The BEST Packing Tips For Moving!

Best Packing Tips For Moving Across Country | BigSteelBoxThe majority of people would agree that the worst part of moving is packing up everything you own and trying to make sure everything arrives at your new home in one piece.

We've collected the best packing tips from how long it takes to pack a house, to how to pack shirts without wrinkling them!

Whether you're moving across town or moving long distance to a different province, these packing tips will help make packing easier and more efficient.

How Long Does It Take to Pack a House?

The general rule is to begin the packing process approximately six weeks before your expected moving day. This gives you enough time to go through your belongings, decide what to take and what to leave behind, see what needs special packing supplies, and pack your things efficiently and safely.

Depending on how tight your schedule is, if you are planning a DIY move, the process of starting to pack your moving boxes should start no later than 10–14 days before your moving day.

If you hire professional movers, the following timeline will give a good estimate of their average packing time.

  • Studio/1 Bedroom Apartment: 2 - 4 hours

  • 2 Bedroom Home: 3 - 5 hours

  • 3 Bedroom Home: 6 - 10 hours

  • 4 Bedroom Home: 8 - 12 hours

  • 5 Bedroom Home: 10 - 12 hours

What to Pack First When Moving

What to Pack First When Moving | BigSteelBoxWhen looking around your home it is easy to get overwhelmed with how much stuff you own and start to get lost with where and what to start packing. First things first, purge your belongings!

Once you’re left with the must haves, your next step is to pack the items you use less frequently. As you get closer to your moving day, work up to your most used things.

Here is an example of a four week out timeline.

Four Weeks Out

  • Pictures/wall decorations

  • Storage units

  • Albums and scrapbooks

  • Books

  • Off-season clothes

Three Weeks Out

  • Linens and fine china

  • Fragile knickknacks

  • DVDs, CDs, video games

  • Coat closets

  • Games, puzzles, toys

  • Crafts, sewing, art supplies

Two Weeks Out

  • Jewelry

  • Toiletries

  • Leftover knickknacks

  • All linens, except for one sheet/towel per person

  • Kitchen, except items for daily use

  • Office supplies

One Week Out

  • Clothes

  • Rest of kitchen

  • Medicine

  • Electronics

  • Garage items, sports equipment
  • Disassemble furniture

Two Days Out

  • Curtains

  • Food

  • Clothes

Moving Day

  • Food

  • Remaining sheets and towels

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Remaining clothes

Lastly create a final moving box with essentials for your first few days at your new home. This box should be the last thing loaded and the first thing brought into your new place.

Download and Print the FREE BigSteelBox Moving Checklist to get a head start on your move.

How to Pack Dishes for Moving

How to Pack Dishes for Moving | BigSteelBoxYour dish ware will be some of the most fragile items you will be packing in bulk. It's definitely worth it to pay a little bit extra for special dish boxes which include a thicker cardboard and saves you the cost of having to triple coat your dishes with paper or bubble wrap.

  • Make sure your dishes are wrapped in packing paper and items are tightly packed with no extra space in the box for dishes to shift and break.

  • Put a layer of packing paper on the bottom and top of the box to cushion your dishes.

  • Wrap each dish individually.

  • Place heaviest items at the bottom of the box, lighter on top.

  • Pack plates and bowls on their side, NOT FLAT.

  • Load cups and glasses standing up.

It doesn’t need to be tidy. The most important thing is to have enough layers of packing paper to protect your dishes.

How to Pack Shoes for Moving

Separate your shoes into groups. Organize them based on which season you wear them so you will be able to easily see which shoes can be packed first. Clean all the shoes you will be packing and make sure they’re dry (moisture is not your friend).

Find any kept shoeboxes or other similar small boxes. They are the correct size and can be easily packed into larger boxes or tighter storage places without ruining your shoes. If you are packing shoes without their original boxes here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Stuff packing paper into the shoe to help them keep their shape. (You can also use socks!)

