Last-Minute Packing Tips: How to Move in a Hurry

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Moving day preparations can get stressful even when you have a lot of time to prepare everything before the relocation. Moving requires a lot of time, effort, and energy, especially if you are looking for a quick packing and moving experience. Our quick packing tricks for moving will help you keep this process organized, efficient, and streamlined from start to finish – even when you don’t have much time to work with. 

Our last-minute packing tips will cover everything from gathering packing supplies, how and what to pack (and when!), how to use your space efficiently, how to utilize labels to make everything much more organized, and how to handle every type of item you may have in your home. 

We know how stressful moving can get, especially if you don’t have time to “do a little bit of work daily.” So, let’s dive into our last-minute packing checklist! 

Creating a Last-Minute Packing Checklist

A packing checklist will be your best friend, no matter when you are moving. A last-minute packing checklist will ensure nothing is left behind during the move and that everything is accounted for during every process stage. 

There are some essential items that you should pack ON the big day. Yes, the morning of your move! You can do this the night before; however, these essentials are advised to be packed as close to your move as possible. These items will be in your emergency kit; either have them by your side during the move or load them last onto the truck so you can grab them as soon as your movers start unloading. We will get into more detail later in the blog about essential items and which items to pack, but you can get a general idea of what you need immediately upon arrival to your new home and the first night. 

As we’ve mentioned, the second advantage of this last-minute packing checklist is to ensure nothing is left behind. So, as your movers are loading and unloading the truck, you would check items on your list and ensure everything is there and ready to be moved. 

Gathering Packing Supplies

Packing supplies are essential to every moving experience and, unfortunately, an unavoidable purchase. Purchasing packing supplies can be very stressful, especially if you are moving on short notice. You need to have each supply in a specific quantity, not too little or too many, so you don’t waste money. This can be a tricky road to navigate. 

Depending on the size of your home, you can usually estimate roughly how many supplies you will need to pack everything up. For example, here is a table that estimates the amount of supplies based on your home size: (Remember, this is only an estimate!) 

  • Boxes (Small): Ideal for heavy items like books, canned goods, and small appliances.
  • Boxes (Medium): Versatile boxes that can hold kitchenware, toys, and smaller electronics.
  • Boxes (Large): Best for lightweight, bulky items like bedding, pillows, and clothing.
  • Packing Tape Rolls: Each roll is approximately 55 yards, enough to seal multiple boxes.
  • Bubble Wrap Rolls (50 ft): For protecting fragile items such as dishes, glassware, and electronics.
  • Packing Paper Sheets: Used to wrap delicate items and fill empty spaces in boxes to prevent shifting.
  • Furniture Pads: Protect large furniture items from scratches and damage during the move.
  • Dish Pack Boxes: Sturdy boxes with dividers designed specifically for dishes and glassware.

Where to Find Packing Supplies on Short Notice

Local Retail Stores

  1. Grocery Stores: Often have free boxes available, especially if you ask for them in advance.
  2. Home Improvement Stores: Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s typically stock a variety of packing supplies.
  3. Big Box Stores: Walmart, Target, and similar stores usually carry boxes, tape, and other packing materials.
  4. Office Supply Stores: Staples and Office Depot are good places to find boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and packing paper.

Moving and Storage Companies

  1. U-Haul: Offers a wide range of packing supplies and even has a Box Exchange program where people can get or give away used boxes.
  2. Local Moving Companies: Many moving companies sell packing supplies, and some might even deliver them to your doorstep.
  3. Storage Facilities: Places like Public Storage and CubeSmart often sell packing materials.

Online Retailers

  1. Amazon: Offers a vast selection of packing supplies with fast shipping options, including same-day or next-day delivery.
  2. Uline: Specializes in shipping and packing supplies and can deliver quickly.
  3. Walmart and Target: Both offer online ordering with in-store pickup options.

Community Resources

  1. Craigslist: Check the “Free” section or search for moving supplies.
  2. Facebook Marketplace: Local sellers often list moving supplies, and you might find someone giving away free boxes.

