Take a smaller box or bin that looks different from your other packing stuff (I’m using a square cupcake holder) and keep your supplies in there. Tapes, permanent markers, bags, etc. I also have a small box full of newspapers.
Your situation will dictate how you pack and sort. If you will be in transitional housing or a shelter and can’t afford storage, you may not have anywhere safe to leave anything, and will have to carry whatever you don’t want somebody to walk off with. Keep the space you have available in mind. If you are living in the car how much space do you realistically have for stuff for each person?
Pay attention to your daily routine. Start making a list of things you will need to keep available. Besides the obvious toiletries like deodorant and a toothbrush, I packed things like a hair clip, the awesome lotion my sister makes, the only brush that works on my crazy mane, and a little jewelry in case I had an interview. You will also need disinfeting wipes and hand sanitizer.
Disassemble anything you can. Put hardware in snack-sized zip bags, label the bag with a permanent marker in case it falls off, then use masking tape to secure these to the item. You can use masking tape to attach things, like the legs of a high chair, so they stay together. Do NOT put all your hardware in one box – yes, we lost it the one time we did that.
If the box was broken down (collapsed) put it back up and tape the bottom seam and up the sides a little, so you don’t have your stuff taking a leap for the ground mid-move.
If you’re really organized, make a sheet of paper that is an inventory for each box and put it
inside on top. I’m way too lazy to do this.
Do not overload boxes, do not pack heavy things in big boxes. You risk compromising the strength of the box, and making it too heavy to move easily. (This means we had about a million book boxes.)
For fragile items wrap them in newspaper, bubble wrap, or other soft things like your beach towels. Make sure they can’t move in their box. Mark the box fragile, or with a big red F. For really fragile stuff like my carnival glass I used a red permanent marker and marked a big star on every side of the box. You can wrap TVs and monitors in comforters and secure with masking tape.
You will have some boxes that have extra space on top, as you pack consider what you might use to top off that box. If the box is full it will be more sturdy, and the contents will be less likely to move around and maybe get broken. When you stack them in storage you do not want your stacks collapsing. You can fill small spaces with crumpled newspaper, medium spaces with clothes and other fabric/soft items.
To label a box do not write on the tape, which will be ripped off and tossed as you unpack. I write the room abbreviation on two sides and the top, so regardless of which way they are stacked I can turn it so a label is out. On the top I label the room, as well as write about three categories or items that are in the box. The more you label the less work you will have later, don’t skimp on the box labeling.
When packing in trash bags with drawstrings tie the string in one knot, then tie a bow. This will stay secure while you’re throwing stuff around on truck day, but be easy to undo when you unpack (or search for that one thing you need). We packed most soft things in bags instead of boxes, like bedding and clothes.
One year I got some colored flags from the office supply store. You have to get one with maybe a dozen different colors, and you may need 4 or 5 packs. I assigned each color to a different room/area. I made a sheet that indicated which color was for which room and hung these up all over the place. Each box got a flag in the appropriate color. This made it easy to see what was what in the stacks, but I found that it was more work than it was worth by crunch time. I would not use sticky notes, they are too big and just get pulled off, but the smaller ones might work.
Seal your boxes with packing tape, which sometimes needs to be creative with liquor store boxes that were cut funny. Don’t cheap out on the packing tape, the generic is too thin and not sticky enough. When sealing the top close it just like it was originally sealed and tape it. If you fold over each side and then pull one out, the top will not be flat and the stacks will be less stable.
Box or bag everything you can, try not to leave things loose. It is much harder to pack storage with lots of odd shaped items. You will be getting so many steps, try to minimize the number of times you need to go from your house to the truck to storage…
We loaded tubs on one side of the back of our storage unit, all of our tubs were different but when possible we stacked like tubs together to keep them stable, and the top two we had to reach to load were really light ones. We loaded boxes in bookcases on the sides. We left the middle empty for furniture to be loaded last, so we didn’t have to dig past boxes to get the big stuff out.
We started with the least used items, so we won’t have to dig too far back too early. Books, DVDs, etc. Save lighter tubs or boxes and odd-shaped items for the tops of the piles so you can stack high and take advantage of all the space you are paying for.
The last box we pack in each room is labeled “Last.” I know this is the first box I want to unpack, since this is the stuff we needed access to.
To pack clothes get a backpack, and a tub. Pack complete outfits rolled up in the backpack (no whites/lights if your next load of laundry is nowhere in sight), plus one sweater and one set of pajamas. When we were living in the car we did not pack pajamas, we packed clothes that were comfortable enough to sleep in and changed in the morning as necessary. In the tub pack more outfits until it is full, these are the clothes you will be able to get to in the near future. Bag the rest. The bags go in storage, the tubs go in the car or at the front of storage, so when you can do laundry you have access to new changes you can rotate out.