  • For tall shoes pack paper all the way up the leg of the boot.

  • Avoid newspaper as the ink can transfer.

  • For sandals or lighter shoes consider packing them in a closet shoe organizer.

  • Pack each pair together. Start with one shoe and wrap until completely covered, then start the second shoe. If packing boots pack each boot separately.

  • Once they are wrapped together in a bundle tape the paper shut and label the package.

  • Pack these shoe bundles into larger boxes. Pack heavier shoes at the bottom of the box.

  • Pack shoes from the same season in the same box.

How to Pack Pictures for Moving

This is another area where specialized boxes are important to keeping your items safe.

Picture boxes are key to keeping large pictures, paintings, or other artwork safe from damage, especially during a cross country move.

Packing with a picture box

  • Line the bottom of the box with packing paper.

  • Place picture inside the box and stuff the front, back and top with paper.

  • Look for space to add a smaller or thinner picture in the same box.

  • For moving long distances make sure pictures are not shifting in the box and have enough padding.

  • When loading into the truck pack pictures upright, not flat.

Packing with another box

  • Find a box bigger than your largest picture.

  • Lay it on its side and secure the bottom of the box

  • Wrap your pictures in bubble wrap like you would a present. Secure sides and corners with tape.

  • Slide into box and fill sides with extra padding.

  • Lay other wrapped pictures on top until box is full and continue filling in extra space with box filler.

  • Once full, shift box upright and fill any empty spaces. Label and close box.

How to Pack Shirts without Wrinkles

When you have settled into your new home, the last thing you should have to worry about is having to rewash or iron your clothing due to improper packing.

Whether you are packing your clothing in a wardrobe box, sealed bags, or in your luggage, there are many ways to help pack more in less space and save your clothes from damage.

  • Use plastic. Make sure to save up all of your dry cleaning bags leading up to moving day because they will come in handy. Everything that you would normally put on a hanger should be packed with an outfit in a dry cleaning bag.

  • Don’t over pack. Shoving in extra clothes or over filling boxes and bags will crush your clothes and make them wrinkle. Try to leave room and avoid trying to fit in extras like shoes, books, or toiletries.

  • Roll or Fold. For anything not hanging in a cardboard box it should be rolled or folded and laid flat. Thicker items, sweaters or long sleeved shirts should be folded with all buttons buttoned and zippers zipped. All pants and tops should be folded lengthwise and rolled.

Remember to keep your old clothes in mind before you donate them. They can come in handy to package breakable items and take up extra box space.

How to Pack Books When Moving

How to pack books when moving | BigSteelBoxPeople tend to overlook books when thinking about what they need to protect in their move. But there are some simple things you can do to prolong the shelf life of your books and pack them in the most efficient way possible.

  • Start early. It may be a heavy and daunting task but try to get it over with early. This will make you commit to packing them properly and most likely give you a lot of extra room.

  • Use small boxes. Books are heavy. Do not try and cram a load of books into a large box or container. In the long run it is better to have many smaller lighter boxes than a few boxes that will require three people to move.

  • If you have extra luggage bags it can be easier on your back to pack books in something with wheels.

  • Double tape boxes. Most boxes can be used as book boxes but it is important to make sure the bottom of the box is strong and secure.

  • Three ways to pack books:

    • Straight up and down (like a library shelf).

    • On their side (laying down). Pack the larger heavier books on the bottom to reduce shifting in box.

    • With their spines down. This is a good idea if your books will be stored long term.

  • Take out extra space. Use newspaper, packing paper, or bubble wrap to fill empty spaces in the book box.

  • Try to keep the weight of the box to approximately 30 pounds or less.

If you are packing fragile items or books you would like to keep in excellent condition, wrap them with packing paper and reinforce any covers with cardboard individually.

How to Pack a TV for Moving

You will most likely be deciding to pack this item as close to your moving date as possible so keep that in mind so you don’t rush it at the last minute.

There are some things you can do to get organized early and give yourself an easier job when you go to unpack your TV at your new home.

