeovers, bargain shopping, and DIY makeovers. Her goal is to create a beautiful life and stylish home on a dime!

Join The Discussion

Comments 300

  1. couponingmama

    Thank you so much for the tips!! These really are time savers. Were moving soon and the thought of packing (with a 16 month old) gives me anxiety!

    • couponingmama

      You can also get free boxes from your grocery store, just ask!

  2. Maria

    Where was this seven months ago?!? LOL just kidding, love these posts, Lina!!

  3. harlow

    i moved 12 x in 23 years,woo its rough, just pack it up and try to not lose anything put important things in ur own car like ur computer, watch out for mirrors in the moving van.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Wow that’s a lot of moving! Yes I agree on the valuables! 🙂

  4. Fabiola

    Thank you so much for this post. I am moving in about a month and these tips will definitely make it easier!

  5. Liddy

    We just moved and I wish I had seen this! Your tips look way better then the way the movers packed for us! I should of had a yard sale I’m unpacking and didn’t realize how much I was hoarding my 10 month olds old baby clothes now I’m wishing I would of had a yard sale lol good tips!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yep I unloaded ALL the baby and toddler stuff this time! It feels really good. I’m still finding stuff to purge as I unpack though! 🙂

  6. rwild1

    We went to the liquor dept of the grocery store and asked for wine and liquor boxes. They already have the dividers in them. Final cost: zero!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Oh great tip! Love those boxes 🙂

    • peepslob

      Oh, wow, I didn’t think of this! Thanks!

  7. EG

    Grocery stores have no problem giving you their cardboard boxes for free.

  8. Michelle

    Excellent tips, Lina!!! I don’t think we are moving anytime soon, but I will pin this for later, just in case!!

  9. leslie

    Love the different colored tape for each room. Here I sit packing right now to move. I will definitely use some of your tips. Thank you!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      You’re welcome and good luck for a smooth move. 🙂

      • Jennifer B.

        As a military family, we moved a lot, but thankfully, didn’t have to pay for the moves ourselves. The packers would mark the boxes by room, but I have to say this colored tape would have been SO much easier. It just pops! Great for the receiving end to know where to send the box!

  10. Loren

    I am so happy you did this post. Moving next month, this is gonna help a lot.

  11. mckeeversmom

    If you take a picture of the items you’re going to pack in each box, then code the box with a number that corresponds to the picture, you’ll know which box contains certain items if you need them right away after the move.

    • visitor3

      Agreed, just snap a picture on the iphone. Great for documents also that you may need to find fast during the transition.

  12. jennifer

    Wow, great tips!

  13. Kathy

    Our local discount store offers large heavy duty reusable shopping bags 2/.99. These are nice to use to pack as well – lots of room and easy to carry handles!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Yes love those and also the huge blue Ikea shopping bags 🙂

  14. Emily

    Egg boxes from the grocery store are, by far, my favorite moving box! There’s a divider in the middle and they’re small enough that you can’t pack them too heavy. They have strong handles. The divider can be cut to help you pack awkward objects like really tall vases, or the small banjo we had to move.

    We also had a storage unit for awhile and the woman there told me to put a dryer sheet in each of my boxes because it tends to keep bugs away. That’s good to know for boxes stored in your basement, attic or garage as well as storage units!

    I also agree about the beer boxes for glasses. They already have dividers in them and they work really well. They are also used to carrying heavy items, so the boxes are solid with good handles.

    When you move, don’t take things out of your dresser drawers either. Just move the drawers with full clothes. The the drawers out, put the dresser in the moving truck, put the drawers back. When you get there, take out the drawers, move the dresser, put the drawers back. Dresser unpacked!

    I also taped the DVD’s to their stand and moved the whole thing as is! I should have used the moving wrap you mention. We used it to protect our headboard but didn’t get it until after I had already taped up the other items.

    And finally, be SO careful if you are pulling a moving trailer! We were doing that and something shifted in the truck when we were on a freeway on-ramp. The whole thing fish-tailed and it took a small heart attack and some careful use of two lanes of traffic to get it under control. Luckily the car behind us was paying attention, got into the other lane and helped block speeders from passing us. We weren’t speeding, but a mattress or something shifted slightly and we nearly lost control in a major way. So please, just be very careful!!

