Moving: Boxes, Bubble Wrap & Tape… Oh My!

Moving is tough. It is mentally and physically taxing. It disrupts all facets of your life. It forces you to look every single possession in the eye, which can make you want to get rid of everything you own and live in an empty room (give in to this impulse at least a little bit – moving is a key time to purge!).

I have moved eight times in 15 years. Each move has been challenging in its own ways – from moving into a 4th floor, narrow-stair walk-up to packing a three-bedroom home with a two-month-old baby on my hip. But each challenge has been offset by excitement. That 4th floor walk up was my first very-own apartment. Moving with a newborn meant settling my family into our first house. Some stress and chaos is unavoidable, but with some planning and strategizing, it is possible to focus a little less on the drudgery and a little more on the excitement. A few tips to make the process at least somewhat easier…

Don’t skimp on the bubble wrap and tape

The right supplies are key for making this process go faster and reduce casualties. For less fragile items, brown packing paper is fine (start saving it from your online orders in advance – thank you, Amazon!), but when it comes to fragile items that are of sentimental or monetary value, or that you can’t function without (ahem, wine glasses), use bubble wrap. I recommend getting a few rolls of each size – the narrower sheets are great for glasses and small plates, the wide are key for diner place, platters and vases. It always surprises me how expensive bubble wrap is, but when you factor it in as part of your total moving costs, it’s a small percentage. And it’s worth it.

Another way to make a big impact, and this time for minimal cost, is your tape gun. It’s going to be your best friend for a few weeks, so it’s important you two get along. And believe me, it’s easy to get very angry at a lousy tape gun or the disposable ones that don’t give you any leverage. Invest in a good one, like the Scotch Box Sealing Dispenser ( and some decent tape.

Pack like with like – resist the urge to “tuck in”

When you’re packing, the temptation can be to start to grab at random when you have a little space for a “tuck in” object.   And in the moment, you may truly believe that you’ll remember that your vegetable peeler fit perfectly into that empty spot in a box of picture frames or that your bath towels are tucked around your cake plate. Resist the urge! When you are faced with stacks on boxes on the other side, you will save yourself time and frustration if your kitchen stuff does not get mixed in with your knick-knacks and your linen closet can be unpacked separately from your china cabinet. A little empty space in a box is ok when the result is easier unpacking on the other end!

It takes more time and more boxes than you think

If you’ve ever heard yourself saying “where did all this stuff come from?!” during a move, you are not alone. When you are forced to pull out every drawer, crawl under the beds, and reach into the far corners of your basement, the stuff seems to come out of the woodwork. It is worth taking the time to deal with the things you unearth before you throw them into a box (“hello, drawer full of old phone chargers and assorted speaker wires – do I really need to take you to my new home?”). You’ll have so much to deal with on the other end, that doing the sorting, purging, and careful packing now will make unpacking faster and easier.

And while I do urge you to get rid of stuff you don’t need to take with you, you will likely still end up with more than you think. Boxes get used up quickly (especially when you’re using lots of bubble wrap and packing like-with-like, right?) – you need more that you think you do. Even me, the eight-time mover and professional organizer, was up until 3am the night before the movers arrived using empty 12-pack boxes for last-minute kitchen stuff. Not ideal – and next time, which hopefully won’t be for a while, I’ll follow my own advice!

So, my recommendation – estimate how much time you need to pack and how many boxes you expect you’ll use, then add 50% to both. You won’t be sorry!

As I said, moving is tough. But it can be manageable. Give yourself time, and plenty of good supplies, and I promise you’ll be able to focus a little bit more on the excitement of settling in to a new space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *