Preparing for a cross country move can be a stressful event, and one of the biggest sources of stress is the need to transport your property to your new home.
Hiring a Moving company is the best way to move your property across the country. In most cases, though, you’ll still need to pack your own things for the move.
Not sure where to begin? This is the ultimate guide to preparing your property for a cross-country move.
If you begin following this guide several weeks in advance of the move, you’ll eliminate a major source of stress and ensure that your possessions travel to your new home safely.
Eliminate Unnecessary Items to Make Packing Easier
You probably have more things than you actually need. Moving is also a large expense, so a bit of extra incidental cash would probably be very helpful.
How do you solve both of those problems simultaneously? Hold a moving sale before you begin Packing for the move. Go through all of your things and identify items that you’re not likely to use again.
Sell what you can and donate the rest. If some items are too worn to sell or donate, discard them. When you move into your new home, you’ll enjoy significantly reduced clutter.
Buy Packing Supplies Before You Begin
Begin gathering packing supplies well in advance of your move. These are some of the supplies that you’ll definitely need.
If packing up your house seems like too big of a job, consider paying someone to pack your house or pick movers that professionally pack your items.
Assorted Moving Boxes
You’ll need strong Boxes of varying sizes. If you’re on a tight budget, you can ask for used boxes at local supermarkets or liquor stores.
They’ll have plenty of boxes designed to hold heavy things, and they’ll gladly give away what they would otherwise recycle because it’ll save them the effort of breaking the boxes down.
Don’t take torn or damaged boxes, though; you wouldn’t want a box to break on moving day.
Several Rolls of Packing Tape
Packing tape consists of thick plastic and very strong adhesive.
It’ll help your boxes keep their structural integrity, and it won’t come loose during transport.
Bubble wrap, brown paper and packing peanuts are all excellent protective packing materials that can keep your things cushioned during transport.
It’s a good idea to buy different types of packing material because no one material is best for protecting all types of household goods.
Zip-top bags are great for holding medications, nutritional supplements and toiletries. They’re also good to have around for any extra things that you find after you’ve finished taping all of your boxes shut.
You’ll want to label all of your moving boxes clearly to identify their contents.
We’ll explain this further in a moment.
Organize Your Belongings before the move
It’s a good idea to pack your things over the course of several days or weeks.
Plan each day around a theme — pack all of your clothes on one day, for example — and group all items fitting the theme together before you begin.
Clean the items before packing them; you don’t want to fill your new home with dust when you unpack your things.
Label and Inventory Your Moving Boxes
Does that box labeled “Bedroom” contain the sheets, pillows and blanket that you want to put on the bed the day that you move into your new home, or does it contain the suits or cocktail dresses that you may not actually use for months?
To make the process of moving into your new home as stress free as possible, you should label your boxes with as much information as you can.
Labeling a box with its destination — such as in the example above — is a good start.
It’s even better, though, to label each box with a brief description of its contents.
Did you buy a notepad as we recommended above?
Good — use it to inventory your items as you pack them. Give each box a number.
Write the numbers — and a list of the items in each numbered box — in the notepad.
Having an inventory won’t just help you when you unpack after reaching your new home; it’ll also help with your insurance claim if a box is lost during the trip.
Don’t forget to label boxes containing fragile or heavy items. Your movers will thank you.
Plan Your Transportation Strategy
If you plan to have the moving company bring your property directly to your new home, you’ll need to have someone ready to let the movers in and supervise the unloading process.
You and your family could fly out and arrive at your new home in advance.
You may need to send your spouse and children in advance, though, while you stay behind to drive your car to your new home.
Whether you drive or fly to your new home, it’s a good idea to handle the transportation of your most valuable items yourself.
Most movers don’t want the responsibility of transporting your priceless jewelry, family heirlooms, precious metals or Babe Ruth baseball cards.
If an item is worth more to you than the money you’d receive from an insurance claim, transport it yourself.
Remember that many unexpected things can happen during a cross-country move. Traffic conditions or a problem with the van could delay the movers.
If you’re driving, you may get tired and opt for an unplanned hotel stay. Every member of your family should pack an overnight bag with his or her most essential items.
Pack Your Items the Right Way
Tips for Packing Furniture and Appliances
One of the best things about hiring movers is that movers are experts when it comes to moving very large items such as furniture and appliances.
Movers will generally come with moving blankets and plastic wrap for protecting your large items. You can use your own blankets to protect furniture if you need to, but your linens may get stained or torn.
If your furniture is of the self-assembled variety, disassembling it for transport may help to conserve space in the moving van.
Before disassembling an IKEA entertainment console with dozens of parts, though, make sure that you know how to put it back together.