Rental Stores

  1. Truck Rental Companies: Companies like Budget Truck Rental and Penske often sell packing supplies and moving kits.

Friends and Family

  1. Ask Around: Friends, family, or neighbors might have leftover boxes and packing materials from their own moves.

Reuse and Repurpose

  1. Use What You Have: Suitcases, laundry baskets, and reusable grocery bags can all be used for packing items.
  2. Recyclable Materials: Use newspapers, old clothes, and towels for wrapping and padding.

Essential Items 

We’ve already discussed the importance of having essential items on hand on the day of the move. However, now we will review these items and how to approach your essential items kit for the moving day.

What are essential items? 

An essential item is one that you use every day, even multiple times a day. Items that accompany that item, like a phone charger, are also essential. These items come from multiple categories, so it is best to review each category and figure out what you will need for the first night in your home and the next morning. No one wants to go shopping immediately after a move. 

Examples of Essential Items For Your Emergency Kit

Personal Items

  • Toiletries:
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Soap and shampoo
    • Deodorant
    • Hairbrush or comb
    • Towels
    • Razor and shaving cream
    • Feminine hygiene products
  • Clothing:
    • Change of clothes for a few days
    • Pajamas
    • Comfortable shoes
    • Extra socks and underwear
  • Medications:
    • Prescription medications
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers
    • Allergy medications
    • First aid kit

Important Documents

  • Identification:
    • Driver’s license
    • Passport
  • Moving Documents:
    • Moving company contract
    • Lease or purchase agreement
    • Insurance documents
    • Car registration and insurance
    • Birth certificates
    • Medical records

Financial Items

  • Cash and Credit Cards
  • Checkbook


  • Cell Phone and Charger
  • Laptop and Charger
  • Power Strips and Extension Cords

Basic Tools

  • Multi-tool or Pocket Knife
  • Screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips)
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Tape Measure

Kitchen Essentials

  • Paper Plates and Plastic Utensils
  • Cups and Mugs
  • Non-perishable Snacks
  • Bottled Water
  • Coffee Maker and Supplies

Cleaning Supplies

  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Sponges and Rags
  • Trash Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • Broom and Dustpan

Bedding and Comfort Items

  • Bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets)
  • Air Mattress or Sleeping Bags
  • Nightlight


  • Scissors
  • Packing Tape
  • Notepad and Pen
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Pet Supplies (food, leash, water dish, litter)
  • Children’s Items (toys, books, favorite blanket)

Go over this list, determine YOUR essential items, and pack them into a separate suitcase, box, or container to easily access during every part of the move. It is best to either have the box with you during transport or to load it last onto the truck so you can grab it as soon as the unloading process starts at your new home. 

Packing Fragile Items 

Fragile items usually require more attention during packing, and knowing how to approach this process can help you in the long run. No one wants to break half of their inventory during a move, so you need to learn some fragile item packing techniques before you start tackling grandma’s china. 

Common Cushioning Materials

  • Bubble Wrap:

Provides excellent protection for glassware, ceramics, and other breakables.

Use large bubble wrap for heavier items and smaller bubbles for lighter, delicate items.

  • Packing Paper:

Ideal for wrapping fragile items and filling empty spaces in boxes.

Use plain, unprinted paper to avoid ink transfer.

  • Foam Peanuts:

Lightweight and effective for filling gaps and cushioning items.

Ensure they are evenly distributed to avoid settling during transport.

  • Foam Sheets:

Thin, flexible sheets that provide padding between items.

Great for protecting furniture and electronics.

  • Corrugated Inserts:

Cardboard dividers that provide extra protection and organization within boxes.

Useful for packing bottles, glasses, and dishware.

Alternative Cushioning Materials

  • Towels and Linens:

Use bath towels, hand towels, and linens to wrap and cushion items.

Great for filling spaces in boxes and providing padding for more oversized items.

