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Moving essentials to make packing (and unpacking) easier

Whether you're a college student moving out of a studio apartment or a family upgrading to a larger house, moving is always stressful. 

It may be tempting to just throw your things in some boxes and be done with it, but that’s a recipe for disaster when it’s time to unpack. With some planning and the right supplies, though, you can pack more efficiently, prevent broken items and save yourself time and frustration.

Getting ready for a big move? With these moving essentials, you’ll have an easier time packing and unpacking.

How to pack for a move

When it’s time to pack, having a strategy makes it much easier to keep your belongings organized. It also helps you pack more efficiently so you can be ready for moving day without too much stress. 

Take an inventory of everything you need to pack

You don’t want to bring items to your new home that you don’t need or want. Go through your home and list all the things you want to keep and move with you. Throw away or donate items that don’t make the cut before you move to lessen the amount you have to unpack at the new place. 

Pack by room

When you start packing, go room by room in your home to box things up. That saves you time when packing. It also means that all the items that belong in each room will be in corresponding boxes. When you get to your new home, you won’t have to go hunting through multiple boxes to find all of your kitchen utensils and dinnerware. This will allow you to unpack more quickly. 

Label everything

When you pack a box, label it clearly so you know exactly what you’ll find inside. You can be as specific as you’d like, but simply labeling the contents with the room where the items belong is usually sufficient. 

Put all your essentials in one box

The first night you get to your new place, you’ll probably be too tired to do much unpacking. Pack a box that contains all the things you’ll need for your first couple of days in the new place. For example, you might pack toilet paper, paper towels, plates, cups, utensils, toiletries, and clean towels. This way, you won’t have to go hunting for these basics on your first day in your new home. 

Moving essentials

Moving boxes

When you move, you need boxes for packing your belongings. You can always reuse boxes, but it’s often difficult to track down enough of them. Fortunately, you can buy moving boxes. They’re usually available in small, medium and large sizes. You can also purchase specialty wardrobe and dinnerware boxes to keep those items safe. 

Clear storage boxes

Besides traditional cardboard moving boxes, you may want to pack some of your belongings in clear plastic storage bins. These boxes are transparent, so you can see what’s inside without opening them. They’re also more durable and airtight than cardboard, so they offer greater protection for your items. You can use them for storage at your new home after your move, too. 

Cushioning material

The last thing you want is to discover that your fragile items have broken during the move when you start to unpack. Using packaging material rolls to wrap your belongings protects them if a box falls or gets jostled around in transit. 

Packing tape

Even if they’re wrapped in cushioning materials, your items can suffer damage in the moving truck. Sealing your boxes with high-quality packing tape ensures that your belongings stay inside. It also keeps dirt and other debris from getting inside. 

Label maker

You can label your moving boxes with a pen or permanent marker, but it’s often better to use a label maker. These are especially helpful if you have messy handwriting. You could use a computer to make clear, easy-to-read labels, but you can usually print out labels from a label maker more quickly than with a computer.

Furniture sliders

If you’ve hired professional movers, they’ll handle getting your furniture out of your current home and onto the moving truck. However, you may need to move some items around yourself while packing. Furniture sliders allow your furniture to glide effortlessly across your floor. That also prevents damage to your floors. 


You can pack and unpack your car for your move more quickly if you have a sturdy dolly to transport your boxes. Most dollies can hold a few boxes at a time. They allow you to unpack even a large U-haul truck more efficiently. A dolly is an especially important tool if you have a bad back or joints because it can help prevent injuries. 

Moving straps

During your move, you’ll likely have to transport at least a few heavy items with the help of friends and family. Moving straps help you get leverage with your body weight to lift heavy objects without injuring yourself. The straps usually fit two people and wrap around the shoulders to make moving items like a mattress or couch easier. 

Box cutter

If you’ve properly secured your moving boxes with tape, you’ll have a hard time unsealing them when unpacking if you don’t have a box cutter or utility knife. This sharp tool’s blade can easily slice through even the thickest packing tape, so you open and unpack your boxes as quickly as possible. 


How long does it take to pack for a move?

A. It depends on how large your current home is and how long you’ve lived there. In general, though, it’s a good idea to give yourself at least a day for each room you need to pack. 

How far in advance should I schedule my move? 

A. If you’re using a professional moving company, the timeline usually varies based on whether it’s a local or long-distance move. For local moves, you can typically arrange your move about three weeks ahead of your moving date. For long-distance moves, though, aim for at least four to five weeks to ensure availability for the dates you need. 

What you need to buy for moving

Cheap! Cheap! Moving Boxes Large Moving Boxes

These boxes can hold up to 65 pounds and fit large items like pillows, serving platters and computer equipment. They also have handles for easy carrying.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

IRIS USA Plastic Storage Bin Totes, Six-pack

These plastic storage boxes have grooves on the lid for secure stacking. They also have latches that secure the lids to keep all your items inside during a move. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Duck Bubble Wrap Roll

This bubble wrap has perforations every 12 inches to allow for easy tearing. The bubbles don’t pop easily, so the sheets can keep your items from breaking during your move. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Gorilla Heavy-Duty Packing Tape

This thick, secure packaging tape is made by a trusted brand and resists moisture and high temperatures to keep your boxes closed. It’s clear, too, so you can place it over labels for added security. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Brother P-Touch Label Maker

With its computer-style keyboard, this is one of the most user-friendly label makers you can find. It offers multiple fonts and can connect to Mac and Windows computers with a USB cord. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

SuperSliders Multi-surface 2-in-1 Sliders

These furniture sliders work on carpeting and hard flooring for fast, easy furniture moving. Each set contains eight sliders, so you can use them on multiple items at the same time. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Vergo Industrial Folding Dolly

This heavy-duty dolly folds for easy storage and portability. It weighs just 10 pounds but can support up to 275 pounds. It features a comfortable foam-padded handle for easy maneuvering.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Shoulder Dolly Two-person Lifting and Moving System

These moving straps are extra-wide, distributing weight more evenly across your body. The buckle design allows for easy adjustments, too. They can fit nearly any item that requires moving.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Kutir Retractable Box Cutter Utility Knife

With a solidly built handle and sharp blade, this box cutter can easily slice through packing tape and even cardboard. It also offers convenient onboard storage for extra blades in the handle. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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