Ultimate 3-Step Packing Guide for Your Move

Stress levels can easily rise on the day of your move due to subpar packing and planning of belongings. For this reason, we wanted to make a guide on how to pack for your move! While some of these ideas may seem elementary, when not paid attention to these simple tasks can cause headaches. Sometimes even felt weeks after the move is completed! By following this ultimate 3-step guide for your move, you can insure it will be smooth and enjoyable!

Step 1: Planning Your Pack

The first step in our Ultimate 3-step packing guide for your move is often overlooked. That first step is to set a realistic packing plan. Ideally, you would pack all your belongings weeks in advance. This would ensure the day of your move goes as smooth as possible. But when prepping, you still have to live your life normally up until the day of your move. You’ll need your daily-used items readily available. It’s hard to make dinner when your pots, pans, and dishes are all packed up. The solution is to formulate a plan of attack to tackle your packing. You also want to do it in a way that limits inconveniences to your daily routine. You want your packing game plan at least 2-5 weeks before your move. This will also depend on the size of your home and amount of belongings you have.

The best way to figure out where to start is to create a list of rooms/areas in your house and rank them on how regularly you use items in those rooms. For example, bathrooms and the kitchen would rank higher on the list than the home gym. Especially if that gym turned into an extra clothing rack over the years! This serves two purposes. 1) you can see where to start packing and 2) you make sure no areas of your house are forgotten. Rooms such as storage closets and sheds tend to be overlooked and usually require significant time to pack up. Once you have a list together, start packing all the items in those rooms that aren’t frequently used. After one room is complete, work your way up the list.

Next you can move on to the rooms you use more frequently. Figure out what items you don’t typically use or can afford to have inaccessible for a week or so. For instance, we all have a few small kitchen appliances. Some are in the back of a cabinet that haven’t seen the light of day since 1999! Pack those away first. By doing this, you will begin to chip away at the more trafficked rooms. This will prevent more headaches down the road in case you underestimate how much time packing the kitchen will actually take.

The last step in the planning stage is to create a timeline/schedule to keep yourself accountable, as procrastination will keep rearing its ugly head around every corner. Below are two examples of timelines you could use for your packing schedule:

Example Move Date 6/30

Step 2: Gauging Supplies

Before you can get into all that packing, you’ll need to know what supplies you’ll need and how many to purchase. The second step in out Ultimate 3-step packing guide for your move is about supplies. There are tons of specialty supplies that you can purchase for your move. Some of these specialty boxes and wraps can be costly and when shopping for them. You may have overwhelming thoughts of ‘do I really need this’? Now, it is common for supply companies to offer ‘box buy back’ programs so you can purchase extra boxes worry-free because you can return them if unused. While this can be beneficial, this requires an extra trip back to the supply store to return the boxes and the offer usually doesn’t apply to other supplies.

Even if this doesn’t seem like an inconvenience, it’s still nice to initially know approximately how many boxes to buy. The main variable for gauging your supplies is knowing how much stuff you actually have. We’ve seen four bedroom houses with thirty boxes and one bedroom apartments with close to two hundred. Don’t fret, these are extremes, and we’ve found there are average numbers of supplies. Below is a list of common supplies broken down to show what is typically necessary for your move and how much of each supply to buy.

Boxes & Tape

Below are two charts: first is the average number of boxes broken down by room, and second is the average number of boxes per home:

These average box counts for your home may vary. If you have a library full of books, multiple sets of china or other collectibles, well-loved children (aka lots of toys), or an extensive wardrobe, your box count may be higher. This chart provides a base for your box needs. As for tape, we prefer brown shipping tape (although clear packing tape is more than okay) and roughly one roll of tape is enough for 10-15 boxes.

Newsprint Paper

Newsprint paper is our go-to for non-sentimental breakable items. This includes items such as plates, bowls, glasses and other kitchen items that you use on a regular basis. Newsprint can also cover non-breakable items you simply don’t want scratched or marked up (such as plaques, watch display cases, and jewelry boxes). Or ball it up and use it to fill awkward, empty spaces in boxes to ensure nothing will move.

Newsprint comes in boxes of 200 sheets and you can be expect to use 1-2 boxes of newsprint for a typical kitchen and an additional 1-2 boxes for the rest of your home. One frequently asked question is ‘can you just use newspaper instead’? The answer is of course! With that, there are two things to consider if using newspaper: 1) typically newspaper is thinner than newsprint so you may need up to double the amount and 2) newsprint paper is clean, whereas newspaper has the possibility for ink or other residue to be present.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap can also be an option instead of newsprint paper. It does offer an additional level of protection for wrapped items, however it comes at a much higher price (bubble wrap can be $0.40/ft verses newsprint at $0.03/ft, making bubble wrap over 10x more expensive). When it comes to very delicate items or items with glass such as figurines, pictures, and delicate china, use bubble wrap to ensure protection. As outlined above, less valuable breakables such as kitchenware will have more than enough protection with newsprint when packed in boxes correctly. While case dependent, one 200 ft. roll of bubble wrap is usually enough for an average 3 bedroom house.

