We've all heard that moving is one of the top three most stressful life events. But because I've been something of a serial mover, I don't find it that anxiety-provoking. Moving more often than most people has taught me to be smarter about the whole thing. And in honor of me moving—again—next week, I'd love to share my biggest moving secret: Before I pack one box, I'll pack an overnight bag. It's not because I'm heading to the beach before the moving truck arrives; it's just that I've learned that it's really important to keep a few items at hand like pajamas, a change of clothes for the next day, and a few of my favorite things—you know, the things you don't want to spend time searching for after an exhausting day of moving. Not only does each thing on this list help ensure that my new home feels homier faster, but each item helps prevent what I like to call relocation disorientation. Consider this your personal checklist of must-haves, no matter if you're moving a block away or several cities from your current location.
#1: Make sure you can sleep—and shower
Have you ever watched as your movers settled your bed into place in your new bedroom only to realize that you have zero idea where the sheets are? Don't let that happen to you. Instead, pack luggage with as much bedding as you can fit, as well as a body and hand towel. There's nothing worse than drying your hands on, literally, nothing or having no way to shower after spending all night blearily unpacking your kitchen.
#2: Pack a cosmetic case as if you're traveling
Next time you move, pretend you're taking a trip to a gorgeous resort and keep all of your mandatories—like your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, contact lens solution, eyeglasses, and medications—nearby instead of relegating them to a box marked "bathroom." If you can reach right into your cosmetics bag, you'll be a way happier relocater. Remember: The last thing you want to do is fumble through a mountain of boxes in the wee hours as you attempt to find some mouthwash.
#3: Keep important papers with you
When you move, you can easily lose sight of important documents. For renters, be sure to keep a printout of your new lease, your renter's insurance documents, tips for your movers, and any insurance you might need to do the actual move (it's technically called a COI or Certificate of Insurance) within reach throughout the moving process. (If you're moving into your first home, stash your inspection sheet, appraisal information, loan information, etc.) Moving is also a great opportunity to consider creating a binder of important documents (i.e. bank info, passport, birth certificate, social security card, etc.) that you'll always have on hand.
#4: BYOJ: Bring Your Own Jewelry
While there's usually zero reason to doubt the trustworthiness of your moving crew, I always prefer to carry my own baubles from place to place. Unless you have a showroom full of favorite pieces, toting your own jewelry ensures that you can at least accessorize your day-after-move outfit even if you can't easily find a change of clothes! (If you're not much of a jewelry person, sub in your other valuables!)
#5: Carry your coffeemaker (and a mug or two)
You may have a deli near your new place but wouldn't it be nicer to make a cup of coffee when you wake up for the first morning in your new home? Not only will your house be instantly filled with that delicious scent, but you'll be happy not to have to run to the nearest café before you begin the big unpack. If java's not your thing, a scented candle, diffuser with your favorite essential oils, or a vase with fragrant flowers will replace new apartment smell with your own personal scent profile—just don't forget to pack a vase.
#6: Stash those cleaning supplies
Finally, you should make sure you have a set of cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, all-purpose cleaner, and a rag or paper towels) at the ready. You're going to want to wipe down all the key germ-y spots at the new place before you unpack—you'll be happy you did!