Back to School or Across the County: Moving Hacks for Every Tumbleweed Chaser
I don’t think I was prepared for the number of times I was called Dorothy when I moved from Florida to Kansas the first time before my husband and I got married. If you want to be funny and original, quote one of the only mentions of Kansas in pop culture when I tell you I’m moving there! But really don’t. Because I was so over it that moving week. So. Over. It. I don’t think it was really the Wizard of Oz jokes that set me over the edge. I mean, I love the Wizard of Oz. I think it was just that I was already super cranky from all of the packing and moving. If you have ever moved, you know what I’m talking about. You begin to empathize with Sisyphus. And you get cranky.
However, thanks to the almighty Pinterest and my experience moving back and forth from Tallahassee to Tampa every year while I was attending FSU, I learned a thing or two about Tetris packing. So for all of you going back to or starting college (how I envy you) or just looking to start new adventures somewhere else, I have compiled the most helpful tricks for moving I have either invented over the years because of college/a year in the life of a military spouse or learned from friends (AKA Pinterest).
- Never leave empty space: I’m not talking about blocking the rear window of your car. That’s not safe so don’t do that. I’m saying if you are packing a crock pot, a toaster oven, a microwave, or anything of the like with empty space inside, fill it. I don’t recommend filling your toaster with anything fragile (yes mine fell over in the back seat and sent a few baking dishes I had stacked together inside flying across my car) but at least stick some dish towels, sponges, silverware, etc. in there. I filled my crock pot with zip lock baggies full of all of my spices so a. I didn’t have to worry about them spilling in some random box and b. so I didn’t waste that perfectly good space. I’m working with a Corolla here so it’s all valuable real estate.
- Wrap fragile things in t shirts and towels: don’t go buy packing paper to wrap fragile goods in. You already have all of the stuff you need to keep it safe and you’re packing it anyway! I used almost a whole large garbage bag full of t shirts just to wrap my plates, mugs, and some fragile decorations in. Yes I had a whole garbage bag full of t shirts because that’s what college does to you. But anyway it saved me room, money, and all my fragile things survived.
- Leave hanging clothes like dresses or coats on the hangers and put a garbage bag over it so you can lay it flat over other boxes and things in the car. I tried this for the first time on my first trip to Kansas and I was really pleased. Nothing was wrinkled or damaged and all I had to do was carry the bundle upstairs, hang it up, and take off the garbage bag and I was done. Win.
- Pack the equivalent of a carryon bag that is not buried under all of your other packed things. I kept this in the passenger seat next to me so I knew it would stay safe and unburied. There is stuff you’re going to want in the middle of your move ESPECIALLY if you are driving and EPSECIALLY ESPECIALLY if you are driving more than one day. In this bag, personally, I had packed my puppy’s food and medication to help his upset tummy, food and water bowls, any medication I might have needed like ibuprofen, snacks, a sweater, change of clothes, cash, phone chargers, a refillable water bottle, and basic toiletries I’d need to spend the night somewhere…like the random Illinois motel I ended up crashing in…yeah. My move this time around is sure to be much better as I am choosing to forego the sketchy motels in favor of campsites and make an adventure out of this move.
- If you’re moving with a pet, stop at least every four hours to let them out. This was recommended to me by my veterinarian before I left Florida. Most of the rest stops I encountered were pet friendly and had little areas where you could walk dogs. Your pets are just as sick of moving as you are. I know I had Chewy buried under all my crap in the back seat and had to stop every so often to let him stretch, go to the bathroom, and do his puppy stuff. I would usually give him a finger full of peanut butter for solidarity whenever we stopped. Poor guy. On a side note, a great app to find rest stops along your route is the USA Rest Stop Locator app. It tells you information like how far away the next rest stop is or what the hours of certain rest stops are. And it’s free.
- Be safe and make sure someone knows where you are on your journey. When you stop, call and check in with someone. They will be able to act as a completely fair and unbiased third party opinion to tell you when you sound tired and need to take a break from driving. It’s important that you don’t just drive miles and miles without letting someone know where you are. What if you have car trouble or get lost? An app that I recommend for this purpose is Glympse. My dad and I both downloaded the app and, once you turn on the GPS feature of your smart phone, you can send whoever has the app downloaded a “glympse” of your location. They can track your location from anywhere between 30 minutes to 4 hours. You set the time when you send them your location and you control who can see where you are. Personally, I felt a lot safer knowing that someone knew where I was when I was so far from home.
- Lift with your legs, not with your back. Everyone says it. Just do it.
- Chew gum or eat crunchy snacks to keep you alert when driving long distances. I went through like 27 packs of gum on my way to Kansas.
- When you arrive at your final destination and it is time to unpack, it is much easier to bring up items from a heavy box separately than trying to lug up the whole heavy box. It takes more time but it is so worth it. The stuff has to come out of the boxes anyway.
- I packed all of my things in large plastic Tupperware type boxes. You know the ones. I especially recommend this for college students. You buy 5 or 6 of the big plastic boxes with the snap on lids before freshman year and you use them every move, freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year, and you have a place to store stuff once you get to college. I like not having to worry that one of my boxes will bottom out because it’s too heavy or get wet and be useless. They cost more than your cardboard boxes but you get way more out of them even if you just use a couple of them to supplement your cardboard boxes. For my second move to Kansas, we left all of our stuff in storage while I lived in Florida during deployment and used all of these large Tupperware boxes I have accumulated over the years for that and now they just store extra books and Christmas decorations now that most of our stuff is out of storage.
- Pack the really heavy stuff in a rolling suitcase. I majored in literature. I have lots of books and I love them all. If I packed all of my books in a box, I would not be able to lift it. I definitely stole this idea from Pinterest. It made life so much better and all of my babies books were safe.
- If you’re going to a new destination like Kansas and not back to college or somewhere familiar, print out directions before you go in case your phone dies or your GPS is lagging or whatever. Technology is finicky and can’t always be trusted especially when you’re driving through (to? Lol) the middle of nowhere to the Midwest.
- Put the heaviest things on the floor of your car or the back of the moving truck. That is where they go.
- Put paper plates between your glass plates to keep them from shattering against each other.
- If you are using a GPS app to get where you’re going, I recommend Waze. It tells you where the speed traps are pretty accurately. Not that you should be speeding…
- Take pictures on your phone of the contents of each box so if there is something you really need when you get to your new place, you know exactly which box it’s in and don’t have to throw the contents of every box all over the place.
- If you have a lot of boxes, you can use pieces of colored tape to mark which room the boxes go in. Another use for colored tape is to use red tape on all of your boxes that contain fragile items so you know where it’s best to pack those when you’re loading everything up.
- When you get to your new home, if you have people coming to deliver furniture or if you have anyone coming into your place you don’t know when you’re alone, tell someone before it happens so they can check in on you in 15 minutes or whatever you decide. I ordered a mattress once I got to Kansas and let my mom know before the delivery guys came when they were expected to arrive and when I expected them to leave. They were really cool guys though. Just, you know, safety first.
Have any other awesome moving ideas or experiences?