How to Pack for a Last-Minute Move Without Losing Your Mind


Sometimes, you don’t have months to prepare for a big move. Sometimes, all you may have is a week, a few days, or – heaven help you – a weekend.

What should you do when you have to get your entire life’s worth of possessions together, organized, and ready to load into a truck, fast?

First, don’t panic. Second, follow these steps and save your sanity. (Take deep breaths. Everything is going to be fine.)

How to Pack for a Last-Minute Move Really, Really Quickly

You can do this.

1. Make a List

This is a huge job, and there’s no way you can do it efficiently without some organization.

To get it done right, sit down and make a master list for your move. The list should include a.) everything you need to pack, b.) everything you need for packing supplies, and c.) the room order you’ll move through (for example, living room first, then bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen last).

2. Purge, Purge, Purge

Packing and moving are always easier when you have less stuff to worry about. Before you start packing, grab some garbage bags and do a sweep through your living space. Purge stuff into categories: stuff you can throw away and stuff you can recycle/donate.

What to throw away: broken toys, expired food and medication, torn-up shoes and paint-splattered clothes, and documents you no longer need to keep.

What to donate/recycle: old magazines, books you’ll never read again, clothes you never wear, duplicates of kitchen utensils (spoons, measuring cups, whisks, etc.), that vase you got for Christmas five years ago and have always hated, and other odds and ends you won’t miss.

3. Make Sure You Have Enough Moving Supplies

There’s no time to make multiple runs to the store if you run out of moving boxes, packing material, or packing tape. Stock up before you put anything at all into boxes. Err on the side of buying too much, as most specialty box stores will allow you to return any of your unused boxes and get your money back.

4. Go Room-by-Room and Label Everything

Now that the prep work is done, the actual packing can begin. Move through your home room-by-room. Don’t move on to the next space until the room you’re packing is complete. Leave out essential items (your toothbrush, pajamas, and shampoo, for instance) and pack them last in their own box.

As you pack, number each box. On a separate paper, write down the box number and its corresponding contents. This will save you millions of headaches when you’re finally unpacking in your new place.

How to Pack Quickly for a Move? Strategize

Packing in lightning fashion for an impending last-minute move is totally do-able. All you need is a strategy and the right attitude. So, go on. Roll up those sleeves and get at it.