  15. J

    I LOVE you Lina!!!!!! I’m moving next year and these tips will come in super handy to make the move easier.

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Ha thanks! Good luck!

  16. Beverly

    Does anybody know where you buy those large rolls of stretch wrap?

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Home Depot, Walmart

    • Emily

      We got ours at the Uhaul store. The mattress bags that they sell are also pretty convenient.

    • Steph

      Costco

    • cruelas

      I remember seeing some at Big Lots once, but you can’t rely on their inventory, of course.

    • visitor3

      And what is a fair/good price for the large stretch wrap?

  17. Tracy

    These are some great tips. I’ve used #10 to pack hanging clothing.

  18. Nicole

    I saw the idea to use styrofoam plates between your real plates. You can get them at the dollar store, then use them at picnics/bbqs after you move. Genius!

    • Emily

      That is smart!!

    • Heather

      You rock! Thanks so much for sharing this idea. Moving next week & using it.

  19. Pat

    Being raised in the military as a dependant (child and wife) you learn how to move and how to plan for every kind of emergency. My mother was really good at it.

  20. LadyO

    Ahhh, thankfully, not moving anytime soon. However, I have moved 11x in 15 years (2x with a baby under 18 months) and have used many of these ideas with success.
    Some other suggestion for the organization of boxes: 1)don’t co-mingle contents of boxes. If it is kitchen stuff-ONLY kitchen stuff goes in that box! Then, number each box as it is filled and sealed. Do not worry about packing up an entire room, before moving to the next. Then, using a small notebook, list box # and (generic) contents (kitchen dishes, Jack’s toys).
    2) Especially, if you a moving with children: pack a suitcase, maybe 2, and label them for each family member-as if you were leaving for vacation. In it 5+ days worth of: clothing, medication, toiletry bags, special toys, snacks!, if moving to a different climate: clothing to suit that climate, nightlight, flashlight, sheets for each person’s bed, blanket, pillow, plastic cups, towels, books, tissues!!, dvd’s/movies for kiddos, notepad and pen.
    3) Your suitcases should go with you as a family, if at all possible. If not, they are the last items to be placed on the truck, so they are the 1st items off.

  21. JA

    A good addition to your first day box is a shower curtain! We moved from glass door showers to ones that needed a curtain liner so of course we didn’t have one that night when we needed it. That was a mess. Just a thought!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Good one! And someone on FB mentioned basic tools, also a good one that we had also packed, but forgot to mention in my post. 🙂

    • siobhantwohigSiobhan

      I had the shower curtain, couldn’t find the shower curtain rings!

      • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

        Oh ha good one! I forgot bath towels and couldn’t find any! That was a fail 🙂

  22. deborah

    i think those were the best ideas ever thank you

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Thanks Deborah!

  23. Abs

    I’ve moved 8 times in 10 years due to hubby’s work. If staying in hotels, Exteded Stay is where we begin our adventure in a new town, that way you can cook your own meals, check out hotels.com and save with your discover card for cash back. Stage your house well for fast sale. Yard sale is sooo important, Goodwill nowadays has too many donors and didn’t accept a lot of my stuff. Craigslist all big items. Oh and remain calm from all the stress! Ha!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Ha I know! It is very stressful. We’ve been moving for my husbands job too. I’m still swimming in boxes 🙂

  24. Tammy

    This is great! It almost makes me want to move…hahahaha! Thanks Lina!

  25. ColleenMarie

    This helps so much since we’ll be moving out in about two to three weeks! Thanks!

  26. carrie8

    Start packing as soon as you know you are moving! It is so much less stressful to pack over a month or two, if you have that option, than trying to do it all before the “big day.”

  27. Jennifer J>

    I use socks to protect valuables when packing. They are perfect for glasses, stemware, and other small breakables. I’ve also used scarves, hats, gloves, and other small clothing items to cushion fragile items. Small stuffed toys (the ones that your kids cannot part with) also help to cushion items—- and you don’t have to buy these.

  28. Heather

    I’m moving from Greenville, NC to Carolina Beach, NC next Tuesday. This post could not have come at a better time! Definitely using the different colored duct tape idea. It’ll especially help the movers because there are 4 stories (poor guys) :/ Where did you get the different colors? THANK YOU!

