Moving Essentials: What to Pack When Moving?

Moving Essentials: What to Pack When Moving?

Published: 24 Aug, 2022

Last Updated: 20 Jan, 2023

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Table of Contents


Relocating is not easy, but in all essence, uprooting your life (and the routines that go with it) and the process of settling in a new place with unfamiliar everything was never going to be really.

The changes notwithstanding, what else makes moving stressful is the preparations leading up to the move.

Packing in particular – which includes sorting out your belongings and deciding what to move and what to leave behind – can be draining. This is the most laborious aspect of every move and usually, the bigger the move, the more demanding the packing.

It is not surprising then that in the midst of all the chaos, a lot can slip between the cracks and it’s not until we need to retrieve something that we realize we forgot to plan for it in the process. This is why having a detailed moving checklist helps.

Now, something else you really don’t want to forget is a box for packing your moving essentials. Unfortunately, many people do, much to their chagrin later on.

The question is: What is a moving essentials box, and what does it entail?


What is an Essentials Box?

Well, as the name suggests, a moving essentials box is a box for packing your most vital items for convenient access; all the necessities for moving that you need are within reach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a box, though: it can be a bag.

A move-out essentials box is more like the carry-on luggage that you take with you on your travels: this is where you throw all the things you need within easy access – ID and/or passport, device chargers, headphones, change of clothes, and so on.

The difference this time is that you’ve customized the box contents for moving (obviously), so it could be more exhaustive, double so if there are kids and/or pets involved.


Why Do You Need a Moving Essentials Box?

After the fatigue of a moving day, nobody wants to spend their evening or the following morning rummaging through boxes trying to find a toothbrush. Or pet food.

This is why packing your moving essentials and other necessities for moving makes sense.

The boxes containing your essentials for moving out will depend on the size of your move, so said boxes could be more than one. Regardless of the number, these boxes or bags will carry those little but indispensable items that make your everyday life easier. Think of them as those everyday moving necessities that you can’t do without (which they are really).

Which leads us to the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: what should you include in essentials for moving out box?

Anyone with some moving experience will probably have an idea, but it never hurts to be fully briefed because when it comes to moving house, the better prepared you are, the smoother and less stressful your move will be. The amount of advance preparation needed for a move is often underestimated, and many people realize this the hard way when moving day is nigh and there is little time left.

Unless you are relocating at short notice, starting early helps you avoid the mad rush of last-minute packing that only serves to exacerbate moving anxiety and stress levels and could see you overlook many minutes but crucial details, including organizing your essentials for moving.


Moving Essentials Checklist

As much as we are advocates for early planning, however, it’s worth pointing out that the boxes or bags designated for your moving essentials should be packed last.

A nice hack we recommend is to pack your moving essentials piecemeal. Depending on the items in question, some stuff can be packed early and others like toothbrushes and electronics can wait until the last day.

Start by drafting a moving essentials checklist, and while you are at it, consider going with either one of two approaches:

  1. Pack moving essentials for individual family members.
  2. Pack moving essentials on a room-to-room basis.

Let’s delve deeper into what each approach entails.

  Moving Essentials for Individual Family Members.

Moving Essentials for Individual Family Members.

Every move-out essentials list includes shared moving necessities for the whole family but there is also a list of things to pack when moving that are unique to individual family members.

Let’s break down these move-out essentials for better clarity, shall we?

General Family Essentials Box

The general essentials box contains communal household items and moving necessities. A complete general moving essentials list would look something like this:

  • Toothpaste, bath soap, conditioner, and shampoo;
  • Dish soap;
  • All-purpose cleaner;
  • Dish cloth and dish towel;
  • Paper towels and cleaning rags;
  • Toilet paper;
  • Snacks and beverages;
  • Coffee, coffee maker, and coffee mugs;
  • Salt and sugar;
  • Plastic cups, paper plates, and plastic utensils;
  • Books and games;
  • All important documents;
  • Basic tools – scissors, screwdriver, hammer;
  • Flashlight (including spare batteries if applicable);
  • Family first-aid kit;
  • Extension cords;
  • Garbage bags.

Personal Essentials

On top of the general essentials box, you also need to pack a personal move-out essentials box for each member of the family.

