Ask any family and they will tell you that when making a move, the movers will help you pack everything. Absolutely everything. Full trash cans, car keys and even your fast-food lunch off the counter are fair game. If you are using movers, remember that they are on a mission to help you completely empty your house. With this in mind, take a proactive approach. With simple organizing and safeguarding, you decide what goes with them and what stays with you.

Organization and Preparation

The key to ensuring essential items don’t make it on the truck (or a ship if you’re moving overseas) is to plan in advance. The checklist below includes items you’ll want to consider transporting yourself.


In order to communicate with friends and family, you’ll need to stay connected with the items below. When your TV is long gone you may want to unwind with some entertainment.

  • Cell phone
  • Laptop/tablet
  • Chargers

Educational Paperwork

If you or your children are currently in school, making the transfer between educational institutions will be easier with certain items in hand. Additionally, be sure to research information at your next school district regarding start age, transfer information, school calendars and homeschool policies (if applicable).

  • Transcripts/school records
  • Diplomas

Legal Documents

Don’t forget to hand carry paperwork that is challenging or costly to replace

  • Drivers licenses
  • Social security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Vehicle title/registration
  • Voter-registration cards
  • Passports

Medical Items/Forms

Don’t get caught without essentials like medications or contact lenses. Boxes can take weeks to ship, and this list can help you stay healthy and gain easy access to medical care.

  • Medications
  • Prescriptions
  • Contacts/glasses
  • Medical records
  • Immunization records
  • Vaccination and medical records for pets


Lastly, if you have items you need to safely and legally transport with you, your family, and your pets during the move, keep them secured on moving day. Anything with sentimental value can be included as well, but use discretion based on how much you want to personally carry.

  • Keys
  • Luggage
  • Car seats
  • Kennel to transport pets/collars/leashes/harnesses
  • Strollers/baby carriers
  • Anything irreplaceable (jewelry, baby books, etc.)

Safe and Sound

After you’ve pulled your special items aside, consider storing them in an accordion folder or a three-ring binder with pockets. Then secure a safe location for your items on moving day. Ideas include an off-limits room, closet or cabinet. If possible, lock the door to your space or block it off with tape and a sign that reads “Do not enter” or “Do not pack” (or both). Another option is to store these items safely in your locked car and keep your keys with you.

Before the moving truck pulls off, ensure they have everything (like curtains off the walls) and be sure to check cabinets, closets, and the attic. You don’t want to get saddled with extra items that can easily be transported by the movers.

It is possible that with all this preparation, Murphy’s Law will still kick in and something may go awry. Do your best to be ready and minimize extra work on your end, and don’t forget your sense of humor. Happy moving!

Share This

Written By

Stephen Bennett

Read more articles by Stephen