No matter the reason for a move, packing is always involved. If you’ve never moved before it can be daunting and unnerving. If you’re a seasoned mover, you’ve likely picked up some hacks to make life easier. Here are three pro tips to make packing easier and may help with unpacking too.

Tip #1 Labeling and Journaling

Organizing your boxes by labeling and journaling will help you track how many boxes you have and where things are packed. When packing a room, label the box with the room’s name or nickname – Dining, Kitchen, Bm (Basement), Bath-M (Master Bathroom), etc. Then, each box is also numbered and logged in the journal (or in your phone notes). If there are specific items you know you’ll want to get to before others, note them in your journal as you pack them. For example, “Kitchen2 – utensils and pan” and so forth. An extra few seconds in journaling will save you headaches and frustration in finding the things you need when you need them.

Tip #2 Affordable Packing

If you’d like to save money on the cost of your move, here are three ways to save money:

Boxes and containers are always needed for packing, and generally, you’ll need more than you expect. Stop by your local grocer or big-box store and ask customer service if you can get some free boxes for moving. Grocers often provide banana boxes, which are perfect for small appliances or books. Big box stores will likely give you random-sized boxes useful for a variety of items. If you want new boxes, order them through Amazon or buy them at a big box store rather than from the truck rental or storage rental office.

Use towels for packing dishes rather than expensive bubble wrap, especially for same-city or short-distance moves. Use sheets and pillowcases as fillers for bedroom-related packing. You can use puffy coats or thick blankets for bedroom breakables.

Reduce, donate, recycle. As you’re packing, be mindful of items you no longer use and things you likely won’t use in your new home. Put them in a pile of donating or recycling. After all, those snow boots you haven’t worn in two years won’t be helpful in southern Arizona.

Tip #3 Packing Boxes Properly

Whether moving on your own or hiring a professional moving company, it’s crucial to pack boxes properly. This way, you will avoid any accidentally broken items and save time, money, and space. Let’s take a closer look at how to pack a box properly.

First, use the correct size box. Smaller boxes for heavier items and books, medium boxes for dishes and Nik-knacks, and larger boxes for larger single items or pillows and blankets. Be sure to even-load the box, with the heaviest items on the bottom and lighter items on the top, and side to side balancing of weight. Then, before closing the box, be sure it’s filled to the top with packing – whether you use packing paper, newspaper, or towels. Last, tape the box shut to ensure nothing ‘escapes’ on its way to the new location and if you have twine, stick a 6-inch length under one end of the tape to easily open boxes later.