packing goods

Assuming you decided to pack your own belongings, this article will help you with a step-by-step plan to tackle this big step.  Careful planning and packing will save you time, money and potentially a lot of frustration.

Step 1 – What stays and what goes?

Decide what will move with you and what will stay behind.  There may be items that you no longer need or want.  As soon as you have made those decisions, physically remove unwanted goods so that you have more space to work.

If you have specialty items (i.e. chandeliers, sculptures, piano) or items that are worth a lot, you may want to have a professional pack those.

Step 2 – Stock up on packing supplies

Try to estimate what you’ll need and make sure you have enough on hand.

  1. Boxes. Start collecting boxes from your place of work, friends or stores.  Look for boxes that have been slightly used and of varying sizes.
  2. Bubble wrap or other “padding” materials.  You will want to have some sort of material to protect more fragile items.  A way to save money is to use shredded paper to fill boxes.
  3. Furniture padding
  4. Packing paper – use only unprinted newsprint paper to wrap items.  Regular newspapers and colored tissue papers are messy and they may bleed ink on your possessions.
  5. Tape
  6. Markers
  7. Labels
  8. Box cutter

Step 3 – Pack and Stay Organized

Time is precious when you are moving.  Start packing a few boxes every day beginning a few weeks before your scheduled move date.  Pack on a room-by-room basis and do one area of the room at a time.

Clearly label all of your boxes.  Even though it seems to take so much time to label, proper labeling will save you a lot of time at the new home.  Label the top and sides of boxes with:

  • Your name
  • Room: kitchen, dining room, bedroom, etc…
  • Contents: You can get as detailed as you want – keep it high level (i.e., cook books and spices) or be as detailed as you want (i.e., The Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, salt, pepper, sugar, flour, etc…).  An option is to number each box and cross-reference the contents in a spreadsheet.
  • Fragile, This End Up or Heavy: This will help protect your goods and the people who are moving them.

Additional smart packing tips and how to keep your goods safe

  • Clothes, towels, linens, pillows can be used to keep fragile goods safe.  Remember to mark the contents on the box so that you do not drop the fragile goods when unpacking!
  • Tape lose items into a bundle – i.e., ski poles, brooms, mops, etc.…  This will make them a lot easier to transport.
  • When moving furniture, make sure you keep all parts together with the item itself.  Screws, bolts and other small pieces can be put into a self-locking plastic bag then taped to the furniture itself.
  • Wrap all furniture that can scratch in protective padding – i.e., table tops, headboards, mirrors, etc..
  • Disassemble all furniture with pieces that can come apart.
  • Keep box weight at a minimum.  Boxes should weigh somewhere between 30 to 50 pounds or less.  If you have any overweight boxes, make sure you mark them clearly.
  • Tape boxes closed rather than folding the tops and bottoms into one another.

What not to pack

Some common household items cannot be included in your shipment because they are hazardous materials.  Examples of these materials include flammables such as paint, varnish and thinners, gasoline, kerosene and oil, bottled gas, aerosol cans, nail polish and remover, ammunition and explosives, corrosives, and cleaning fluids and detergents.  If you are unsure, ask your mover what is allowed.

If you are using the services of a professional mover, you may want to consider personally transporting irreplaceable photos, medical, legal and financial records, and other valuables such as jewelry, coin and stamp collections, etc… Accidents can happen and this can help prevent a very unfortunate situation.


Don’t forget the items in the storage locker, shed, furnace room or items that have been kept at a family member’s or friend’s place.