Specialty Supplies

The only specialty supplies we typically use and recommend are TV boxes and wardrobe boxes. TV boxes are for flat screen TVs and pictures/art. Wardrobe boxes are for any clothing you don’t want wrinkled or to have to rehang. You will need one TV box per TV and wardrobe boxes depend on your individual needs. Wardrobe boxes usually fit 24 inches of hanging clothes. To calculate how many you will need, measure how many inches/feet of hanging clothes. Then, divide by 24 inches to get the total number of boxes you will need. Other specialty supplies such as dish/glass packs, picture boxes, and mattress covers add additional protection if you wish to spend the money. From our experience, it is case-by-case dependent on whether they are necessary or not. By following this section of our Ultimate 3-step packing guide for your move, it will help you not overspend.

Step 3: Packing, Marking & Labeling

As you begin packing, there are a few cardinal rules you should follow. When done correctly, you can insure your items will be safe during transport. This will also aiding in the smoothness of the entire move. The last step in our ultimate 3-step packing guide for your move, is on the actual packing of your belongings.

Packing Rule 1: Don’t Overpack Boxes

The first rule of packing your boxes is do not overpack/stuff boxes. It can be tempting to see if you can pack all your belongings into as few boxes as possible; that’s efficiency, right? Technically, yes. Where you’ll wind up paying for this false sense of efficiency is in the safety of the items in the box. As well as the practicality of actually moving them. If you overpack boxes, there will be more weight and pressure on every item that is in there. In this situation, any breakables have a significantly higher chance of being broken even when proper protection.

The next issue comes with the practicality of moving an overstuffed box. While you can take an XL box with books or weights and fill it to brim, from experience, that box may not be moving anywhere. Even if it can be picked up, the amount of weight in the box may cause the box itself to fail as many boxes are not meant to hold an exorbitant amount of weight. A simple rule of thumb is to keep the boxes under 10 lbs if containing fragile items and under 40 lbs if not fragile to prevent any unwanted damage.

Packing Rule 2: Fill Open Space

The next packing rule is to fill any vacant space in boxes. You may be thinking, ‘Hey! Didn’t you just tell me not to over pack them?’ And that is correct, however that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve both of these goals. Once a box gets close to it’s maximum weight (see previous paragraph) you should fill any empty space by light, voluminous item such as a towel, drape, or balled up newsprint.

Packing Rule 3: Like Packs Like

The final rule in packing boxes is using the rule ‘like packs like’. What this means is similar objects should be together. Light fragile items should be in a box together. Books should go together (in a small book box, of course), and so on. Issues can arise when heavy items are together with light fragile ones. Such as packing the crockpot in the same box as your wine glasses. By keeping like items together, boxes tend to pack better and the safety of the items goes up!

Marking & Labeling

Next, you’ll want to label boxes to avoid playing the ‘let’s guess what’s in this box’ game over, and over, and over again. How you label boxes is completely up to you, and there isn’t necessarily a correct or incorrect way to do so. Here is a brief list of methods that can be utilized in marking and labeling:

Room Name

You can label boxes by simply naming them. Some examples are ‘kitchen’, ‘storage’, ‘Alex’s Bedroom’, etc.


You can assign unique colors or numbers can be to each room in your house. The colors/number will show where each box came from. This practice can be useful when using movers. That way you don’t have to worry about boxes for ‘Brian’s Bedroom’ being places in ‘Billy’s Bedroom’. With this method, it is a good idea to put a label on the doorway of each room. That way the mover’s know which room is which.


Boxes that contain breakable or fragile items should be obviously marked. Most people tend to do this. Keep in mind, marking too many boxes as fragile may lead to the marking losing its value. All boxes should be handled with a normal level of care. Ones marked as fragile should be handled with extra care. Marking as fragile also indicates to your movers where the these boxes can or cannot be packed in the moving truck.

Moving is an orchestration with many moving parts. Many of these parts are preparatory and, when done correctly, can significantly impact the experience in a positive and enjoyable manner. You can use this ultimate 3-step packing guide for your move as a resource for moves of all sizes to help you properly plan. After planning, the next step will be either renting a truck for your move or hiring a mover. If you are moving yourself, watch this video on how to rent a moving truck. If you are looking for a mover, click below to get your free estimate!

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Moving U & Junk U is a full-service moving and junk removal company located in the Greater Philadelphia Area, Reading, PA, and Dayton, OH

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