top of page
  • Writer's pictureCathy Hertler

Stellar Ideas for a Low-Stress Move

Moving would be a lot easier if we could just beam ourselves where we want to be like in “Star Trek”. Unfortunately, we’re well into the 21st century, and there seems to be no progress on the transporter beam, so we’re left to our own devices to get from one place to another. For the foreseeable future, moving will involve boxes, tape, more boxes, bubble wrap, even more boxes, a Sharpie that you’ll misplace a dozen times, and … you guessed it … more boxes.

But moving is also a fresh start, and if you approach the process with a positive mindset, a detailed plan of attack, and a relaxed attitude toward box acquisition, you can pull off a move with the cool demeanor of Captain Picard and the sassy attitude of Captain Kirk. Here are a few out-of-this-world ideas to get you started.

Start early.

Begin packing as soon as you know your moving date. You’ll be able to take your time and be more thoughtful about what to take, toss, or donate. For example, you don’t have to wait to pack out-of-season clothing, and holiday decorations that won’t be needed for six months can be boxed up before you tackle the rest of the garage.

Purge what you don’t need.

No one has ever walked into a new home and thought, “This place could really use some old takeout menus and a string of Christmas lights that’s been tangled since the 90s.” As you empty cabinets and closets, toss anything broken or unusable and make a donation pile for things you rarely use, clothes that don’t fit, items you have too many of, or things you won’t need at your new place. (You likely won’t need that tundra-rated parka in Phoenix, and a lawnmower won’t get much use in a top-floor condo.)

Donate responsibly.

When you shop in a thrift store, you want bargains, not junk. When deciding what to donate, think like a shopper or someone served by the charity. And before you make a drop-off, check websites of local charities and thrift stores to see what they can and cannot take.

Choose the right mover.

If you are going to hire a moving company, start by checking customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Google. Once you find a reputable mover, check the company’s insurance and license. All interstate movers, as well as in-state movers in 38 states, are required to have a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, which you can look up on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) website. Check the company’s record for complaints, crashes, and safety.

Pack your rooms Strategically.

Start with your least-used rooms (typically basements, attics, and garages) and work your way toward frequently used rooms. Use the same strategy for packing within each room. Out-of season clothes and the roasting pan you use once a year can be packed early, but your favorite pajamas and everyday cutlery should be packed last.

Don’t rely on your memory.

Inevitably, when it’s time to unpack, someone will urgently need an item they didn’t think to keep handy. Number boxes as you pack and create a spreadsheet that lists contents of each box. This will make it easier to plan your unpacking and check for missing boxes. If spreadsheets aren’t your thing, take pictures of open boxes before you seal them to track what’s in each box.

Save the weight training for the gym.

It’s tempting to try to speed the process by throwing all the contents of a cupboard into one box, but eventually you’re going to have to lift that box. Additionally, a cardboard box isn’t designed to stand up to a set of barbells or your extensive collection of bowling balls. Respect your lower back and the limits of cardboard. Don’t pack a box you can’t lift comfortably, and watch for bulges, gaping seams, or other indications of an overloaded box.

Make your move picture perfect.

Take photos or video as you’re disassembling items so you can figure out how to reassemble them. If you’re using a mover, also take pictures of furniture and belongings that are being transported in case anything is damaged or lost in transit.

Be first-night ready.

Pack a suitcase and a bag of household essentials so you don’t have to worry about picking through boxes the first night. Be sure to pack enough for several days in case there are moving delays. Things you’ll need:

  • Toilet paper and hand soap

  • Toiletries and medications

  • Several days’ worth of clothes

  • Pet food and toys

  • Baby items as needed (diapers, wipes, food, etc.)

  • Tools for assembling furniture

  • Items to help with unpacking (box cutter, trash bags, paper towels)

  • Something easy for breakfast like instant coffee and granola bars

  • A towel for each person (and maybe some bubble bath for a relaxing post-move soak)

Keep the irreplaceable things close.

Some items shouldn’t leave your possession, so make room for them in your suitcase or car. These include:

  • Important papers (birth certificates, wills, medical records)

  • Valuables (jewelry, heirlooms)

  • Laptops

  • Photo albums

Know what’s a no-no.

Make sure you know what your movers CAN’T or WON’T transport. Federal rules prohibit transport of certain hazardous items, and your mover may have additional restrictions on everything from perishable foods to house plants. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  • Flammables, such as lighter fluid, oils, and matches

  • Fire extinguishers

  • Car batteries

  • Aerosol cans

  • Pool chemicals

  • Pesticides and insecticides

  • Fertilizer and weed killer

  • Ammonia, liquid bleach, and other cleaning solvents

  • Nail polish and nail polish remover

Special Cargo.

Babies and pets need special handling. Both will need appropriate food and toys to stay happy amongst the chaos, and both will need a place to sleep on their first night in their new home. Pack accordingly, and reach out to your pediatrician or veterinarian if you have any concerns about how to ease the transition.


In the end, moving isn’t rocket science. With the right planning and a calm approach, you’ll be ready to boldly go where you haven’t been before.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page