How to keep track of boxes when moving

How to keep track of boxes when moving More about Ethan Greenfieldby Ethan Greenfieldon Feb 15, 2023.

Believe it or not, the average number of moving boxes required to pack up the contents of one home is 60. That’s right – 60.

Now, the actual number of cardboard containers that YOU will need for your packing needs will depend on important factors such as how many rooms there are in the place you’re about to leave, how many people live there, the square footage of the house or apartment, what type of lifestyle you enjoy, and how many years you have lived there.

And here’s something that you may not even think about until it’s too late: all those brown cardboard boxes look identical. Yes, some of them will be larger than others but on the outside, they will be almost unrecognizable from one another.

And while you may not think this is an issue while you’re packing up your things for a move, it will become a serious problem when you arrive in the new home and start unpacking those indistinguishable cardboard containers.

How do you keep track of your boxes when moving? How do you know what’s packed inside each container so that the unpacking task goes smoothly, without feeling frustrated and even lost at the sight of those piles of unmarked, identical brownish cardboard containers?

Read on to learn the best way to keep track of boxes when moving.

Don’t move any items you don’t really need

What you need to understand from the very start is that it will be much easier to track your boxes when you choose to move fewer things to the new home. It’s simple – fewer items to pack, fewer boxes to transport.

An upcoming move is the ideal time to sort through your possessions and discard the ones that you no longer need – clothes, shoes, books, toys, and so on. Think about this – why would you invest time and money into transporting items that you just won’t ever use again?

As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t bother moving things that you haven’t used in the last 12 months but your home decluttering task should be way more thorough than that.

Ultimately, it’ll be much easier to keep track of the things you do need and you won’t have to spend unnecessary money moving any useless items. As a bonus, your unpacking job will be quicker thanks to the decreased number of moving boxes.

Good to know: How to get rid of things when moving

Make a detailed inventory of your possessions

The next step is to create a detailed inventory of the things you’ve decided to take with you. This way, you will keep track of all the items that you’re moving to the new place, which in turn will enable you to keep track of the boxes when you fill them up.

Making a moving inventory is pretty straightforward. Feel free to use a spreadsheet program such as Google Sheets or MS Excel for this purpose. Also, you can go old-school and use a pen (pencil) and a piece of paper instead.

Make sure you include the following columns in your home inventory sheet:

  • Name of item;
  • Item description;
  • Current condition;
  • Estimated value;
  • Notes.

The detailed inventory sheet will serve as a comprehensive packing list – thanks to it, you won’t forget to pack some of the things you want to take with you. Also, the inventory list will help you organize the packing task in a much more practical and systematic way.

Before closing up each box, you can choose to take a photo of its contents – that is, what’s inside it. Then take a picture of the label (see below) of the container and you’ll have a good photo inventory that can prove to be extremely useful when you need to keep track of your boxes when moving.

See also: How to make a moving inventory

Write the contents and destination room on each box

Without a doubt, the best way to keep track of boxes during a move is to label those containers appropriately.

In fact, labeling your boxes will serve as a guide of what’s inside each packing box so that even when all freshly-delivered cardboard containers look the same from the outside, you will know the contents of each one by just reading what’s written on their side.

Labeling boxes when moving cannot be stressed enough – it’s a very critical step during the packing process that some people choose to skip altogether, either because they think they have infallible memory or they simply underestimate its importance.

Do yourself a favor – write the contents and destination room on each cardboard box you have just packed up. Do this on at least two sides of the container using only a black marker or a set of color markers (see below) for even easier identification once you find yourself in the new place.

Use different colors for different rooms

An upgraded version of labeling your boxes with their unique contents and respective destination rooms is to use color markers for faster identification when you’re about to start the unpacking task.

One good way to keep track of your boxes when moving is to assign a color for each room and then use markers of the corresponding color to label the containers that need to be taken to that respective room.

For instance, if you choose GREEN to be the color for your KITCHEN, then all boxes that contain various kitchen items should be labeled with a green marker. This will certainly speed things up a little and prevent any errors when the boxes are being taken inside the new residence.

In addition to that, you can opt for colored labels to make your moving boxes even more recognizable and noticeable. Keep in mind that while colored moving labels are not a necessity, they will surely add a bit of personal touch to the whole relocation project.

Mark each box with a unique number

Another excellent way to keep track of boxes when moving is to use a number-coded system for labeling.

The idea is simple yet effective:

  • You create a master packing list where you will write down the contents of each container;
  • Designate a unique number to a box you’ve just packed up. For example, write down the number 1 on the first box you pack;
  • Write the destination room on the box as well, for instance – KITCHEN;
  • Mark on your master packing list the number of the box and then its entire contents, plus its destination room. For example, #1, Drinking glasses + Wine glasses, KITCHEN;
  • Take a photo of the master packing list when it’s ready and e-mail the picture to yourself as backup. Keep the original packing list with you so that you know exactly what’s inside each cardboard box by taking a quick look at it when it’s time to unpack the containers.

Read also: What is the best way to label moving boxes?

Use a mobile app

One modern way to keep track of boxes when moving is to use a moving app. Mobile applications are designed to help you cope with the various stages of a house move, and the best moving apps out there offer good home inventory tools that you can use to your advantage.

  • MoveAdvisor. A free state-of-the-art moving app that offers an outstanding home inventory feature that helps you create a complete virtual house moving inventory list of your household for the upcoming relocation.
  • Boxes. Boxes is a moving app that will help you organize and track your moving boxes throughout the move. It works great for storage as well.
  • Sortly. The moving app lets you create a digital inventory for your belongings, thus enabling you to keep track of your boxes when you move.

Must-read: Packing timeline for moving


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