  • Take pictures of TV, DVD player, cable box, and stereo system so you can plug everything back where it came from.

  • Label all your cables so you know how they reconnect, or take a picture that clearly shows the connections.

  • Do not package the cables and remotes with the TV in the box. This can cause damage to the TV itself. Have a separate container specifically for any electronic accessories.

  • If it is a heavy TV or mounted on the wall ask someone for help removing it from the wall or lifting into a box.

  • If you haven’t saved the original box for your TV, measure the size of your TV and visit a shipping supply store for an appropriate box. Wrap in bubble wrap and place in the box for transport.

How to Pack Glassware for Moving

Glassware is generally oddly shaped and always hard to package. Things like wine glasses and coffee mugs are quite breakable and need to be wrapped correctly and packed securely so they will not be damaged during your move.

Wine Glasses

  • Wrap each glass individually.

  • Stuff the interior and wrap many layers of paper around the stem.

  • Do not mix wine glasses with other glassware or kitchen supplies.

  • Try to find wine boxes at the liquor store which already have divisions built into them.

  • Fill any gaps in the box with packing paper.

  • Write “FRAGILE!” on the box.


  • Put a layer of packing paper or bubble wrap at the bottom of the box.

  • Fill the inside of the mug with packing paper and wrap 2–3 layers of paper around the outside and the mug handle.

  • You shouldn’t be able to feel the edges of the cup once wrapped properly.

  • Fill any gaps in the box with packing paper.

  • Write “FRAGILE!” on the box.

This is where old clothes and kitchen linens come in handy. This is a great place to use your old knee high socks as a perfect holder for your mug or a dish towel as a buffer layer in the bottom of your box.

How to Pack Luggage to Save Space

Pack luggage to save space when movingIt may seem towards the end of packing that there isn’t much left but you will be surprised how fast luggage space fills up. Some tips in saving space in your luggage:

  • Separate delicates. Buy a package of mesh laundry bags and use them to sort and store your delicates.

  • Use the socks. Fill empty spaces and stuff shoes with your extra socks

  • Pack it away. Place folded clothes in a pile in the middle of your bag and use the rolled up items to fill in the spaces on the side. Put heavier items at the end, which will be the bottom when the bag is standing upright.

  • Use vacuum bags. These bags can condense the amount of space your clothes take up immensely—great for reducing the space coats or other bulky items take up.

  • Use compartments in your luggage to separate shoes, toiletries, and other valuables. Only place light items on top.

  • Rolling your clothes reduces the amount of space you need and saves your items from wrinkles.

  • Wear whatever you can! On your moving day wear layers. Try to wear any jackets or extra clothes you have left over.

  • Avoid packing liquids in your suitcase. Accidents happen. If this can’t be avoided first put them in a plastic bag or use plastic wrap to reseal the bottles before putting the caps on.

Overall folding your shirts is the most common but least effective way to save space in your suitcase. By rolling your clothing and using vacuum-sealed bags you can optimize your space and have more room for additional items.

How to Pack Kitchen Items for Moving

This might be the hardest room to pack. With so many items and a lot to sort through, the kitchen can remain one of the last rooms you tackle.

Make sure to sort through every item and take an inventory. Do you use an item daily? Can it be donated or thrown away? Can it be packed in the near future? Here are some of the supplies you will need to pack a family sized kitchen:

  • 5 large boxes for light and different shaped objects.

  • 10 medium boxes for heavier items.

  • 5 heavy duty boxes for your fragile items, plates, wine glasses, and fine china.

  • Try and find boxes that already have dividers built into them, i.e. wine boxes. Or buy cell kits, which can fit into any box.

  • Packing paper. Don’t use newspaper as it can rub off on your dishes.

7 Steps:

  1. Pack items used infrequently, i.e. baking supplies, wine glasses, crystal, special event dishes, extra oven mitts, blenders, and special utensils.

