Moving: How to Pack Up and Relocate Without Going Mad

by Satauna Howery, Clifton Park, New York

In 2005, my family decided to relocate from the Northwest to the Northeast. If you’ve ever hauled your worldly possessions from an old home to some new digs, you know how daunting this task can be! Since most of us will go through such a transition more than once in our lives, here are some tips to make the process easier.

LOSE WHAT YOU DON’T USE. Letting go of material possessions may be hard, but if you’re paying by the pound you’ll want to consider the cost of dragging that old fridge or extra couch with you. Reacquiring things after you’ve settled into your new place may be cheaper, or you may discover you need less than you thought.

LABEL EVERYTHING. You’ll be glad you did when you get to your destination and need to find something that has yet to be unpacked. I used Embossables, which can be purchased from (American Thermoform Corporation), phone: 909-593-6711 or 800-331-3676. These are 8.5 by 11-inch sheets of paper that have a sticky backing and can be cut to any size, giving me the freedom to be as verbose as I wanted when creating braille labels for my boxes. Each label had a box number, the room where the box contents originated and a comprehensive listing of everything the box contained.

I certainly didn’t pack every box myself, but since I’m the only blind person in the family, I did create every braille label. Printed labels containing the same information were taped to the boxes by those who packed them. Be sure to let sighted helpers know that writing down the box contents and putting printed labels on finished boxes is a way to ensure your access to your stuff.

You may choose to pack and label some boxes yourself as time in each frantic day permits. When the packing frenzy is done for the day, have a sighted person read the labels on boxes that you didn’t pack. Create the braille labels for those boxes and help the sighted person create the print labels for the boxes you handled.

In addition to directly labeling boxes, I kept a list of box numbers and their contents on my BrailleNote. When I got to my new space, this list helped me find which boxes had the items I wanted. A printed copy served my husband in the same capacity and also assisted the movers as they carried everything in off the truck.

KEEP CLOSE WHAT YOU NEED. There are items I use daily, such as a slate and stylus, my cell phone and BrailleNote. Your list will be unique to your situation. Ours was very long because we drove cross country and had the moving van come later. Regardless, there will be things you’ll want to have at your fingertips, so take time to think about what these might be and make sure they stay off the moving van. Don’t forget to include print and braille (or electronic) copies of your box list!

Whether you’re moving across the street, across town or across the country, packing up accumulated treasures–and, let’s face it–junk, can be an overwhelming and stressful experience; but with a little forethought and a lot of labeling (and deep breathing), you can groove through your move and land smoothly on the other side.