After 7 moves in 11 years, you learn things that help, such as:
1. The boxes that paper cases are shipped in are the perfect moving tool. They are easy to carry (most letter sized boxes even have handles,) sturdy, they come with their own lids, the lids stay on so there is no need to tape them (which also means you can check contents without a box cutter,) and you can't really fill them so full that they are too heavy to lift. Also, you can get them free from a lot of copy shops and office supply stores. The best part is that they are strong enough to stack high without crushing, and they are a uniform size and shape so you can put more of them in a truck or storage area without wasting space.
2. Newsprint is a really good packing material, but don't spend money on "packing paper." If you know ahead of time that you will be moving, you can keep and collect it without spending too much money. Even your junk mail will work. If you are in a pinch, you can buy a few double packs of the Sunday paper and it will still be cheaper than a pack of paper from a moving store.
3. Make sure to wash your hands before touching your face after using newsprint or you will look like a mechanic or a raccoon.
4. Instead of bubble wrap for the really delicate stuff, use the blankets, sheets, and towels from the linen closet. A double advantage? When you use them to wrap dishes or nic nacs you don't have to waste space packing them in something else.
5. Don't move anything you don't have to. If it doesn't make you happy to look at it or you don't have a good place to put it, don't bring it with you. Donate it, sell it, gift it, but don't pack it.
6. If at all possible, do the "donate, sell, gift" thing before you actually have to move. Packing is a lot faster if you aren't decluttering and dejunking at the same time.
7. Plan your work and work your plan. If you don't have the luxury of professional movers, make sure that you know ahead of time what will be packed when and how. Otherwise, you will run out of time, space, or both.
8. Whatever is the first in will be the last out. If you think you will need it as soon as you are moved, wait until the last minute to pack it. This is important for things like toilet paper, bar soap, hand towels, liquor, and chocolate.
9. No matter how positive the move is, it still sucks. Your husband, your wife, your kids, and even your pets will be stressed out so give them a little slack, and try to keep normal routines in place whenever possible.
10. Check every closet before you start packing. Then, check them again as you are packing, Then, check them ALL again before you leave.
11. Don't pack anything but trash in black trash bags. It seems like a good idea at the time to protect your silk duvet cover by wrapping it in plastic, and sure, a trash bag is cheap and easy to tie up. You will not think this is so good an idea when your silk duvet cover is on the curb of your old house, in the rain, being picked up by the trash men, and you have no bed spread in your new house.
12. Beer and pizza will bring all the boys to your yard (to help you move) quicker than your milkshake will.
13. A dolly is a tool that you pile boxes on to prevent your back from being broken. A furniture dolly is a low, flat, tool with wheels that you use to sit on and ride down your drive way (after the beer and pizza have been consumed.)
14. Laundry is one thing that can not be neglected. I am moving with exactly ONE small basket of dirty laundry. It is a true triumph for me. I once moved with THIRTY-FIVE loads of dirty laundry. Don't even ask why we even had that much laundry, let alone why all of it was dirty. Just trust me. It wasn't a pretty site.
15. Pack up your "good" dishes, glasses, and silverware as early as you can. Either use disposables or have a special set of lite plastic ware that you can throw in a box on the last day. Personally, recommend disposables, in spite of my treehugger tendencies. Washing dishes after every meal while trying to pack up is just a pain in the butt.
16. Sleep in your own bed as long as you possibly can.
17, Always leave more time than you think you will need to do anything - packing, cleaning, driving, whatever. When it comes down to the time when you have to turn the keys in, there will still be something you forgot to pack, and area you forgot to clean, or a closet you left something in.
18. Did I mention to check all the closets before you leave?
19. Try and stick with only one type of cleanser for the final clean before you go. There are several cleaners out there that multi-task as kitchen/bathroom/tile/carpet/glass cleaners. Pick one and stick with it. On one hand, you won't be carrying several buckets of cleaning supplies with you as you leave. On the other, you will avoid the dangerous mixing of chemicals in the last few hectic hours.
20. The newspapers left over from packing are awesome for cleaning, too. They won't leave streaks on windows and mirrors, either.
21. Clean out under your bed BEFORE you have people help you move. You really don't want your father-in-law to be surprised by ... whatever you forgot you had under there.
That's all for tonight, folks!