The school year is coming to an end, and that means it’s time to acquire some cardboard boxes and pack up your belongings and everything else you’ve managed to acquire over these last eight months. When I started moving in at the beginning of this year, I realized that I’d made a lot of mistakes when I packed at the end of freshman year. This time, I’m attempting to correct those mistakes so things will be slightly easier come August. In the spirit of helping others avoid my issues, here are some tips I’ve come up with (with the help of our friend the internet).
Don’t wait until the last minute
The more time you have to pack, the more thought you can put into it and the more you’ll be able to set yourself up for packing and unpacking success. If you want, you can even plan your packing ahead of time, deciding what you’ll pack when and what will go where.
Get rid of things
If you have stuff you don’t need or want anymore, get rid of it. It’s less to deal with when you unpack. Check if your school or a group on campus is running a collection of used items during move out time.
Put things you need first on top
It helps to think about the order in which you might want to unpack when you pack. For instance, it’s pretty inconvenient for your mattress cover to be under all your blankets and pillows when you’re making your bed. Think about what you’ll need first to set up your new living space, such as a mattress cover, containers, hangers, and extension cords.
Pack an essentials box
If you really want to plan ahead, you can take the last tip a step further: pack a separate box of move-in day essentials to save yourself some stress by having a few basic items in one place. That way, you’ll be set even if you can’t remember what’s in every single box or you can’t unpack everything in one day. For the unpacking itself, consider scissors, Command hooks, a screwdriver, an extra phone charger or set of earbuds (to make sure you won’t have to unpack without music), and a few basic cleaning supplies. For basic living that first day, consider a change of clothes, a few utensils, a plate or bowl, some toiletries, and hair ties if you have longer hair—moving can get very hot, especially in August.
Use small boxes for heavy items
It’s a lot easier to lift a small heavy box than a large heavy box. Put lighter things like clothes and towels in large boxes and heavy things like books and dishes in smaller ones.
Put hanging clothes together in garbage bags
If you have hanging clothes and think you’ll be able to hang them in you new place too, this is a great way to make packing them easier. Secure a group of hangers together with rubber bands, put a garbage bag around the clothes, and pack them like that. When it’s time to unpack, you just hang up the bundles and remove the garbage bag and rubber bands.
Wrap breakable things with clothes or towels
You can get padding or paper to wrap your dishes, but why not use something you have to pack anyway? If you wrap breakable items in tshirts or dishrags before putting them in their box, you’ll protect your belongings and get multiple things packed away at the same time.
Cover liquid container openings
If you have opened toiletry bottles or cleaning supplies, make sure to cover their tops in case they leak. You can use saran wrap, if you have it, or Ziploc bags. I’d even suggest covering any unopened bottles; I’ve learned from experience that they can spill too.
Label your boxes strategically
This is a big one. When I packed last year, I had no problem labeling boxes of clothes or bedding, but most of my boxes had a little bit of everything, and I couldn’t figure out what to label them. What are you supposed to write on a box with a vase, a couple dishrags, an extension cord, a glittery pumpkin, and a miniature puzzle? Unable to decide, I labeled a lot of my boxes “miscellaneous.” Which is fine until you’re unpacking and everything says “miscellaneous” so you have to open several boxes to find your Command hooks or pillowcase. To avoid that, lean toward over-labeling rather than under-labeling. Your future self will thank you when she knows exactly which box has the spare phone charger or hairbrush.
Good luck with your packing, and congrats on making it through another year!