How to Pack Like a Pro

Thinking about packing makes most people yawn – until they have an experience of opening up a box full of things that are broken because of poor packing! I’ve been managing moves for 30 years, and I’ve picked up a few tricks to share. If you’re not moving but know someone who is, forward this list. They’ll thank you.

  1. Don’t leave empty space in boxes. If items jostle around, they’re more likely to break.
  2. Pack lampshades in boxes. Nest them one inside the other and place a pillow in the hollow portion to give them more support.
  3. Mark boxes with “fragile” tape … strategically. Yes, everything is fragile, but don’t overdo it, or it won’t mean anything to the movers.
  4. Pack plates vertically. They’re less likely to break.
  5. Create an inventory system. Especially if the boxes are going to be placed in a storage unit for weeks or months. Give each box a number, and on a master list, record what’s in that box. When storing the boxes, place them in the storage unit by number so you can find the box easily.
  6. Color-code boxes going to different places. If boxes and furniture are going to more than one place, tag them with Super Sticky Post-it Notes. Each location should have its own color Post-it Note and initial. For example, “H” for new home, “V” for vacation home, “S” for storage unit, and “J” for John’s house. No one ever remembers what the colors correspond to, so putting an initial on it reminds people of the location. This system is extremely important for the movers.
  7. Create an “open first” box. This should have unpacking tools, plastic flatware, paper plates, some cookware, paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, soap, a first aid kit, basic toiletries, a flashlight, basic tools, your child’s favorite toy or blanket, baby items, power strips, phone and computer chargers, and pet food, leashes, and litter.
  8. Leave clothing in your dresser. Verify with your mover first, but many movers will remove the drawers and shrink-wrap them so they can carry them separately from the dresser. This goes only for clothing, not office supplies or non-clothing items.
  9. Stop watering plants a week or so before a move. Otherwise, they’re very heavy, and any water could damage the boxes.


Hungry for more? You’re in luck. I just created two amazing resources for anyone who’s moving, and they’re available on my website for free. The first is the MoveIt Toolkit – insider tips to make your move easier and less expensive. The second is a printable checklist to help you manage every move-related task from start to finish: Check out JumpStart Your Move.

I specialize in senior move management as well as organizing and interior design in the San Francisco area. See a few testimonials and stories about how I’ve helped turn challenging moves that felt impossible into positive experiences.

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