Whether you're moving away for good or just heading off to college, packing your whole life into a handful of boxes is a frustrating chore, in part because you will almost certainly fail at it. You'll get to wherever you're going and realize that, while you remembered to bring some pants you don't especially like and a slinky that you've never even seen before, you forgot your glasses and your brain medicine. Now you can't even see and have ten minutes to live.
If you've moved around a lot and have never had a cartoonish series of impossible misfortunes, well then good for you, Professor Responsible. The rest of us need a guide to make sure we don't arrive in Ann Arbor from Houston with five toothbrushes and no wallet. Thankfully, there is such a guide, and here it is.
Start by making a list of things you cannot live without, then try to get by for a week with just the items on your list. If you're going to college, this will help you separate your necessities (underwear, waffle mix, insulin) from things that can be left behind (tiny desk cactus, Finnegan's Wake, huge duffel bag full of hundreds of pairs of shoes).
Gather twice as many boxes as you think you'll need. If you have too few boxes, you'll be cramming precious mementos into plastic bags on your way to the car like a hobo with a deadline. If you have too many boxes, your only problem is that you have too many boxes. Then you can make a cardboard box fort! Everybody wins.
Label your boxes in a way that is actually helpful. Otherwise you'll arrive at your destination with twenty boxes of "THINGS," "ITEMS," and "MISCELLANEOUS," and one that says Dole Bananas but contains almost no bananas.
If you're bringing a computer, separate the components and wrap their cables neatly so you don't wind up with a nightmarish tangle of wires and gizmos, more octopus than machine. Label everything for easy reassembly. Carefully pack the computer in a large box as well as you can, cushioning it for the safest possible transport. Upon your arrival, throw your computer directly in the trash because it broke in transit anyway.
Any clothes you haven't worn in over a year can be left behind (if you're coming back), donated (if you're leaving for good), or burned (Ed Hardy shirts). Besides, clothes are replaceable. Unless you're moving to Antarctica, they will in fact sell clothes wherever you're going.
If you are moving to Antarctica, bring penguin repellent.
Pack in an order that makes sense. Don't pack your toiletries at the bottom of the box with your collection of rusty nails, under the box with your collection of heavy rocks. You won't be able to get to your contact lens case or your deodorant, and soon you'll just be half-blind and smelly on top of having a bunch of inexplicable collections.
This helpful list provides examples of items you should replace instead of packing, although if you were inclined to pack your Sterno, kerosene, and acid in the first place, then we're not going to get in the way of your insidious scheme because it's pretty clear that you are, in fact, Doctor Doom.
If more than one flight of stairs is involved in your move, just go ahead and have a couple of heat strokes right now to get some practice.
Trick someone into helping you move heavy stuff to or from your car. If you're a girl, this is a simple matter of just walking outside and having obvious trouble with a heavy box, at which point a handsome and muscular stranger will happen by. If you live in the Midwest, he will insist upon helping you, but only after taking off his shirt. If you live in New Jersey, he may also club you over the head and steal your purse.
If you are a guy, nobody will help you with anything and you should probably just start going to the gym.
Any other packing tips?
Related Post: Moving for Dumb-Butts