You’ve decided to move. You’ve found a new place to live. You’ve chosen your date for Moving Day. This is where the rubber meets the road: It’s time to start packing. 

Like most of the things you do around your house, packing is worlds easier when you have the right tools. Gathering the right supplies doesn’t have to cost you a bundle. You may own have some of these items already. However, in some cases, shelling out a few dollars to upgrade what you’ve got can make your packing experience even simpler than you might have imagined. 

We’ll show you what we mean as we walk you through the eight moving materials you just shouldn’t pack without. 

#1: Start a Moving Binder . . . or Something Like It 

For years, we’ve recommended buying a 3-ring binder to keep absolutely everything related to your move. Receipts, contracts, confirmations—put everything in inside so you know exactly where to look when you need any documentation related to your move.

Where to Buy: If you’re a paper person, get yourself to the nearest office supply store and grab yourself that binder. 

However, we know there are some of you out there who like to keep it digital. So many receipts and confirmations end up in our email today, and it may not feel practical to print them out. If this is you, we recommend creating a folder on your computer. Save copies of your emails, receipts and more to this folder, and you’ll know exactly where to look if needed. 

The bottom line: Whether you prefer print or digital, the most thing you need is one single spot for all of your moving paperwork. That way, should anything happen, you’ll have all the documentation you need to get it solved ASAP. 

#2: Invest in New Boxes 

We know that it’s tempting to re-use old boxes or to grab a stash from your local liquor store. The problem is that cardboard boxes aren’t designed for multiple use. Their structural integrity weakens significantly after their first use and, if stored, they can lose much of their strength.  

Translation: Old or re-used boxes are much more likely to crush and possibly damage their contents. 

  • If you’re putting belongings into a container to move to or from the Mainland—or between islands—we strongly recommend new boxes. As your container gets loaded and unloaded from the truck, then onto the ship, your boxes will be subjected to a lot of force. (And that doesn’t even take into account the rolling your ship will do during its ocean voyage.) New boxes are your best bet to protect your belongings. 
  • If you’re making a local move, you might be okay reusing some boxes. However,  take extra special care packing your fragile items, like your dishes. Fill your boxes to the top, since boxes with empty space in them are more likely to crush. Finally, avoid boxes that have ever held food products. The possibility for mold or contamination isn’t worth the risk.

Where to Buy: You may be able to purchase supplies from your moving company. Hardware stores and many mail and shipping stores also sell boxes. 

#3: Grab Some Packing Paper 

For just about every move we pack, we rely heavily on white packing paper, which is essentially unprinted newsprint. While you can save newspapers instead of buying packing paper, the ink will likely rub off on your items. With packing paper, you won’t have that problem. 

Surrounding your fragile goods with packing paper will help keep them safe during your move. It doesn’t come with the mess that packing peanuts can create, and it involves less plastic use than bubble wrap. 

Just keep in mind our #1 rule when it comes to packing paper: You cannot use too much paper. More paper generally equals more protection. 

Where to Buy: Hardware stores and office supply stores both stock packing paper. You may also be able to purchase packing paper from moving companies as well as mail and shipping stores. 

#4: Spring for Heavy-Duty Packing Tape with a Dispenser 

Packing tape is literally the glue that’s going to hold your boxes together, so don’t skimp when you’re purchasing your supply. It’s worth a few extra dollars to get the heavy-duty type, and you won’t regret grabbing a few extra rolls. You’ll want plenty of tape to make your boxes secure for the journey. 

You’ll also thank us later for snagging a tape gun dispenserA tape gun will amp up your efficiency by a factor of at least 10. Just slap the end of the dispenser down on the box, pull out a strip of tape and finish it off with a flick of the wrist. No need to break out a pair of scissors. No more wrestling with a flimsy piece of plastic. And, maybe most importantly, no more losing the end of the roll. 

Where to Buy: If you have the time for online ordering, offers a wide variety of dispensers. If you need your dispenser today, drop by a hardware store or an office supply store. 

#5: Go Big on Your Markers 

The right markers will make labeling your boxes significantly easier. We recommend you go with thick, black permanent markers that will help you label you boxes clearly in just a few strokes.  

We like this two-pack of big Sharpies, but any large permanent marker will do. If you’re debating between two sizes, trust us and go big. 

Where to Buy: Any office supply store will offer you a good variety, or you can take advantage of the wide selection on 

#6: Don’t Pack Those Ziplock Bags Too Early 

You’re going to need them! Ziplock bags are great for: 

  • Adding an extra layer of security around liquid items as they travel, like bottles of shampoo. 
  • Storing hardware from disassembled furniture: Just drop all the nuts and bolts (and the Allen wrench you used to loosen them) into one Ziplock, label it with your Sharpie, and you’ll have everything you need to reassemble on the other end. 

You can even put air in Ziplocks to create your own little cushions for between objects. 

If you’re concerned about your plastic consumption (Mahalo for your kokua!), you can wash and dry them after your move for re-use. 

Where to Buy: Hit up your grocery store. Consider supplying yourself with both snack-size and gallon-size so you have the right size bag for the job. 

#7: It’s in the Bag—the Mattress Bag 

A lot of people worry about getting their mattress dirty when they move. That’s completely understandable! We spend a third of our lives on this piece of furniture, and it’s almost impossible to clean. 

The easy solution? Snag a mattress bag and it will keep your mattress protected throughout your move. 

Where to Buy: Hardware stores and moving supply stores will stock this item, as does 

#8: Keep Your Tool Set Handy  

The moving process means lots of assembly and disassembly. Make sure you have a small tool set at your disposal. Ideally, you should pack these last, or include them in an essentials kit that you carry with you to your new home.  

At a minimum, we suggest keeping handy: 

  • Two screwdrivers, one Phillips and one flat head 
  • An extra Allen wrench, especially if you own a lot of IKEA furniture 
  • A utility knife 
  • A pair of scissors 
  • A hammer 

With these at hand, you’ll be ready for just about any eventuality. Because if there’s anything we’ve learned about moving after 35+ years in the business, it’s that the unexpected can—and does—happen. It pays to be prepared. 


Everything You Need to Do the Job Right 

While this list is by no means exhaustive—you may notice we left out snacks (!)—these eight items will help make your packing process a snap. With these tools in hand, you won’t be wasting time wrestling with your tape, remarking boxes your movers can’t read or worrying about the trail dust your mattress is picking up along its journey. Instead, you’ll enjoy an efficient and easy packing process, one that gets you that much closer to settling into your new home. 


Want to leave the packing to someone else? We’d be happy to help! Whether you’re moving locally, relocating to another island or headed to or from the Mainland, we can take care of everything from start to finish. Just reach out to us, and we’ll send out a Certified Moving Consultant to put together a quote. 

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