I can't believe it's already been 5 months since we moved across state for Aaron's new job. Wow, that seems like such a long time. Since then, I've had 4 separate people ask me for moving tips (the most recent one was yesterday). So - here's post #1 on PACKING TIPS.
You can buy boxes from Uhaul (and return any unused ones), or get them for FREE from grocery stores, etc. If you're gonna go for 'free' - make sure you start collecting them FAR in advance! Generally after boxes are emptied at the store / restaurant / etc., they're broken down and put in the crusher, so make sure to ask the store what the best time of day is to come get some. If you do a google search, you can usually find cheap (or even FREE) boxes other people have used for moving.
There's no point buying rolls of wrapping paper (in most circumstances) because newspaper works just fine. (This time around, I did use rolled paper for our wedding china, but everything else was newspaper.) Most friends won't mind saving their newspapers for you before a big move. It takes MUCH MORE newspaper than you'd expect (if you're really gonna protect your possessions), so SAVE TONS of newspaper. Then if you have any left over, just recycle it. (And after you unpack, recycle what you used too.)
Items in dressers (desks, etc.) stay in dressers (etc.). It's awfully nice to get to your new place, and not have to sort through boxes for clean underwear! Also, it saves time (not having to pack those items) and space (no point in the dressers sitting in the truck empty)! So, the guys just remove the drawers before carrying the dresser (etc) to the truck, and put the drawers back in once in the truck. Then they repeat the process at the new house.
Items on hangers stay on hangers. I generally save up dry cleaning bags to cover them so they stay clean, but garbage bags work just as fine. Uhaul sells big boxes with rods, so that your clothes hang on a rod while moving, but I think that's a waste of money. Most moving trucks have spots where they can hang up, or if not, then they can easily lay across the back seat of a car.
Mark EACH box ON TOP and on ONE SIDE with which room it will go TO at the new place, as well as a detailed list of what's inside. Of course, it helps if you've had a chance to think about which room you want what at the new place. Inevitably some boxes will sit unopened for a couple months, and you'll still be able to find your garden spade when the time comes to use it. Also, this helps right after you move in, when you make spaghetti, and suddenly realize you haven't unpacked the colander yet. If all the unopened boxes are stacked along a wall (and you wrote the items on the side as well), you will know what's in each box, and won't have to move each one to read the list (that's written on the top). Writing the contents both places will save you tons of extra moving and annoyance!
Mark any FRAGILE and HEAVY boxes accordingly on ALL sides of the box. If the men aren't careful with a box, and don't know that your grandmother's china is inside, then it's YOUR fault. But, if the box is clearly marked 'fragile' on all sides ... then the men know that their very life hangs in the balance while they carry that box. It's also only fair that the men know before hand that the box they're about to pick up weighs as much as a Mini Cooper.
As you get boxes packed, pile them all in a particular room, or particular part of a room. This helps you be able to still walk around them, and maintain some level of 'normalcy' in your life through the packing process. Also, it's encouraging as you eventually notice how much IS packed and how LITTLE remains to be done.
Don't pack your blankets - use them to wrap furniture. Don't pack your towels in a box by themselves - use them to wrap fragile things in boxes. Borrow all the blankets you can get from friends. Even during the most careful of moves, furniture that's not completely covered will get nicks in it. We didn't borrow enough blankets, and yes, our furniture got banged up. The guys did the best they could - I just didn't have enough on hand for them to use (and I had A LOT of blankets!). Ideally, furniture should he completely covered by a thick blanket.
... That should be a good spot to stop for now. HAPPY PACKING!