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Moving Day - Tips &Tricks for Pre-move Preparation

The most hectic part about Foreign Service life has to be transition phase between assignments, also referred to as Permanent Change of Station (PCS). More than just a move across town, international moves are a multi-day event that require some preparation before the movers show up if you want things to run smoothly. This post is focused on what to do in the day or two before the movers show up. If moving day is still a few weeks or months out for you, I've also got another post with tips and tricks to downsize before a move in the weeks running up to moving day.

Probably the most important thing to remember about moving day is that the movers will pack everything they can when you're not looking. Trash left in garbage cans is a good example. There are somethings they won't pack, like batteries, candles, and other things that can start a fire or explode (like lightbulbs). The best thing you can do is make sure that the stuff you don't want packed isn't even in the house...put it in your car if you can. If you can't get it out of the house, put it in a room or closet that you can lock or put tape across the door saying something to the effect of "DO NOT PACK THIS ROOM!"

That said, make sure that there is nothing in the Do Not Pack room that you actually want packed. We used our master bathroom, but realized after the fact that we forgot to pull the bathmats out...so we had to pack them in our carry-on luggage.

There are some important things to keep out of the movers' hands:

Any travel paperwork, IDs (passports, etc), keys, check books, purse/wallet, glasses, winter clothing you might need before you get your stuff back (hat/gloves/scarf). I also recommend keeping a Leatherman Multitool and Adjustable Wrench out to help pull out nails/unscrew stuff/cut things/loosen bolts, etc. You can also use the wrench to pound stuff like a hammer. Note: make sure you don't take the leatherman in your carry-on luggage because the TSA will confiscate it. If you have pets, keep enough food and clean-up supplies out as you think you might need before you can rebuild your supply. Pro tip: the disposable tin foil pans you can get from the supermarket work really well as makeshift kitty litter boxes.
It's cheaper than buying a new litter box
Also, keep out some cleaning supplies: trash bags, masking tape, sharpie, cups for water, and maybe a couple of paper plates/forks/knives, paper towels. plastic bags. If you think you'll be cooking at all before you get your stuff, consider bringing a good knife, measuring cup & spoon, and a good can opener.

If you'll be at your place at all post-move, consider leaving yourself some hand soap, toilet paper, a cheap broom, and a couple of trash bags for the final clean out. You can use some thin, firm cardboard as a makeshift dustpan.

So, that's it. Good luck on your move! Here's how our last international pack-out went.

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