Take pictures if necessary, and use a zip-top bag to hold screws and other small parts. Use packing tape to affix the bag to the underside of the furniture.
Stop buying food 7-10 days before your move. Eat all of your meals at home so you can use as much of your stored food as possible.
You may want to bring expensive items such as bottles of wine or aged balsamic vinegar to your new home. Otherwise, you should plan to replace your food after you move.
Give away or discard whatever you aren’t able to eat.
Empty and turn off your refrigerator at least one full day before the move so you can clean and dry it thoroughly. If you don’t, mold may grow in the refrigerator during transport.
Tips for Packing Clothing
Folded clothing isn’t particularly heavy, but it is bulky. Use vacuum bags to compress your clothes. If you keep clothes in a dresser, you can actually move the dresser with clothes in the drawers.
Seal the drawers with plastic wrap to prevent clothing from falling out.
Use garbage bags to move clothing on hangers. Cut a hole in the bottom of a garbage bag, and push the hangers’ hooks through the hole.
Tape the bag at the top and bottom to prevent items from falling out. Heavy-duty contractor bags work best.
Don’t buy scented bags unless you want your clothing to smell like artificial vanilla or lavender!
Tips for Packing China and Glassware
Use plenty of packing material when boxing your kitchen goods. Brown paper or bubble wrap works well to prevent things from moving around in boxes.
When you pack your plates, place them in boxes vertically. Stacking plates horizontally puts too much weight on the bottom plates.
Boxes with divider inserts work well to keep glasses from bumping each other. Although you can buy boxes with dividers, your local liquor store can probably give you several boxes for free.
A box designed to carry a dozen wine bottles is definitely sturdy enough for your stemware.
When packing glassware, wrap each glass tightly with plenty of paper or bubble wrap. The packing material will help to prevent the glasses from scratching each other or breaking when the van goes over bumps.
If you receive a daily newspaper, start saving the newsprint several weeks before your move. It’s great packing material.
Remember, though, that the ink will rub off. Used newsprint isn’t a good choice for packing white china — and you’ll need to wash anything packed in newsprint before you eat or drink from it.
Tips for Packing Electronics
For a heavy electronic item such as a television or desktop computer, the original retail box is your best transportation option.
The box will contain molded Styrofoam designed to fit the item snugly.
If you don’t have the original box for a large item, you can use moving blankets and plastic wrap to protect it like you would a large piece of furniture.
If you aren’t tech savvy, take pictures of the back of your television, computer or stereo receiver before disconnecting the cables.
You’ll want to know where all of those cables go when it’s time to reconnect them.
Towels and blankets are perfect for protecting smaller electronics such as game consoles and DVD players.
Wrap the items well, and use packing tape to keep the towels and blankets in place. You can pack wrapped electronics in boxes. Some smaller electronic items are quite heavy, though, so don’t overfill the boxes.
Tips for Packing Attic Items
If you keep items in boxes in your attic, it’s probably unwise to hand those items off to movers as they are. Movers won’t want to handle old boxes that could possibly tear.
You’ll want to move the items in those boxes to new boxes for maximum safety.
Do you have any photos or important documents? Use a scanner to make digital copies of those items before you move.
It’s easy to damage paper items during transportation; you’ll be glad that you took the time to preserve your memories and important paperwork.
Tips for Packing Books, Movies and Video Games
Collectively, your books, CDs and other media are some of the heaviest items that you own.
Since a rolling suitcase is easy to move even when it’s full, it’s great for moving books. If you need to pack your media in boxes, use small boxes and don’t overfill them.
A large box that’s overly full of books could tear or cause an injury.
Tips for Packing Framed Pictures and Household Decorations
Since a large framed picture is a specialty item with an unusual size, your moving company can probably supply an appropriate box.
If a box is significantly larger than a particular picture, you can use wadded paper to fill the empty space and keep the picture secure during moving. Wrap the picture in a blanket for extra protection before packing it.
Household decorations such as statues and trophies often have irregular shapes, so it isn’t easy to stack them.
You can pack decorations in boxes, but wrap them in several layers of paper or bubble wrap first. Use tape to keep the paper or bubble wrap in place.
When packing the items in boxes, place the heaviest items on the bottom.
Final Thoughts: Plan Ahead to Make Your Cross-Country Move Stress Free
If you’ve hired a moving company to help with your cross-country move, we congratulate you on making the right decision.
Hiring a professional mover to transport your property is the single best thing that you can do to reduce the stress of a cross-country move.
After you’ve done that, it’s time to get down to the somewhat easier work of packing your possessions for transport.
Don’t procrastinate! The sooner you begin packing your items, the less stress you’ll experience when the big day arrives.
If you begin by packing the items that you rarely use, you can start packing several weeks in advance of the move and make the process as smooth as it can be.
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