Packing Tips for Portable Storage Containers

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If you’ve read Part One of this series, you’ll know that we had one week to pack up our house and move to Kelowna.  Impossible, right? That’s what I thought. But when you decide to make Big Life Changes, hang on.  The universe will take you for quite a ride!  We did it, and although I now know that only those who have lost their marbles will commit to doing this, it can be done.  And here’s how.


Despite the fact that you only have a limited number of minutes (yes, we are counting the next week out into minutes), you should stop and pretend that life is normal and celebrate. For us, we were moving cities, even.  So we wanted to say “see ya next time” to our friends and family.  So, naturally, we threw a party. 


packing tips moving binderI started planning how the heck I was going to do this while we were in Mexico.  Then, we got home and the only plan I really needed was — Pack Everything Quickly.  Seriously, if you only have a week, don’t get caught up in planning.  Just DO.  But, do so in a smart, organized way.

Get a little catch-all moving box that carries your scissors, tape, markers and — Your Moving Binder.  This binder keeps you sane, kids.  I created inventory sheets so I knew what was going into each box.  I kept those, my FROGBOX moving labels, moving communication and maps for our destination city in this binder.  It went everywhere with me.  You can download my Moving Inventory Sheets if you like, just write the name of your rooms at the top.


My friend Samantha told me about FROGBOX and of course I jumped all over it, because anyway to make this wild move easier, I’m on it. I had no time to drive all over looking for boxes, so the convienience of delivery (and pick up at the other end) was what initially sold me.  But, once they arrived and I started packing them, they are the most perfect size moving boxes.  Hard frame, light and oh sooooo easy to organize.  I’ll never move again without them.  

I’m not gonna lie, that week was a gong show.  We gave up on our plan for packing, as I said.  But I will offer these tips that really helped us during that week.

– Start a mobile file box and keep all your important documents like passports, banking information, wills etc.  Keep that with you, don’t put it in the moving container.

– Start boxes for important stuff you’ll need right away: Technology, Jackets, Shoes, Purse, Camera — etc.

– Start a BIG pile of extra blankets, scarfs, touques, tea towels, big towels, sheets, bath mats, throw rugs — you are going to need these for packing your storage container later.

– Group like with like — tall things, short things, big things, small things, stuffy things.  This makes it easier when it comes time to load that box.

– Grab some boxes from the liquor store to gather things you would like to donate.

– Use paper plates to stack between plates and other breakables.

– Wrap your breakables in scarves, tshirts, towels and stuff socks in between so they don’t slam up against each other.

– Pack bedding in garbage bags to use as a stuff sack later.  (Thanks, Lisa for this tip!)


Portable Storage Container or Moving Truck?

We decided to go with a portable storage container for our move instead of a moving truck because, um, we have no place to go and needed to store our stuff until we found a place to live.  However, I find moving with portable storage units offer far better value than a moving truck.  We chose BigSteelBox because they offered the best price for the best service from our research.  

Because we booked them from Mexico, it was very hard to get an accurate guestimate of how many storage containers we would need.  We were planning to declutter substantially, so, we only went with one 20′ container, even though this is what BigSteelBox has to say about that… 

There are a lot of variables, but in most cases you can move the contents (excluding appliances) of a 2 to 3 bedroom home in one 20’ BigSteelBox. Homes with more than 3 bedrooms will usually require an additional 10’ or 20’ container.

We needed that extra 10′ container.  We had a 3 bedroom home, plus my office and a handy husband who likes his man toys, I mean tools.  We ended up leaving some stuff in Calgary, temporarily.  (THAT was a stressful mad scramble when we realized it all would not fit.  Thank goodness for inlaws!)

Now, you can start to load.  First –pack all similar size boxes at the back.

Having our FROGBOXs made that easy, don’t they look pretty all lined up in the top picture?  Then we added our other bins, draws etc…  We were left with the perfect space for our mattresses down the side.  See that little hole on the top right?  We stuffed that with a big sleeping bag.  You don’t ever want empty spaces in your storage container.  Every single space was stuffed with something.

portable container packing tips


Second — pack in layers.

We tried to make level layers for stacking with our furniture.  Remember to put down some kind of protection between layers.  We used our old mattress toppers, but there was still some slight rubbing on the furniture at the other end.  Moving blankets would have been better.

pack portable storage unit level


portable moving tips

Third– pack for shifting.

I can’t say it enough — NO EMPTY SPACES.  Stuff every little space with tents, lawn chairs, hockey bags, duffle bags, cushions, bedding, towels — whatever you can find.  The box is tilted for loading and unloading, so make sure everything is packed tight.  The reality is that the deck tipping is at a similar angle to going up a steep hill, and there would be no more shifting of a load than during braking.  Just don’t leave any wide gaps anywhere for stuff to tumble.

Forth — watch for weight.

We thought we had everything packed well with weight, and for the most part, we did a bang up job, without the banging.  However, as you can see in this after shot, there was some caving. Nothing was damaged, but be mindful as you go that you pack heavy boxes under heavy items.

portable moving weight


Lastly — tie down as you go.

We tied down in stages.  If we thought something would tip (like our bed frames) we tied them down.  Most portable storage containers have hooks along the walls you can tie to.  At then end, make sure to tie everything up again.

portable moving strap


Bonus Tip:

Don’t ever, ever pack up your house and move in one week.  That’s completely crazy.



Thanks to BigSteelBox and FROGBOX for supporting our wild and crazy move to the beautiful Okanagan!


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