Pack Like a Pro: Part 1

Handled Moving Guide: A curated and annotated list of expert-approved supplies.


Having the right supplies on hand means you’re prepared for an organized and efficient pack. Boxes and tape are a good start, but there are some specialized items that the pros use to make packing a breeze. In the article below, we’ll explore options and provide recommendations to get you started.

Cardboard Boxes

These are tried-and true moving staples. They’re light, pack flat, and their corrugated design means they’re surprisingly strong. But all boxes aren’t created equal: opt for a thick-walled, heavy duty box for maximum protection. Best of all, boxes come in nearly every imaginable size and shape:

  • Small Box: Pack small, heavy items like books and tools.
  • Medium Box: Use this all-purpose workhorse by default for most things.
  • Large Box: Pack light, bulky items like pillows, blankets, and lampshades.
  • Wardrobe Box: Transport clothing on hangers in this box with a built-in hanging rod.
  • Dishpack Box: This box comes pre-divided into slots for cups and plates.
  • Mirror and Picture Box: Packing large, flat items? There’s a box for that.
  • Multi-Depth Boxes: These boxes are adjustable to accommodate multiple sizes.

As you can see, there are plenty of box options for a range of organizational styles. If you’d like to purchase a complete kit, some retailers sell packs designed for a typical studio, 1 bedroom, or 2 bedroom home.

Plastic Bins

Plastic bins or tubs are sturdy, stackable, waterproof, and mold-resistant. They’re more expensive than cardboard boxes, but they’re ideal for items that will be stored in basements or garages. Consider plastic bins for photos, mementos, holiday decorations, and other items that are used occasionally.


Packing material is designed to wrap items to protect them from scratches or breakage and fill voids in boxes.

  • Packing Paper: Cost-effective and plant-based, paper protects small and light items.
  • Bubble Wrap: Reusable and recyclable, plastic bubble wrap cushions fragile items.
  • Foam Sheets: Sheets, rolls, or pouches are perfect for stacking dishes; look for biodegradable ones.
  • Foam Corners: A set of four styrofoam corners protect mirrors and artwork.
  • Stretch Wrap: Wrap loose items like kitchen utensils into a secure bundle or provide furniture with an outer layer of protection.


The tape aisle at the home store is so large for a reason—each type is designed for a unique purpose. These are the essential tapes for every move:

  • Painters/Masking Tape: This tape is easy tear and doesn’t leave a sticky residue, but it’s not as strong as other tapes. Use it to label boxes or secure loose parts in transit.
  • Paper Packing Tape: Paper tape is an excellent medium-duty choice. It’s easy to tear by hand and secures cardboard boxes well.
  • Strapping Tape: This plastic tape has fiberglass threads inside for an exceptionally strong hold on heavy boxes, but you’ll need a knife or scissors to cut it.
  • Plastic Packing Tape: Standard packing tape is the traditional all-purpose tape, but we prefer paper tape for most boxes and strapping tape for the heaviest ones.
  • Duct Tape: This is one tape to stay away from: it doesn’t stick to cardboard well and often leaves a gooey residue.
  • Tape Dispensing Gun: Not technically tape, this tape accessory that will turn you into a packing speed-demon.
  • Carpet Protection Tape: Moving is a high-traffic activity. If you’d like to keep carpet free from dirt and debris, lay down a wide roll of this tape to keep dirty shoes off clean carpet.


Would you believe that most cardboard boxes look the same once they’re sealed? Labeling is a small time investment that will make life much, much easier down the road.

  • Permanent Markers: Fine-point black Sharpie markers are an industry favorite; be sure to buy a few extras, since they have a habit of disappearing.
  • Blank Labels: These are optional; feel free to write directly on boxes.
  • Preprinted Labels: Also optional, but they make it easy to stick a ‘kitchen’ or ‘office’ label right onto the box.

Tools and Misc.

A few items come in handy as you’re packing—and unpacking.

  • Utility Knife/Scissors: Cut, score, and break down boxes.
  • Ziplock bags: Use sandwich-sized and gallon-sized zipper bags to keep small, miscellaneous items together.
  • Rubber bands: Also great for securing groups of items.
  • Folding Table: Set up this mobile workspace as Packing Central.
  • Goo Gone: This cleaner removes the inevitable tape and label residue from surfaces.
  • Tape measure: Want to know if something will fit? Try measuring.
  • Allen Wrenches: If your furniture came from a store that also sells meatballs, you’ll want to have a wrench handy.

Many of the items in this list are relatively inexpensive, while others are a bit more pricey. If you’re hoping to move for the lowest possible cost, try reading 11 Money-Saving Moving Tips.

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