How to Move Without Using a Shitload of Boxes

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Photo: Robert Kneschke (Shutterstock)

There comes a time in every person’s life when we must ask: How the hell am I going to transport all this crap I have accumulated to a new home? Whether you’re leaving a 9-by-7 bedroom in a third floor New York City walkup or a four-bedroom suburban house with basement, sometimes the biggest challenge (besides deciding which possessions to toss) is finding adequate storage to contain and transport all your belongings.

The traditional route is to use cardboard boxes—so many boxes. But in the absence of an adequate supply of—or desire to use—stiff, cardboard containers, we present to you all these other options, many of which you probably already have.

The argument for—and against—trash bags

In a pinch, one can always throw soft items like clothes, sheets, and towels into garbage bags. But, two things: First, if they’re standard-issue kitchen trash bags, they may easily rip. And second, it may conjure memories of those college dorm-life days of yore. However, these heavy-duty, puncture-resistant contractor bags are three millimeters thick and wouldn’t tear even if your sweaters were made of steel wool. You won’t have to spend time breaking down and recycling them (like boxes) after you arrive, and you can re-use them for all sorts of cleaning and renovation projects in your new home.

Use a garbage bin (with wheels)

Another option is to use 32-gallon garbage bins—with wheels, mind you, don’t forget the wheels—to more easily transport stuff down stairs and across long driveways. Walmart has them for under $20, and Reddit user u/ManicPixieDreamSloot swears by this method for moving “a shit ton of clothes,” which they’ve used three times. “Much easier, especially if there are stairs involved. Fits more clothes, lets you save boxes for things more square and…well…boxy.”

Put dishes inside your clothes

Don’t do this with heirloom china or other especially delicate or sentimental dinnerware—but when it comes to the sturdy basics, consider stashing each piece between a layer of clothing or towels. It beats individually wrapping each piece in bubble wrap, and socks happen to make excellent sleeves for tall glasses. Keep all dishes to the middle of your vessel—too low and they can break on the ground; too high and they risk sliding out.

Zip your hanging clothes inside a large coat (or sheet)

When you think about it, it makes very little sense to take clothes on hangers off of them, only to fold, pack, unpack, unfold, and re-hang them in your new home. Instead of wardrobe boxes (which are great in the moment but useless after you move unless you’ve got loads of space to store them), keep them on hangers and zip them inside a large coat or garment bag. Then all you’ve got to do on move-in day is place the lot in your new closet and unzip.

You can also lay those hangers flat inside one half of a king-sized sheet, fold the other side over top, tie both ends in knots and enlist a friend or partner to help you carry it down the stairs.

Pack books away in suitcases

Hopefully you’re already stuffing all your available luggage, duffel bags, backpacks, and ample-sized totes to the brim prior to moving—they are designed to hold clothes, shoes, and all manner of other stuff, after all. But have you considered using their gloriously wheeled and sturdy frames for books? Books are heavy as hell, and will tear the ass out of a box with any structural weaknesses. Instead, place that shelf of hardcovers and photo albums in a wheeled suitcase to simplify your day.

(You may also want to consider getting extra luggage for the cause. Borrow some from friends, or buy some secondhand for cheap.)

Take advantage of laundry baskets

Don’t sleep on laundry baskets. With their depth and built-in handles, they’re excellent carriers of many small things. Line the bottom with a towel for cushion, and with the requisite buffer T-shirts between items, it can serve as a perfect dish caddy. Stash candles, books, board games, picture frames, or music and DVDs, if you’re old-school. For extra protection, tape some bubble wrap over the top or tuck another towel around the top so objects won’t bounce out during the ride.

Use food storage containers

Again, we’re going for speed and safety here. Chances are you have at least one junk drawer, old tool shelf, action figure collection, or old office supplies that must be packed. Unless the objects are fragile and need individual wrapping, toss those bad boys into whatever food storage containers you have, seal the lids and forget about them (which you probably should have done a long time ago).

The Santa Claus method

For the truly time-crunched, there’s always the method of throwing your clothes onto the top sheet of your bed and tying up the corners of the sheet, making a giant sack, a la Kris Kringle on Dec. 24. Remember to employ all your blankets, comforters, sleeping bags, towels, pillows, and puffer coats to their fullest advantage when you move. Don’t let all that cushiony softness go to waste! Use any and all to wrap your breakables and pad your vessels for the bumpy journey ahead.



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