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The Best Way to Pack for a Move In a Hurry

By Katie McCann

Life comes at you fast, and those who have been through a sudden relocation know it all too well. One day your routine proceeds as expected, the next day you’re uprooted, scrambling to pack up and find new living arrangements as quickly as possible. Of course, there’s also those of us who simply have the tendency to leave everything to the last minute, including moving.

No matter the circumstances that cause you to frantically run around filling up boxes, it helps to know how to pack up your things quickly, intuitively and in a way that won’t cause you headaches during the unboxing phase later on. With that, here are some tips on how to pack for a move in a hurry.

Figure Out the Scope of the Job

We know you’re rushed but first thing’s first, step back and assess the situation at hand. At first, you will inevitably feel like everything is a priority and you won’t know where to start. Taking time to consider the logistics will help you to make a game plan:

  • Assess the scope of the work. Is this going to be a job you’ll be able to handle with a few friends and a rental van? Or is it going to require a moving company?
  • Understand your living situation. Do you have a place waiting for you? Or are you crashing somewhere temporarily until you line something up? If it’s the former, you will most likely need temporary storage. We will come pick up your stuff and store what you need to be stored until your new place is ready.
  • Make sure you have moving supplies. At any given time you may need: boxes, luggage bag(s), a box cutter, strong tape, stretch wrap, labels, permanent marker, packing paper (or newspaper), bubble wrap, a pen and paper, scissors, sealable bags, large trash bags.

The sooner you have these essentials figured out and organized, you can tackle the task at hand with a little bit more peace of mind.

Purge Any and All Non-Essential Items

Disregarding the destabilizing nature of a last-minute move, it is a great excuse to purge any non-essential items from your life. Plus, the move seems far less overwhelming if you have less physical stuff to pack up and unpack later. Decluttering, especially in the context of a last-minute move, is all about prioritizing practicality over sentimentality.

Consider how often you wear certain clothes, use certain electronics or kitchen tools and think realistically about what you’ll need in your new place. Quickly organize your stuff into three piles:

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Discard

Once you have your piles, it’s time to purge. Bag up the garbage and recycling, find a donation outlet for things like unwanted furniture, non-perishable food, clothing and items you no longer use. Once that’s done, get started on packing up the keep items. If your keep pile is still overwhelming, consider storing a few items with Second Closet. We’ll pick your extra stuff, store it and return it once you’ve settled into your new digs.

Pack Smart and Pack Fast

Pack in a way that will make the process easy and efficient on the other end. First off, pack a bag of essential things that will stay with you during the moving process. These are things that won’t go into the back of the moving truck or your friend’s minivan such as everyday electronics, valuables, very important documents, a few outfits, everyday toiletries, medications, etc. These essentials are different for everyone, just make sure you have what’s important to you. Next, start packing your boxes:

  • Move room by room. Not only will this help keep your mind organized, but it will also keep your items roughly sorted by room for when you unpack later.
  • Build your boxes as you need them. Navigating through a sea of empty boxes will only make things harder.
  • Be fast, not precise. Don’t worry too much about meticulously sorting the boxes by item. Last-minute moves should be about expediency first and foremost.
  • Label boxes. Once a box is packed, be sure to label it according to some or all of its items. This doesn’t take too long and it will help immensely during unpacking.
  • Pack safely. For boxes with fragile or valuable items, use packing paper, bubble wrap or line the boxes with kitchen or bath towels for extra protection. Also, be sure to label the top side of the box if it’s not immediately clear.
  • Don’t fold your clothes neatly. You have no time to waste! Leave your clothes on hangers and pack them in large, clear garbage bags to save some time.
  • Take advantage of knapsacks and extra luggage bags. There’s no use packing these things in boxes when they themselves can be used for storage.

Don’t Hesitate to Seek Out Help

Moving is a stressful task even when there’s ample time to prepare. When you have almost no time, it can be overwhelming. Following the instructions above can help you stay organized and efficient, but you may need help as the clock runs down. Seeking out friends and family to help pack boxes, clean out cupboards or do a few donation runs can make the entire last-minute move seem more manageable.

If you enlist the help of a moving company, they will help with the heavy lifting and even with marginal packing in some cases. We’re here for you, no matter whether you need a few items stored or a few extra cubic feet of space in which to keep your things.

Katie McCann
By Katie McCann

Katie is the Content Marketing Manager at Bolt, creating resources to help ecommerce businesses of all size thrive. When she's not tracking her online orders right to her doorstep, she's obsessing over her pandemic puppy and learning TikTok dances.