Pack Up & Pack Out

Katy Daniels

As my family moved for the third time during this pandemic, I was again faced with another pack up & pack out. As a military family, we are used to this frequent adventure. The occupational hazard of accepting that not ALL your things will make it through the next move. Or, not all your things will fit in the next house. Organization and constantly refreshing is the best way to be prepared for a move, planned or sometimes unplanned.

With most military moves, hired movers will come into your house, pack your things and load them up to ship to your next home. Sometimes (like this time for us) you can do a good old fashioned DIY move. This is for you DIYers.

First, supplies. You can never have enough paper, plastic wrap, tape or boxes for a move. But if you can get away with using as little as possible, do it. But, for fear of contradicting myself, DON’T CUT CORNERS. One year my husband and I moved ourselves from the south to the north by renting a Uhaul, asking friends, and shoving anything and everything we could in said Uhaul as securely as possible. Let’s just say we had some things that were broken and others, just lost.

We learned what not to do. After a few more moves, with professional packers and movers, we gained a lot more knowledge on the best practices for moving. Each piece may have specific needs, which means, specific supplies. Aside from those specifics, this is what we’ve used (And links to get them).

So Obviously the first step should always be to organize and refresh what you have. Don’t move anything you don’t want. Assuming you’ve already done this (check out the last blog if you need tips), it’s time to start packing!

When professional packers came into our home they packed up each room. We did the same this time while moving ourselves. Think of it this way; your kitchen items will still need to be in the next kitchen you move to. Same with bedrooms. The best tip is to label your boxes, nothing is worse than having to re-move all your boxes around inside your house because you don’t have them in the right room. Trust me, this will happen anyway, but labeling will be a HUGE time saver. Check out C.C. Gallagher for the BEST moving kit for organizing and labeling EVERYTHING.

It’s the decor or multipurpose items that complicate this tactic. If you can’t get into your new space to figure out where you want those then just pack them in “miscellaneous” boxes. But if you are like me, and know (even a general area) where that painting will hang, or that you want family photos in your living room, go ahead and pack it with that room.

Anything with a corner needs padding...somehow. Those tables? Wrap them in a moving blanket. That shelf? Wrap it. The couch? Probably wrap it. I alternated between plastic wrap and old blankets. Framed artwork, photos, educational degrees, posters, etc? These are more specific and will be discussed in a bit, just be aware, at a minimum you’ll need to take some cardboard and wrap the corners.

Breakables need to be wrapped. A professional mover once told me, “When in doubt, just wrap it.” It’s true. That vase could probably handle a move, but wrapped in packing paper it’s chance of survival increases exponentially. With breakables like cups and plates, make sure you cover all of it. Stuff some paper inside, around, through. Cover. It.


Art needs to be taken care of in a specific way. As an artist, art educator, and art collector I can tell you that not all art can be packaged the same way. Use these guidelines to judge how your own personal work needs to be handled.

  1. A canvas with acrylic paint needs to be wrapped but first covered with glassine, acid-free or archival paper. Most packing paper is acid-free so there is no need to go out and get more of what you already have. Place the paper over the painted surface then tape the corners lightly like you are partially wrapping a present.

  2. Next tape cardboard to the back of the canvas. It’s also good to take some packing paper and loosely fill the space between the canvas and the cardboard so there's a less chance of puncture.

  3. After all of that then you tape it & wrap it with plastic wrap or packing paper.

With framed art or art with glass you have different steps.

  1. First take your artist's tape and make an X on the glass. This will prevent the glass from breaking during a move.

  2. Then take cardboard sheets and sandwich the framed art between the two pieces.

  3. Then, you guessed it, wrap it! This UPack has a great breakdown of what you need for each item and steps to pack them.

With 3D art, treat it like fine china. Bubble wrap is almost always my go to.

  • If there is paint on it, then first wrap it with packing paper, then packing tape to keep the paper covering your art but not attached.

  • If you can, also use boxes. If it’s small put it in a shoe box then fill that box with packing paper. 3D art needs it’s space. Honestly, if you can fit as much as you have in a box, it makes the actual moving process so much easier because you are just stacking boxes vs. playing Tetris with your home goods.

I know, it’s a lot of work. A lot of wrapping, a lot of boxing. But trust me, it’s worth it. It helps your items travel well, move better, and last longer. Take your time and do a little each day. With our most recent move, I tried to do just a few boxes a day. It ended up being the least stressful move we’ve had so far. Here’s to coming home.

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