4 Essential Moving Tips from Packing Pro Maria MacNamara

It’s probably one of the least glamorous parts of travel (and life); that’s right, I’m talking about moving. Whether it’s down the block or halfway around the world, the process can be full of stress and uncertainty. That’s why I asked international traveler and packing pro Maria MacNamara of the style letters for her tips on making a smooth transition to your new place. Take it away, Maria…

Let’s face it – moving is stressful. In my 32 years, I’ve moved across city lines, state lines, and the Atlantic Ocean, so you might say I’ve learned a thing or two about packing. Even in the best of situations, getting from A to B is no easy feat, but there are a few things you can do to make it run more smoothly. So roll up your sleeves, grab a few boxes, and let’s get moving.

1. Plan

  • Whether you have six months or six weeks before your move, a game plan is crucial. I like to set a moving date and work backwards, allowing time for decluttering, packing, and cleaning. You can adjust your time frame as needed, but marking it on your calendar is a great starting point and will make the whole process feel less daunting.
  • As an obsessive list-maker, I’m a big fan of writing down all your “to-do’s” in one place and then organizing them by category. Get it all out of your head and onto paper, and then sort the items by matter of importance and timeline. Breaking a huge list into small tasks keeps it manageable, and there’s a great sense of accomplishment in crossing off even the simplest of things on a day-to-day basis.
  • Still feeling stressed? Remember this: Do what you can do now, take the rest as it comes. There’s only so much you can plan for and only so much you can do today. You’ve got this. (Really, you do.)

2. Prep

  • Now it’s time to take a survey of your current living situation and assess just how much stuff you really have. This is where I usually get really overwhelmed and procrastinate indefinitely. Don’t be like me – you’ve got this. I like to attack this on a room-to-room basis, starting with the biggest and most cluttered of them all. (By the time you get down to the bathroom, it will be a piece of cake.) This is the time to think about what you want to bring with you – and what you want to donate or pitch before you leave. Look at this time as an opportunity to finally get rid of everything you’ve been hoarding over the years. (Dusty magazines from three years ago? Just let ‘em go, dude.) Don’t worry about trekking to Goodwill just yet – use this as a sorting period.
  • Unless you have a moving company, you’re going to do this the old-fashioned way – with boxes, bubble wrap, and a crazy amount of masking tape. Start stocking up on supplies now.
  • The closer you get to Moving Day, start making labels for your boxes. I like to pack by room, labeling each box with everything inside. (This will be a lifesaver when you arrive at your new home and face the OTHER side of moving: unpacking.)

3. Purge

  • Now is the time to be ruthless. Have bookshelves of novels you’ve already read and don’t plan to read again? Sell them back to a used bookstore or donate them to a book drive. Is your closet packed full of pieces you never wear? If you haven’t worn them by now, you won’t. (Trust me.) Host a clothes swap with friends, donate gently used pieces to charity, or sell them to consignment shops. Anything stained, ripped, or fifteen years old? Time to pitch it.
  • If you’ve already signed the lease/mortgage to your new place, you probably have a good idea of what furniture you’ll need – and what you can do without. Craigslist is a great place to offload unwanted furniture, and that’s just one less thing you need to worry about bringing with you. (Not to mention carrying up the stairs and fitting through the door later on.)
  • There will be times, many times, where you’ll be on the fence about a particular item. The one thing to ask yourself: “Where is this going to go in my new place?” If you can’t answer this question, it’s time to find an alternative home for it, be it rented storage or the garbage can. You’ve got this. (Just ask if you really need it.)

4. Pack

  • You’ve made a plan, prepped your place, and purged it of anything you don’t need or want. Now it’s time to pack the rest and make that move! If you followed steps 1 – 3, filling each box should be pretty easy and is best enjoyed with good Pandora stations and a cold beverage or two. Once you’re packed, you can focus on other important matters (like forwarding your mail to your new address) and more fun things (like goodbye parties and exciting plans for your new home). See, you totally had this.

Happy Moving Day!

Thanks, Maria! Maria MacNamara is a writer, style blogger and semifinalist in Redbook’s Real Women Style Awards (you can vote here). Check out more from Maria on the style letters blog, the style letters on Facebook, Twitter @styleletters, Pinterest and Instagram.

How do you handle the stress of moving?

Featured Image courtesy of LuSarah Seas Photography