  2. Pack all unopened bottles.

  3. Pack things stored in drawers and shelves, i.e. cookbooks, cutlery (keep one set per person), small appliances, and spices.

  4. Pack dishes, use cell boxes for stemware, and take your time making sure everything is wrapped and layered with packing paper.

  5. Pack pots and pans. Keep one in your essentials box but pack the rest. Keep lids in the same box.

  6. Pack food and canned goods. Anything non-perishable can go into boxes or containers.

  7. If you're moving your appliances get them ready, i.e. clean thoroughly, secure any cables, and disconnect properly.

How to Pack Clothes for Storage

How to Pack Clothes for Storage in a BigSteelBoxWe have already discussed how to best pack your clothes so they do not get wrinkled and how to pack clothes to optimize space in your luggage. Many of those tips apply to packing your clothes when they are being stored but there are some additional things to keep in mind.

  • Wash your clothes before packing.

  • If storing for a few months, vacuum bags can come in handy and save space, but beware, if putting clothes away for long term storage they can damage your clothes.

  • Air tight plastic containers are your best bet for clothes storage. They will keep your clothes dry and away from moisture. Make sure they are clean and dry before adding your clothes.

  • If you are packing anything sentimental or antique use acid free plastic boxes.

  • Hang heavy items like coats instead of folding in a box.

  • Use cedar balls over mothballs. They smell better and are just as effective.

  • Keep clothes in a clean, cool, dark, and dry place.

How to Pack Jewelry for Moving

You don’t want to tackle a tangled mess of necklaces or ties when you start unpacking at your new home. Here are some quick things you can do to keep all your jewelry organized.

  • Necklaces

    • Straws – Cut a regular drinking straw to length, feed one side of the chain through, and clasp the ends. No more tangles!

    • Toilet paper rolls – Use the same way as straws but for wider necklaces or bracelets.

  • Earrings

    • Cardboard – Poke holes with a safety pin into a small piece of cardboard.

    • Pill organizers

    • Ziploc bags

  • Rings

    • Egg cartons

    • Sunglasses cases

    • Pill organizers

How to Pack Lamps for Moving

Lamps can be difficult to pack with their awkward shapeLamps can be difficult to pack with their awkward shape and generally need extra protection to save a glass lampshade or antique base.

Separate the lamp from the lampshade and prepare to pack them separately. You need:

  • A large box for the lamp shade

  • Appropriate sized box for lamp body

  • Packing paper

  • Corrugated paper/bubble wrap

Place packing paper at the bottom of the lampshade box. Place shade into the box and layer top with packing paper. You may be able to fit more than one lampshade in a box. Once full, label and seal the box.

Wrap the lamp base with corrugated paper or bubble wrap and tape once wrapped for protection. It should be packed upright in its own box, packed with packing paper, and labelled fragile.  

How to Pack a BigSteelBox Moving Container

When walking into your BigSteelBox for the first time it may seem like you have tons of space, but that space fills quickly. Some quick tips on how to best fill your BigSteelBox.

  • Pack from bottom to top before moving outwards.

  • Pack heavy furniture or bulky items towards the back of the container but keep the weight distribution even.

  • Use loading straps to secure your items to the walls of the container where possible and secure as you go. (A BigSteelBox has D-rings installed at the top and bottom of the walls every 4 feet, to help with securing your load.)

  • Try and fit smaller flexible items into small spaces or under furniture.

  • Use a dolly to bring items in and out of your BigSteelBox. It’s just about ground level which means no steep moving truck ramps or annoying lift gates. Save your back for moving day.

  • Make sure nothing is easy to move or can shift while being transported. Use stretch wrap and tie-down straps to secure all items.

If you think BigSteelBox might have the perfect mobile storage solution to help with your long distance move you can easily request a quote online or give us a quick call at 1-800-373-1187. We are happy to help you!

Finally, if you think this post could help one of your family members or friends, share it on your favourite social-media channel. You never know whose life you might change!

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