Each box should contain personal items that include:

  • Prescription medicine;
  • Toothbrush;
  • Towel;
  • Hairbrush;
  • Pajamas;
  • Change of clothes for a day or two;
  • Bedding;
  • Personal hygiene items, including cosmetics;
  • Personal devices – phones, tablets, laptops, and their respective chargers.

Children’s Essentials

Moving necessities for kids will be informed by their age and needs. These extras typically include stuff like:

  • Baby food, formula, and bottles;
  • Suitable snacks and drinks;
  • Diapers;
  • Favorite toys and games;
  • Extra clothes;
  • Night light.

Essentials for Pets

Got a pet? Great! But you also need to plan for them by creating their own custom essentials box. It can include entries like:

  • Pet food;
  • Food and water bowls;
  • Favorite treats;
  • Bedding;
  • Leash;
  • Pet carrier;
  • Toys;
  • Clean-up bags.
  Moving Essentials for Individual Rooms.

Moving Essentials for Individual Rooms.

This is another approach you can adopt when packing your essentials for moving.

The specific items (versus packing for individual persons) are the same. The only difference is that this time, the moving essentials boxes contain items for the different rooms in your home.

Here is how you would normally group your essentials box using this approach:


These moving day essentials are pretty much similar to what we included in the general family essentials box, with a couple of omissions.

A general essentials box could carry:

  • All-purpose cleaner;
  • Paper towels and cleaning rags;
  • Basic tools – scissors, screwdriver, hammer;
  • Flashlight (including spare batteries if applicable);
  • Family first aid kit;
  • Books and games;
  • Extension cords;
  • Garbage bags.


Below are the moving necessities you should include in your bathroom moving out essentials bag:

  • Toothpaste, bath soap/shower gel, conditioner, and shampoo;
  • Toothbrushes;
  • Towels;
  • Hair brush;
  • Tissue paper;
  • Personal hygiene items, including cosmetics;
  • Shower curtain.


It never hurts to have some kitchen items on hand during a move, and it need not necessarily be a long-distance move.

It might take a few days to settle in at your new place – particularly if there are no small children that would oblige you to start whipping up meals straight away. During that time, you probably aren’t in the mood for takeout.

It’s called being meticulous in your planning, and your kitchen moving essentials list would typically encompass these items:

  • Dish soap;
  • Dish cloth and dish towel;
  • Paper towels and cleaning rags;
  • Snacks and beverages;
  • Coffee, coffee maker, and coffee mugs;
  • Salt and sugar;
  • Plastic cups, paper plates, and plastic utensils;
  • Snacks for the kids;
  • Optional – cooking utensils, can opener, toaster, skillet.


For the bedrooms, include the following in your moving essentials list:

  • Several changes of clothes;
  • Pajamas;
  • Bedding;
  • Curtains;
  • Prescription medication and specialized medical items such as asthma inhalers where applicable;
  • Personal devices – phones, tablets, laptops, and their respective chargers.

How to Pack Moving Essentials Boxes?

As we alluded to earlier, packing moving essentials should be reserved for after (preferably the last week preceding Moving Day).

However, it’s super important to create a moving essentials checklist to avoid missing anything, more so if you’re going to wait until the last week. Even then, we recommend starting earlier and packing items that are not often used or are not immediately needed pre-move.

We’ll leave you to choose the approach you consider more suitable for you, but regardless of choice, don’t forget to pick up any moving supplies you might need for the job.

In the case of liquids, ensure their respective containers are properly sealed and go a step further and drop these containers in a plastic bag to keep any potential leaks from ruining other stuff in the essentials for the moving box.

If you decide to get your boxes done sooner, don’t seal them just yet: you might need to add something later.


Moving essentials are meant to make your life easier on moving day and immediately after moving in.

Always label each essentials box to make it easier to spot. Despite that, though, you want your necessities for moving traveling with you in the same car as opposed to the moving company’s truck. This will ensure you don’t get stranded when you arrive at your new home.

Unless, of course, the mover is scheduled to arrive ahead of you; in which case, you should make arrangements for the unloading if you don’t want to incur extra charges for keeping the movers waiting. But that’s a topic for another day!

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