A few weeks before you move, start saving your newspapers, and stock up on strong cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes. When you put the boxes together, tape across the base with a double strip of good quality packing tape. This is not the time to save money on cheap boxes and discount tape, you want to protect your belongings.
Sort out the essentials
Start by packing a suitcase with enough clean clothes to last a few days, and add must-haves like toiletries, toothbrush, medicine, hairdryer, jewellery, laptop and your phone charger. Pop any valuables in this suitcase, too.
Avoid first night stress
Buy a large clear plastic box and pack it with kitchen essentials – tea towels, scissors, sticky tape, kettle, tea-bags, a few mugs, washing-up liquid, toilet roll, tin opener, corkscrew and a screwdriver. Even better, keep your whole toolbox handy.
Put light things in big boxes and heavy things in small boxes. Then label your boxes in two ways: mark which room they’re going to, and list what’s in the box. Put labels on two sides (rather than the top) so that you can see them. You could even use a different-coloured label or pen per room.
Keep track of what you have
Number the boxes and keep a record of what’s in each numbered box – that way, you’ll know how many boxes you’re supposed to have at the other end and which ones, if any, have gone missing.
Clearly mark the boxes that contain fragile stuff, and fill them carefully. Pack plates on their sides like vinyl records, and put a towel or some bubble wrap in the bottom first. Nest bowls two or three at a time, with a layer of paper between each bowl, then pack them on their rims. Wrap cups and glassware in a double layer of paper and pack them on their rims, too.
Keep a roll of small plastic bags handy for bolts and screws. When you take a piece of furniture apart, put all the screws into a bag and tape it to the furniture. Photograph the back of your TV so you know how to wire it all up again, and tape your power leads to the relevant bit of kit. Otherwise, they’ll almost certainly get mixed up.
Save packing space
Use your suitcases and bags to carry smaller things and vacuum-seal spare duvets and pillows, as well as clothes you’re not likely to need for a few weeks (or even months).
If the drawers in your clothes cabinets pull out completely, leave the contents in place. And if you can afford to, invest in wardrobe cartons – that way, it’s quick and easy to empty your wardrobe without taking everything off the hangers.
Don’t forget the fiddly stuff
Roll up rugs and fasten with three strips of strong packing tape. Protect light-coloured items from dust and dirt by totally covering them with industrial stretch wrap. If you’re packing away lamps, take the bulbs out first and mark which lamp each one came from. Pack your jewellery in egg cartons to stop it getting tangled, or sandwich it between two layers of cling film, then roll it up. Easy!