9 Tips To Pack Like A Minimalist

Downsize. Pack. Repeat.

As you may know from previous posts, I’m in the process of moving.  There is nothing like moving to make me feel like a minimalist fraud.  When I consider the amount of time, resources, and energy needed to get my belongings from Point A to Point B, it’s enough to make me want to give everything away and live out of my backpack.

Then I have to remind myself: minimalism is not (necessarily) measured by the number of things I own, it is both a process and a mindset.  Additionally, minimalism looks different for everyone.  There is no ‘right way’ to do it.

As I was packing up my apartment, feeling very much not like a minimalist, I realized I was intuitively approaching the packing process with the mindset of a minimalist.  Here is what I did.

1) Minimize Before, During, And After Your Move

Decluttering and de-owning before you move is a great time to do so.  Packing makes you consider the true value of your belongings becuase you have to remove them from their space, consider them, and decide if you want to pack them.  The less you own, the easier it is to pack, right?  (Unless you’re packing a piano.)

But let’s say your move is sudden or you don’t have the mental capacity to downsize before you move.  Guest what, you can still downsize your belongings throughout the moving process.  Just because you packed something, and hauled it to your new home, doesn’t mean you are stuck with it for another 7 years.

Once you arrive to your new place, notice how you feel when you unpack your items. How does it feel to put them in your new space?  Do they belong there?  Did you forget you owned something?  Unpacking is a great time to question if the item is still useful, contributing to your values, or serving your highest self.

2) Borrow Cleaning Supplies

Moving often means deep cleaning. You might feel the impulse to suddenly purchase a conglomeration of fancy cleaning supplies so you can get your home extra clean.  Yes, there is no need to purchase extra cleaning supplies just to clean your home after you leave.  For example, I borrowed stainless steal cleaner from my landlord (I didn’t know such a thing existed!) and some other specialized cleaning supplies from a neighbor so that I didn’t have to purchase additional items.  Another option is to hire someone to do your move out cleaning, then they have the specialized cleaning supplies for deep cleaning.  (If you choose this route, try to find someone who is a local word-of-mouth referral. They will probably be much more economical than a large company.)

 3) Put Jewelry and Knick-Knacks in Tupperware

Use those small tupperware containers to pack small items that you don’t want to get broken, tangled, or scratched, such as jewelry or figurines.  Pad them with kitchen rags. There is no need to use plastic baggies or purchase special packing material.

4) You Don’t Need To Buy Boxes

Dumpster dive for boxes or look on the “free” section of Craigslist or other apps (i.e. Letgo).  Ask your friends if they have any from their last move.  After moving, offer your unwanted boxes to others so they can’t have more life and use after they end up in the recycling.

5) Use Your Linens And Unwanted Clothes To Pack Fragile Items

I used my linens as packaging for my dishes and fragile items.  It worked great, but it did take up more packing space than if I used newspaper. (I don’t have many items, so this didn’t compromise the packing process.)  This saves you from having to buy fancying packaging material that will just get thrown away once you unpack.  As you minimize your closet, considering turn unwanted or raggedy clothes into rags and/or packaging material for fragile items. (Just make sure they don’t end up back in your closet after the move!)

6) Use Backpacks To Haul Books

Books are heavy! If you put them in boxes, they get very heavy, very fast.  Use your backpacks to carry them if you are doing your moving yourself to make the process more manageable.  (FYI: When downsizing your books, there are some places that will trade in your unwanted books for credit or cash.)

7) Use Empty Suitcases To Pack Clothes

Packing your clothes in your empty suitcases helps them stay organized.  It also helps when you get to your new home to easily access your clothes.  If you have multiple suitcases, use them to sort your clothes into those that you wear often and those you don’t so you know which suitcase is your go-to once you arrive to your new home.  (There is nothing like ending a long moving day and not being able to find clean pajamas!)

8) Use A Number System To Keep Your Boxes Organized

During my previous move (a 9 hour drive between old home and new), I used a number system to keep track of which boxes were essential and which were not.  Once your life is in boxes, it’s hard to remember which box has your favorite mug and which has your tax receipts from 5 years ago.  When packing, anything that I needed within a day or two of arrival to my new home had a number one on it.  This included current clothes, bathroom toiletries, frequently used dishes, etc.   Anything that I wouldn’t need within the first week of moving, was marked with the number two.  This included camping gear, winter clothes, and books.  This made the unpacking process so much easier becuase I didn’t have to rummage through four boxes labeled ‘Kitchen’ to find my favorite mug and silverware.

9) Have a “Miscellaneous Box” or a “Junk Box”

Many organizing experts will tell you of the importance of a junk drawer.  I believe the same applies when packing.  You will come across random items that you know you need to keep, but aren’t sure where to pack them.  Put them in a ‘junk box’ to sort later.  This keeps the packing process moving along smoothly without getting caught up in finding a place to pack random items.  Make sure that you go through this box when you arrive to your new home.  If this box sits in your basement for several months before you access it, you may want to just get rid of it!

Happy Packing!

What tips and tricks do you use when packing?  How do you embrace the minimalist mindset during your move?

Click here for my minimalist reading list.


Arianna Smith, MA, LPC


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s