    • LadyO

      Go to Michael’s or Joann’s and don’t forget your 40%, 50% off coupons!

    • nel

      We also did the colored tape on furniture (discreetly—like the back of headboards, etc.) So great for when you have help to unload but are overwhelmed with trying to tell people where to go with things. You could also use paint color samples or construction paper with packing tape. I started with that b/c I didn’t have enough colors of tape but that fancy tape was worth every penny!

    • Susan

      Go, Pirates. Spent some wonderful years in Greenville, NC…

  29. Anne

    The $10 we spend on a huge box of plain white newsprint at UHaul was worth every cent. Of course, as a couponer I had access to tons of newspaper but it wasn’t worth washing the ink off of everything. This way, we emptied everything straight from the kitchen boxes into the cupboards without having to wash them!

    • Anne

      If you have a baby or toddler, tell your husband to bring the crib ASAP (mine didn’t and it was a disaster) :). We all barely survived the first night and it was reassembled the next day. 🙂

  30. mel

    Oh, man, those tips are GENIUS! The only thing we did was what another poster mentioned above, was just removing the dresser drawers full. Loaded the dresser, then put the drawers back in. For clothes, I just grabbed a handful already hung, and laid them on the back seat of the car. We had a garage sale the month after we moved in. It was a great way to meet the neighbors!

  31. nancyr

    These are all great tips and wish I had thought of a few of them during my years of moving. However, we are making one more move, although quite a bit different than our others. We bought my grandmother’s property, tore her home down and the lot is right next to ours. My uncle lives on the opposite side. We’re building a home on the lot and when it’s time to move into our new home, we are literally carrying everything over and placing it where we want it so this time (and hopefully our last time) will be quite easy. No need to pack and unpack for the most part especially since we’re not selling our current home/property. We can take our time and moving should be a breeze since it’ll be only feet from “old” door to “new” door, literally.

  32. rwild1

    I did the sock thing too. It not only padded but didn’t scratch the crystal. I also used our linens to pad in between more fragile items. You have to pack them anyway. just don’t forget what boxes they are in so you can make your beds.
    Our first day box included the coffee maker, the mugs, the filters, the coffee and creamer.

  33. peepslob

    Thank you! I am moving in July!

  34. emily

    Thank you!! I am moving soon and this is a HUGE HELP!

  35. Tami

    McDonalds always has free boxes of all sizes. The fry boxes are extremely sturdy!

    • alexisharrow

      I work there and we go through around 50 boxes a day (and my store is quite small, I would recommend the fry boxes and also the happy meal toy boxes because most of them have cardboard separators in them. I’m about to move house and I am coming home everyday with at least two boxes under my arm! The chicken nugget boxes are the MOST sturdiest in regards to thick cardboard however they will not let you have boxes that have had raw meat in them.

  36. Menesesitas

    Moving soon witha 2month old and this sure help out a lot !!! Thank youuuu soooooo much .

  37. Beth

    I did the tape the boxes idea when we moved (we used different colored electrical tape because all this fancy duct tape wasn’t available. One thing I LOVED was that I put the correct electrical tape color on the doorway of the room where those boxes should go (i.e., red tape on the master bedroom when we got there so all the red taped boxes for master bedroom would get put there). The movers (our friends and family) loved being able to deposit the box in the correct room and I loved not having to move it when unpacking!

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      Awesome!

  38. Yolande

    Great tips! We are moving 4 houses down the road mid July. Moving from a rental home into our soon to be “own” home. We are going to try and move as much little things as possible and then have the movers do the big stuff. The movers we booked charges per hour.

  39. Mona

    Freecycle is also a great way to find or get rid of boxes after a move

  40. san

    Hi Lina,
    Such a great post. I would like to know some tips on reducing my electricity bill. We live in a 2 BHK Apt and get almost $250 to $300 electricity bill during peak summer and winter months. Greatly appreciate any tips on this.

