Nomad for a Day: 31 Hacks to Make Moving Easy, Straightforward and (Even) Fun

by Guest Author
Supplies are an important ingredient in a successful move.

Moving is messy; a little extra organizing can help a lot. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)


“People wish to be settled. It is only as far as they are unsettled that there is any hope for them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s nothing like a change in perspective to help you see the world anew. And when that change involves getting a new view from your bedroom window, your daily routine is in for some jolts. In other words, whether you’re moving across the country or across the street, moving can be one of the best ways to get re-energized. That said, it can also be a real pain, so here are 31 ways you can minimize the stress of moving while maximizing the adventure.

One month before you move

  1. Create a binder. Keep all of your important  paperwork together in a three-ring binder or a digital organization app like Evernote
  2. Get estimates. If you don’t already have a favorite moving company, it’s a good idea to get at least three estimates.

  1. Schedule a pick-up with your favorite local charity. This is much easier than trying to drop things off, and it’ll motivate you to get rid of more stuff sooner.
  1. Handle your paperwork. Submit your “change of address” form to the post office and cancel your utilities. Do these tasks early so you don’t have to worry about them later.
  1. Stock up on supplies. Things you’ll probably need: markers, colored tape, packing tape, newspaper or packing paper, plastic baggies of multiple sizes and drinks to offer the movers.
  1. You will need more moving boxes, so start collecting now. While supermarkets and liquor stores can supply some free boxes, containers that are actually created for moving will work better. Often, people who have recently moved will list moving boxes under “Free Stuff” on craigslist. Act fast (they go quickly) and remember to “Free” them on craigslist yourself when you’re finished. If you need to purchase boxes, most self-storage facilities sell them for $2 to $8, depending on the size and shape.
  1. Get transparent. Pick up a few see-through plastic storage boxes (see below for their use).

Start packing

  1. Go slow and steady. You can pack a box or two every night over the course of a month. You won’t need your photo albums or that copy of Madame Bovary in the next month, so start there.
  1. Make a packing kit. Put tape, scissors, markers and everything else you need for packing in a basket that can be easily carried from room to room. If you’re feeling inspired, attach a helium balloon to the basket so you don’t lose it in the chaos.
  1. Make a camping kitchen. Put a few dishes, cups, silverware and pots in one of your see-through plastic boxes. You’ll just need a few things for the last few days leading up to the move, as well as the first few days in your new home. Then you can start packing the rest of the kitchen, because…
  1. Your kitchen will be the hardest room to pack. It’ll also take the most time, so schedule accordingly.
  1. Get creative with fragile items. Use dishtowels, bath towels, sheets, and clothing to wrap framed pictures, platters, and glass figurines. Nestle stemware in socks.
  1. Pack like you’re going on vacation. You are going on vacation, albeit an extended one, so pack a suitcase with things like clothing, toiletries, and phone and computer chargers.
  1. Hire a cleaner. Have a professional clean your new place before you move in and your old place after you’ve moved out.
  1. Be cleaner. If you prefer to do the cleaning yourself, pack one of your plastic boxes with cleaning supplies and ask the movers to leave it behind when they take the rest of your things.
  1. Take advantage of plastic. When packing toiletries, remove the lids and cover the openings with saran wrap, then screw the lids back on to keep them from spilling. Use plastic baggies to hold screws and other small pieces of anything that has to be taken apart. Label the baggies and tape them to the larger parts of the item.
  1. Label efficiently. Label your boxes on the side, not the top. Color-code boxes by room so they’re easy to find.
  1. Don’t pack your closet. You may be tempted to group your hanging clothes in a plastic garbage bag with the hangers tied together at the top. Don’t bother—your movers will bring wardrobe boxes.
  1. Make cardboard your friend. Use egg cartons to store small items like jewelry. Necklaces can be threaded through empty toilet paper rolls to prevent tangling.
  1. Change your locks. Plan ahead so your locksmith can change the locks on your new home as soon as you arrive.
  1. The heavier the item, the smaller the box. Books should go in small boxes, while comforters should go in large boxes.
  1. Purge. Get rid of as much stuff as you can. If you have doubts about whether or not you’ll need or want something in your new home, put it in a box and label it with a date six months in the future. If you haven’t opened the box by that date, just donate it directly to the charity of your choice.

Moving day

  1. Hire a babysitter. Keep your children safe and out from underfoot.
  1. Sleep is good (part 1). On the morning of the move, put your bedding in a large, labeled garbage bag. Make sure it’s easily identifiable and won’t get lost in the maze of boxes.
  1. Pay in cash. Have cash on hand to pay the movers and for other immediate expenses.
  1. Keep track of your remote control. Tape the remote to the back of your television so it doesn’t get lost.
  1. Remember to take breaks for meals. Having a full stomach will help sustain you during what could be a very long day.


When you arrive

  1. Sleep is good (part 2). As soon as you arrive at your new place, make your bed. Now you have somewhere to land when you can’t keep going.
  1. Unpack one room only. If you want to start the unpacking process on moving day, set a reasonable goal.


  1. Have a sense of humor. You never know what moving will bring, and that’s part of the fun. Once you’ve done what you can to prepare, sit back and enjoy the ride!


Some of the tips in this list were adapted from:

Get estimates. If you don’t already have a favorite moving company, it’s a good idea to get at least three estimates.