Don’t set yourself up for failure on moving day. By planning ahead, packing strategically and hiring outside help, you can avoid headaches when the U-Haul truck pulls up. Here we break down 7 common moving mistakes and offer tips on what to do instead.

1. Forgetting to make a moving truck and/or elevator reservation well in advance

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This seems like an obvious mistake to avoid, but you’d be surprised how many people wait until the last minute to book a moving truck or the elevator in their condo building. June, July and August are the most popular months to move, but the first and last day of any month is bound to fill up quickly. It’s best to begin searching for a moving company two months before your moving date. If you need to book an elevator for the day of your move, remember that other residents in your building may also be moving in or out. In order to get the time slot you want, it’s best to speak to a building manager or concierge as early as possible.

2. Not comparing quotes from multiple moving companies

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It’s tempting to say yes to any moving company that’s available on the first of the month, but it’s important to compare estimates to make sure you’re getting a fair price. While many moving companies will provide quotes online or over the phone, if you’re planning a serious move (like packing up a four-bedroom home and relocating your family across the country), you may want to request that an employee of the moving company visit your home for an in-person inspection.

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3. Failing to cut down on clutter before you begin packing

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Moving unnecessary clutter from one home to another will not only hurt your back, but your wallet. Prior to packing, sort through all of your belongings, dividing them into three piles: keep, donate and sell. You can earn some serious cash to offset your moving expenses by selling items you don’t need on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Letgo or OfferUp.

4. Labeling your boxes incorrectly

Photo: Kelsey Pudloski

Every moving advice article on the internet will tell you to label the contents of your boxes and to list the rooms where they should ultimately end up. But here’s another trick I picked up during my move from Toronto to Los Angeles last fall: number your boxes. This is absolutely crucial if you’re using a non-traditional moving service (I shipped most of my belongings with Amtrak). When the boxes arrive at your destination, you’ll want to make sure everything is accounted for — and numbering them is foolproof.

5. Neglecting to measure doorways, stairwells, elevators and large furniture items

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The couch is often the last thing to get packed away. When you’re up to your elbows in bubble wrap, you need a spot to crash and maybe cry to “Leaving on a Jet Plane” one more time. But just because the couch fit through the door frame of your current apartment, doesn’t mean it will squeeze into your new pad with ease. Be sure to measure the dimensions of all the tight spaces the couch, or any other large furniture item, will have to pass through, including doorways, stairwells, hallways and elevators. This is also advisable if you’re ordering new furniture that’s being delivered. Don’t end up like Ross Geller!

6. Forgetting to schedule a sitter for your kids and/or pets

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You know how your dog starts acting weird as soon as you take your suitcase out of the closet to pack for vacation? Well, imagine how anxious they must feel when you begin packing up the entire house, including their favorite squeaky toy. Sometimes pets even run away on moving day — if someone leaves the door ajar and your cat escapes, moving day will become even more stress-inducing. Ask a friend to take care of your pet for the day or drop them off at a boarding facility.

Additionally, if you have young kids, it’s best to leave them with a sitter or family member. Seeing the house they once called home completely empty can be upsetting to them. Parents may be easily distracted by moving tasks and leave their kids unsupervised, resulting in injury or damaged household goods.

7. Not packing an overnight bag with all the essentials

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Don’t make the mistake of packing away your medication or pajamas in an unlabeled box. Prepare an overnight bag — or, honestly, a weekender bag — with all the essentials: toothbrush, deodorant, a change of clothes, etc. Each family member (including pets) should have their own, making it easy to settle in once you arrive at your new home. You may also want to include cleaning supplies, snacks and drinks, important documents, toilet paper and a small toolkit.

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