9 Items to Keep With You When You Move

Moving to a new home can be exciting, but it’s also stressful. With all the packing, organizing, and planning that goes into a move, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and accidentally pack away essential items you’ll need during the transition.

From important documents to everyday necessities, there are certain things you’ll want to keep close at hand throughout the moving process.

Couple unpacking boxes after a move

One of the most frustrating things about moving from one home to another is that after all the furniture gets moved, you’re still living in boxes for a while. The stuff you need to get dressed and go to work can get misplaced in the shuffle.

My classic favorite is being unable to find any scissors or knives you can use to open the boxes where the scissors and/or knives are. That’s a real facepalm moment!

Right after a move seemed like the perfect time for me to make a list of things you want to make sure you can put your hands on after the move, and so that’s what I’ve done. I suggest packing a suitcase or box you can fit into your vehicle with these items so they’re with you at all times.

1. Unpacking Supplies

Scissors and/or box cutters. Pack these carefully into a suitcase (wrapping them tightly in newspaper will do the trick) so they won’t stab a hole through your luggage. You’re going to need them for unpacking boxes.

Notepads. Either your phone’s notes app or a tiny little spiral memo book kept in a pocket or purse will help you keep track of everything you need to do or have already done. If you’re moving a whole household of people, you might want to keep this somewhere that everyone can read it and check off items so you don’t end up wasting your time on tasks and phone calls someone else already finished for you.

2. Non-perishable foods

Keep on hand some peanut butter and crackers and other food items that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. It may sound simple to plan on eating out for a few days after you move, but when you’re painfully hungry in the middle of unpacking, you’ll appreciate having a snack you can grab without stopping your work.

3. Basic Linens

It could be days before you find the box with the towels and washcloths, or the bed sheets. Keep a set or so with you so you’ve got something for that first shower and first night sleeping in your new place.

4. Important Documents and Identification

One of the most crucial things to keep with you during a move is your important documents and identification. These items could be needed if anything unexpected happens, and you don’t want to risk misplacing them or having them buried deep in a packed box.

It’s also wise not to risk dishonest movers finding and stealing these documents. Some of the essential documents you should always keep on hand include:

  • Passports
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Social Security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Wills and power of attorney forms
  • Insurance policies
  • Vehicle registration and titles
  • Financial statements and bank information
  • Phone numbers for your new utilities.

The last time I moved, I kept all these things in a little portfolio that packed neatly into a suitcase. I recommend setting up the new utilities before you move – it’s usually something you can do online these days, or with a phone call.

Keep utility phone numbers available in case you need to reschedule an installation appointment, or the installer doesn’t show up.

5. Medications and Prescriptions

Another critical item to keep with you is any medications or prescriptions you or your family members – including pets – rely on. Make sure to pack a sufficient supply of any prescription drugs, as well as any over-the-counter medications you use regularly, such as pain relievers, allergy medicines, or vitamins.

It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your current prescriptions, including the dosage and instructions, in case you need to refill them or provide the information to a new healthcare provider. You may already have all you need on your phone, if you use an app to get refills.

6. Valuables and Sentimental Items

In addition to important documents and medications, you’ll want to keep any valuable or sentimental items close to you during the move. These can include:

Consider packing these items in a separate, secure bag or box that you can keep with you at all times, rather than entrusting them to the movers or packing them away in a random box.

If you don’t have room for everything in your car or on the plane, you may want to mail these things to your new address, and insure them.

7. Daily Essentials and Personal Care Items

Set aside a bag or box of daily essentials and personal care items that you’ll need during the transition. This can include:

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Eyeglasses or contacts
  • Makeup and grooming supplies
  • Several changes of clothes (see below)
  • Pajamas and slippers
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Snacks and water bottles
  • Shoes for the occasion

Clothes. It’s usually easy to find and unpack your clothes after the move – there are empty closets waiting for them so you don’t have to search for a place to put them, and if you use the mover’s wardrobe boxes you won’t have trouble identifying the boxes that have clothes in them.

The problem is, they won’t look freshly laundered, and when will you have the time and energy to do washing, drying and ironing? If it’s at all feasible, pack a week’s worth of clothes for everyone into a wardrobe bag or suitcase.

These should travel pretty well – if they get wrinkled, a little heat from a hair dryer should fix that. And don’t forget undies!

Shoes. Pick the fewest pairs that will get you through a week, and remember to pack socks inside them to save space. Sneakers are great for the move, but if you’re starting a new job that’s not casual wear, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got the right shoes available.

Grooming supplies, especially hard-to-get or pricey ones. The good news is, if you forget to pack all your soaps, shampoos and other products, you can generally just buy new ones.

The problems happen when your prescription body wash goes missing and you don’t have a refill left, or the only good brush for your fussy hair has to be ordered online and won’t come for a few days. Make sure any specialty items you use are on hand immediately during and after the move.

And don’t forget hand mirrors if you need them to check the back of your hair.

To make sure you have what you need, start putting every cosmetic item or tool you use into a case or bag that will travel with you. Do this for at least a few days, in case there are items you don’t use every day but will need within a week of the move.

8. Electronics and Chargers

Keep your essential electronics and their corresponding chargers close at hand. This can include:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets or laptops
  • Portable power banks
  • Charging cables and adapters

Having these items readily available will allow you to stay connected, entertained, and productive during the moving process. You can use your devices to stay in touch with friends and family, access important information, or simply pass the time during any downtime or delays.

9. Keys and Access Items

Finally, don’t forget to keep any keys, access cards, or fobs that you’ll need during the move. This can include:

  • House keys
  • Car keys
  • Garage door openers
  • Office or building access cards

These items are essential for getting into your new home, starting your vehicle, and accessing any other necessary locations. By keeping them separate and easily accessible, you can avoid the frustration of searching for them amidst the chaos of the move.

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Last Updated:

May 14, 2024