With a little care and planning, you and your stuff will both arrive in mint condition. Most damage comes from vibration. Think of a stack of dishes in a moving box on the bed of a bouncing truck. No matter how well the sides are padded, a firm up-and-down jolt could crack the entire stack. On the other hand, dishes packed on edge and surrounded by bubble wrap have a better chance of surviving the trip unharmed.
In the long run, it pays to purchase the right packing materials. Sturdy moving boxes, Packing Tape, Bubble Wrap, and Paking Paper are worth the money. A Tape Dispenser may help you move along quicker. Supplement with copious amounts of blankets and pillows; even clothing can serve as a buffer between breakable objects. There should be no empty space in a box, however don't overpack the moving box either.
Use the right moving box. A good packing job starts with strong, sturdy moving boxes. Moving boxes have a seal on the bottom that gives their strength and capacity. That seal will indicate a weight limit and an "Edge Crush Test" rating. 32ect is standard for most moving boxes. 44ect is standard for most wardrobe boxes and larger specialty boxes.
Use heavy-duty packing tape (not masking tape) for the boxes as well as for taping things together (like broom handles).
Pack one room at a time, labeling each moving box with a description of its contents and its destination (e.g., kitchen, bathroom). Be as specific as you can; it will make unpacking that much easier. Keep the weight of your moving boxes reasonable. If possible, put heavy items in small moving boxes to make them easier to carry. Don't apply tape directly to polished or painted wood finishes. Removing the tape could ruin the surface. Double-box fragile items and add plenty of cushioning. When everything is packed and ready to load, make sure the items you need least are loaded first. Common sense is essential when loading the truck. Place the moving box containing your best china on top of the box of encyclopedias and not vice versa.
Prepare for the first night in your new home by packing essential items in a separate bag and carrying it with you. You may even want to prepare a simple meal that you can heat and serve on your first night.
For each person in the household: a change of clothes, a towel, prescription drugs, a toothbrush, and other personal items.
For everyone: plastic utensils, paper plates, paper towels, plastic cups, toilet paper, toiletries, trash bags, a flashlight, first aid kit including pain relievers, pencil and paper, snacks, beverages, and re-closable plastic bags. Small tool kit for re-assembling items that couldn't be moved whole.
Pack small appliances in original container or a moving box cushioned with Packing Paper. (Do not use shredded paper - it can clog the appliance!)
With major appliances, check with the appliance dealer for any special moving instructions. For all large appliances, remove loose fittings and accessories and pack separately. Tie down, tape or wedge all movable parts and doors.
Gas Dryer - Have gas company disconnect.
Dishwasher/Washing Machine - Stuff towels between machine sides and tub to keep tub from rotating. Pad exterior well. Disconnect hoses, put in plastic bag, place in tub.
Freezer/Refrigerator - Defrost and dry interiors well. Fill interior spaces with lightweight linens, clothing or stuffed toys. If you want to lay your refrigerator down for moving, check first with the local dealer to determine if your brand can be moved like this. If so, make sure refrigerator stands upright for at least 24 hours before plugging in.
Beds - Disassemble the bed frame. Tie rails and cross-pieces together with packing tape. Be sure to mark on tape to show where pieces fit together for reassembly. You can protect your mattress and boxspring with a Mattress Cover or large sheets of plastic. You may want to cover them just before you walk out the door - the plastic may make it difficult to move downstairs or around awkward corners in your home.
Bicycles, Tricycles, Baby Carriages - Loosen, lower and turn handlebars at right angles to save space. Clean and cover chains and pedals to protect other items from being snagged or soiled.
Books - They're heavy, so use Medium Moving Boxes. Don't mix books with other items. Pack books flat, alternating bindings, and fill empty spaces with packing paper or bubble wrap.
Bureaus, Dressers - Fill drawers with small breakable items and cushion well with loose clothes. Secure drawers with pad or blanket and tape. Do not overload drawers with heavy items.
Chairs - Wrap arms and legs to prevent scratches. Bundle armless chairs in pairs, seat to seat, with a folded blanket or other padding between and tie seats together.
Clothes - Dresses, coats, suits - anything hanging in closets - travel best in reusable Wardrobe Moving Boxes, which can be used seasonally as "extra closets" for wardrobe storage. Other clothes can remain folded in their regular dresser drawers. Also, Large Moving Boxes can hold a lot of clothes without making the box too heavy.
Comforters, Pillows, Large/Light Items - Extra Large Moving Boxes will be best for packing light bulky items. If you have small fragile items, you can pack a few in between the pilows for extra protection - just don't forget they are there!
Curtain Rod Hardware - Put the hardware in a plastic bag and tape to rod or pack in dresser drawers.
Dishes - Individually wrap each piece. Kitchen Moving Boxes will fit most kitchenware without making the box too heavy. Place saucers, plates and platters on edge - DO NOT STACK FLAT. Cups and bowls may be placed inside each other and wrapped three or four in a bundle.
Kitchenware - Pots, pans, etc. can be stacked in a box with packing paper between them. Remember not to make the box too heavy - someone has to carry it!
Glasses - Wrap each glass separately in packing paper or bubble wrap (you can wrap first in a plastic bag to save washing later).
Fine Furniture - You may want to wrap your best furniture in bubble wrap, not only to protect it from scratching, but to keep dust and dirt off the upholstery. Stretch Wrap can also help to prevent small scratches and dust from damaging your furniture. Make sure to wrap the item very tight to prevent snags while you are moving.
Lamps - After disassembling lamps, pack small bases in dresser drawers surrounded by loose clothing, and large bases in boxes stuffed with packing paper or bubble wrap. Box shades individually in boxes with plenty of packing paper for stuffing. Don't use newspaper because it smudges.
Lawn Mowers - Drain fuel and oil before loading. Remove handle from hand mowers and place blade end in sturdy box. Mark properly.
Mirrors, Paintings, Prints - Small mirrors can be well wrapped in paper and packed in boxes. For a larger mirrors and large picture frames, Frame Moving Boxes work best. Mark GLASS on the outside to prevent mishandling. Always pack and store on end.
Paint and Flammables - Don't move! The same goes for other flammables such as alcohol, solvents, lighter fluid, ammunition and greasy mops or rags.
Radios, TVs - Box upright and make sure items are well padded on all sides. For console-size equipment, surround with furniture pads, and then move and load upright. Rugs and Pads - After vacuuming rugs and pads, sprinkle with moth flakes. Roll up and tape.
Stereos, Compact Discs and Cassettes - Separately pack components and pack in well-padded box marked FRAGILE. Pack CDs upright in their cases in a sturdy box with tape-reinforced bottom. Tie CDs in small bundles before packing, then fill air space with packing paper. Mark FRAGILE. Cassettes can be packed in a similar manner, although you can group them in larger bundles.
Tables - For large tables, remove legs and tie together. Put hardware in small sealed envelope taped to underside of table top. Pad tops. Pad and tie spare table leaves. For smaller tables, pad top and wrap legs to prevent scratching.
Tools and Gardening Equipment - Drain hoses, coil and pack in boxes. Fill remaining space with lawn sprinklers, small garden hand tools, etc. Combine rakes, shovels, and other long-handled tools together with tape.
Valuables - Set aside jewelry, important papers and safe deposit box contents to be packed in a small container you can keep with you throughout the move.