1. Use the right size boxes
When you pack books for moving, pack them or other heavy items in small boxes; light items, like linens and pillows, can be packed in bigger ones. (Large boxes packed with heavy items are a common complaint of professional movers. They not only make the job harder but also have a better chance of breaking.)
2. Put heavier items on the bottoms of boxes, lighter items on top
And if you're loading the truck yourself, pack your heaviest boxes first, toward the front of the truck, for balance.
3. Don't leave empty spaces in the boxes
Fill in gaps with clothing, towels, or packing paper. Movers often won't move boxes that feel loosely packed or unbalanced.
4. Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box.
It will make your packing quicker and your unpacking a lot easier, too.
5. Label each box with the room it's destined for and a description of its contents
This will help you and your movers know where every box belongs in your new place. Numbering each box and keeping an inventory list in a small notebook is a good way to keep track of what you've packed―and to make sure you still have everything when you unpack.
6. Tape your moving boxes well
Use a couple of pieces of tape to close the bottom and top seams, then use one of the movers' techniques―making a couple of wraps all the way around the box's top and bottom edges, where stress is concentrated.
7. If you're moving expensive art, ask your mover about special crating
Understand exactly how to pack artwork for moving to help keep it safe. You should never wrap oil paintings in regular paper; it will stick. When you pack pictures for moving, make an X with masking tape across the glass to strengthen it and to hold it together if it shatters. Then wrap the pictures in paper or bubble wrap and put them in a frame box, with a piece of cardboard between each framed piece for protection.
8. Take special care packing the kitchen for moving
Packing the kitchen involves a lot of different types of items. Learn how pack dishes for moving: Put packing paper around each dish, then wrap bundles of five or six together with more paper. Pack dishes on their sides, never flat. And use plenty of bunched-up paper as padding above and below. Cups and bowls can be packed inside one another, with paper in between, and wrapped three or four in a bundle. Pack them all in dish-barrel boxes.
When you pack glasses for moving, use a box with cardboard dividers to help protect the glasses, and wrap them in plenty of layers of paper to protect them.
9. Get your wardrobe in order
There are a few different options to pack clothes for moving—you can pack folded clothes in cardboard boxes, suitcases, or even leave them in the dresser (if it doesn't make the dresser too heavy to move!). For hanging clothes, use a special wardrobe box, so you can hang your clothes right in it. (Bonus: you won't have to worry about figuring out how to pack your hangers for moving!)
You need to protect your shoes from each other when you pack shoes for moving. Wrap shoes individually to keep sharp heels or buckles from damaging other shoes, and to keep dirt from one pair of shoes from messing up the rest of your shoes. You can pack socks into shoes to help them hold their shape.
When you pack jewelry, you can recycle some items to help you—you can string necklaces through straws or toilet paper rolls to keep them from being tangled.
10. Learn how to pack a TV for moving
Some movers treat TVs like any other piece of furniture, wrapping them in quilted furniture pads. Plasma TVs, though, require special wooden crates for shipping if you don't have the original box and can be ruined if you lay them flat. If you're packing yourself, double-box your TV, setting the box containing the TV into another box that you've padded with packing paper.