  • Clothing:

Soft clothing such as t-shirts, sweaters, and socks can be used to wrap fragile items.

Provides dual-purpose packing and cushioning.

  • Blankets and Comforters:

Thick blankets and comforters can wrap and protect more oversized items like mirrors and framed pictures.

Provides substantial padding for heavy or bulky items.

  • Newspapers:

Crumpled newspapers can fill empty spaces and provide a cushioning layer.

Be cautious of ink transfer; use on items that can be easily cleaned.

Specialty Cushioning Materials

  • Dish Pack Kits:

Pre-packaged kits with foam pouches, dividers, and specialized boxes for dishes and glassware.

Offers maximum protection for kitchen items.

  • Pillowcases and Scarves:

Soft, flexible materials that can be wrapped around delicate items.

Ideal for adding a protective layer to small, fragile pieces.

  • Plastic Wrap:

Use plastic wrap to secure moving parts and provide a tight layer of protection.

Prevents items from shifting and keeps protective materials in place.

Packing Techniques for Cushioning

  1. Double Boxing:

Place fragile items in a smaller box cushioned with packing materials, then place that box inside a larger box with additional cushioning.

Provides extra layers of protection.

  1. Layering:

Layer the bottom of the box with cushioning materials before placing items inside.

Add additional layers between items and on top to ensure complete coverage.

  1. Wrapping Items Individually:

Wrap each fragile item separately to prevent them from knocking into each other.

Secure with tape if necessary to keep the wrapping in place.

  1. Filling Empty Spaces:

Fill any empty spaces in the box with cushioning materials to prevent items from shifting.

Use packing peanuts, crumpled paper, or soft clothing for this purpose.

  1. Labeling:

Label boxes containing fragile items with “Fragile” and “Handle with Care” stickers.

Mark the top of the box to ensure proper handling.

Labeling Boxes Clearly

Labeling your boxes will result in you thanking yourself during unloading and unpacking, ten out of ten times. Clear and detailed labeling will help you know exactly what is in every box, where it needs to be put, and how carefully it should be handled. It’s like a cheat sheet for your belongings. So, use colors, markers, numbers, lists – anything you can think of an go into as much detail with your boxes as possible. 

Make sure to label:

  • The contents of each box. Make a brief list of the contents you’ve packed in your boxes so you know exactly where to look when trying to find a specific item. 
  • Fragile items. Your movers must know which boxes contain fragile items and breakables so they know which techniques to apply when handling them. 
  • Where the box belongs. If you mark the room for each box, your movers will have a much easier time placing the boxes in their corresponding locations. You can even go further, and color code your boxes based on the room and color code your doors at the destination for even quicker unloading. 

Handling Electronics and Cables

For this step of the process, it would be best to whip out the original boxes of all electronics you own because, well, you were probably keeping them for this reason. If you’re not an “original box keeper” type, you’ll need to repurchase them for your move. It’s not a crucial part of your move, but you will be much less stressed knowing that your electronics are packed safely. 

Purchasing original boxes for your appliances and cushioning them will ensure a smooth transition with no unpleasant surprises. Your movers may also be able to provide you with boxes for your electronics, so make sure to ask! 

What to do with the cables and accessories you may ask? 

We take photos for easy set up at our new home! Instead of remembering what goes where and how just take a photo before unhooking everything from your electronics. 

Keep cables and accessories for each electronic together, and pack them all in a designated box. Make sure not to lose any parts during the process. Bundling cables and accessories together and taking visuals will create the most straightforward setup at your new home. 

Get in Touch With A#1 Movers for Your Last-Minute Move

If you are scrambling to prepare your last-minute move and need a helping hand, feel free to reach out! A#1 Movers is here to help with all of your emergency moving needs and simplify your moving chaos. Let’s work together to create the best last-minute moving experience that is seamless and easy. Most importantly, we guarantee peace of mind no matter how complicated your moving conditions may be! Let’s start planning your move today!

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