    • Charlotte

      That is insane. We live in a 3 BR house and have $70/mo right now in electricity. It’s gone up since we have more electronics. We have an agreement with our electric company where they charge us a set monthly sum, and we get refunded or pay a bit more at the end of the year. They then adjust the monthly payment for the following year. It helps spread out the costs for us. Also, we get a $10 credit/month as we are allowing them to turn off our AC during peak hours. I think the max they do is 2 hours and they text me before they do it. They’ve only done it once in 4 years and the house did not heat up too much in that time.

    • E

      Ditch the dryer! Hang all of your laundry! Then, if you need to “decrispify and dewrinkle” it stick it in the dryer for 5 min. Same with your dishwasher, turn off the auto dry and just open it when it’s done and let them air dry, or hand dry them. Turn your water heater to a cooler setting, it’s summer anyway. Turn your AC up and wear less clothes.

  41. Rae

    Just sell it all and buy new stuff every move! How I wish i could have done that. So far I’ve only had to move across country twice and had two moves that were less than 300mi if I don’t count the move out of my parents house… Its never a joy. I tired to be organized this last time but that failed. I needed to be able to pack, clean and watch my kids at the same time. Now since the move i still have boxes full and sitting around because I just don’t want to unpack. Hopefully this will be our home for a long while.

  42. Susan Smith

    Lina, these are great! My favorites are #2 colored duck tape and #9 packing clothes with trash bags. In fact, I use #9 to pack my suitcase for trips! I hang all of my clothes on a chin-up bar that we installed across the very top of our master bathroom doorway, and then I pull a trash bags around all of those items, fold in half, and lay the bundle right in my suitcase. Unpacking is a breeze, I know I have enough hangers because I use my own, and I have a trash bag available for dirty clothes on the road!

  43. Charlotte

    Advice on the grocery store card board box: Don’t do it. I’ve worked for a large, international chain, and occasionally we’d have roaches in the back room. All the stores have this issue. You don’t want those “friends” to travel with you home. Heck, I remember moving from our roach infested apartment to a new one, roach free, and I was paranoid about the roaches taking up residence in the moving boxes that I did not pack until the morning of the move. Thankfully the roaches stayed in the old apartment.

  44. amanda

    My husband and I have moved 7 times in 8 years and to 4 different states (3 of those moves with kids)…I will never pack ourselves again lol. I’ve done it enough for a lifetime! Great advise though for those moving themselves

  45. Erika

    this is one of the BEST tips i came across when moving… for your dishes, place a paper plate in between them to keep them from scratching or breaking. You can buy these anywhere for super cheap.

    • visitor3

      Styrofoam might be cushier?

  46. sarah

    I use to work in a liquor store. We would give away boxes! They where really good for moving! They have the partitions for wine glasses or anything the size of a Normal liquor bottle.

  47. patricia

    My son recently moved and he used the stretch wrap to wrap his furniture in. It looked like new when unpacked; not a scratch. He also used leftover styrofoam plates and bowls to put between his dishes to cushion them instead of newspaper; great idea.

    • Tara

      Thanks for this tip! That is my only worry…Our nice furniture getting damaged…definitely will do this!

    • Kassandra

      Hi I was wonderi g if your son left the stuff in his drawers when he shrink wrapped them?

  48. Pixie

    I too have made many moves. One of the best tips I was given was about furniture, such as chests, dressers, etc. Don’t unpack those drawers–leave them loaded and secure with tape. Furniture goes in, already set-up!

  49. Lydia

    This is great! We’re getting ready to move across country with three children ages three and under, and this is the best article I have read yet. Thank you so much!

  50. Jessica

    This post is crazy to see for me . I’m in the process of packing our house for a move from Florida ( where I’ve lived my whole life ) to Georgia and I’m having a hard time dealing with it . Me and my husband have lived in our home for 13 years and had our 5 kids here and now to pack up and leave is really hard for me . I’m really emotional but trying to stay strong for the kids . I guess 1st time moving is really scary . Well thanks for the tips , couldn’t have come at a better time .

    • Lina (Hip's Modern Martha)

      I know it is hard emotionally and physically! Good luck and hang in there. It can be fun to explore a new place with new adventures and memories 🙂

    • jen

      i too left fl to move to ga with 5 kids. stay in florida ! georgia is sooo boring. there is nothing for the kids to do . in a 10 mile town we live in there is 50 churches and publix is 13 mile one way…..we have lived her 8 years and i think about fl ,every day…

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