How to Pack When Moving Out of State


Packing to move out of town requires careful planning to minimize the amount of stuff moved and insure that it arrives undamaged. Only take those things you really want to keep and cushion everything that is breakable with bubble wrap, newspaper or linens. Protect your possessions while in transit by following the packing guidelines on all insurance policies.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Bubble wrap
  • Newspaper
  • Packing tape
  • Shrink wrap
  • Moving blankets
  • Magic Marker
  • Notebook
  • Pen

Purge and prepare to pack

Get rid of everything you don’t want to take with you. You only want to pack those things that are worth transporting long distances. Clean out storage areas, closets, the basement, the attic, etc. Sort items into trash, donations to charity, and things you definitely want to keep. Have a yard sale or sell items on to get rid of them. Use up or give away all liquids, flammable items and anything the movers won’t take and that you have no way of moving. For example, cleaning solutions, old paint, even olive oil. Charities such as the Salvation Army will pickup furniture and other items you don’t want for free. Eat up or give away perishable food items.

Gather packing materials. Collect used boxes from retail stores. Ask liquor stores for boxes with cardboard patricians that can be used to pack glasses. Buy bubble wrap and packing tape in bulk from wholesale clubs or home improvement stores. Specialty boxes such as clothing wardrobes can be purchased from moving truck rental companies, or home improvement stores. Collect newspapers from friends and neighbors to use as cushioning materials. Get permanent magic markers to label boxes. Use a spiral notebook to list all items that you pack

Read your insurance policy. Homeowners, renters and auto insurance policies have clauses that may cover items being transported. Understand whether you are insured and how much insurance you have. Make sure you follow all issues relating to insurance. Estimate the value of everything you intend to move. Keep the policy with you. Take photos of everything before you start packing.

Pack first and last things last

Separate things you will need when you first arrive and keep them with you. You may need these items before the movers deliver your furniture. Even if you are moving yourself, these are things that should be easy to find when you first arrive. For example: a change of clothing, toiletries, a broom, keys, etc. Separate items that are considered personal, confidential or non-replaceable. Make sure you keep these things with you do not allow movers to handle them. Include personal papers such as tax forms, check books and credit card statements. Irreplaceable photos and sentimental heirlooms should not be sent with movers.

Clean items before you pack them. Inspect everything and note its condition. This will help you identify whether damage discovered after the move was actually caused by the move itself. Disassemble large or awkward items such as bicycles. Put any small pieces such as screws in a zip lock bag tapped to a larger piece in the same box.

Pack boxes tightly, carefully moving items around so they fit. Nothing should move when you shake the box. Remember that your items will be stacked on top of each other in the moving truck, so all sides, tops and bottoms should be cushioned with waded up newspaper. Be creative when packing, combining things that fit into the box well together. For example: nestle pots & pans inside each other and leave clothes in dresser drawers. Use bedding and towels as cushions for fragile items. Tape boxes closed both along the seams and across the width of the box. Overlap tape to secure the seams. Rub the tape to make sure it adheres to the box. Write “Fragile” in big letters on all side of boxes with highly breakable items. Lift each box to make sure it is not too heavy. Movers sometimes charge extra for heavy boxes. For books and other items that may be naturally heavy, stick to smaller boxes.

Write a number on all sides of each box with a marker. In a spiral notebook, list the number and the contents of the box. List everything that is to be moved including each piece of furniture. Moving companies will also do this, sticking colored numbers on each box, but keep your own list. Your list will help you know which room each box should go in when you reach your new home. You can also use the list to check off and verify receipt of each item as it is unloaded. Pack the things you rarely use first. Pack one room at a time. Pack the things you may need near the end of your move last, such as the vacuum cleaner.

Wrap all furniture and mattresses in shrink wrap and moving blankets secured with stretchable belts. This prevents scratches, dents and dirt from harming your possessions. Most moving companies will do this for you, but if moving yourself, rental truck companies sell rolls of shrink wrap and rent blankets along with the truck.

If you hire movers, read all documentation and contracts to be sure to obey all of their packing requirements. Understand which items they will not move and make other arrangements for shipping them such as Fed Ex or driving them in your car. Estimate the value of your belongings to determine if you need to purchase extra insurance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider the weather when packing. During summer months, items such as vinyl records may melt in the back of a hot moving truck.

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