If you're anything like me, the thought of efficiently packing ANYTHING is daunting, and seems like it should be left to the professionals. I’'e been traveling across the United States with my partner for the better part of the year, and have learned a thing or two about how to pack.
There are two of us traveling in a compact sized SUV, and must fit all of the necessary belongings for a life on the road into this relatively small space. At the start of this trip, I couldn't even figure out how to fold the tent back up to fit in the bag. Packing items efficiently seemed impossible.
My boyfriend, also known as the Tetris Wizard, has helped teach me the most important aspect of efficient packing: patience. If the first arrangement of items doesn't work, try again.
I have always struggled with patience, I have a natural tendency towards anger and outrage (I like to blame it on my red hair, but that's another story) and thus, am one to quickly lose my patience. However, if you are struggling to fit all your belongings into your self storage unit, take a step back, take some deep breaths, and just know that if you see empty space (look to the spaces in between furniture pieces or all that unused space between your belongings and the ceiling) you can efficiently stow away more items.
So, how does this translate to maximizing the space of your self storage unit? Some of these tips may seem simple or rather intuitive, but they are important and will give you the maximum amount of space:
Pack the biggest, heaviest items first (shelving, couches, or tables)
- Shelves and tables are great to pack as you can use them in your unit as valuable horizontal space
- Utilize corners - you have two walls to support your items and this will allow you to use the often unused vertical space
- Pack the unit from back to front (using as much vertical, or ceiling space, as possible)
Consider compressing non-breakable items (blankets and clothes), you can then use the compressed items as cushioning for fragile items or sharp edges/corners
- Vacuum sealers are inexpensive and best of all, small and compact!
Save the lightest and most breakable items for the very last pack
- You can still pack items high up, just ensure that fragile items (such as a bag of light bulbs) aren't teetering off any ledge
It may be tempting (I am 100% guilty of this) to just throw everything you can into the unit as quickly as possible. However, if you take your time and are methodical about how you pack your storage unit, you will ensure you are getting the most out of your space, and be doing so with minimal risk of damaging your items.
Before moving upholstered items or mattresses, purchase plastic coverings (often available for purchase at your self storage office) for furniture. The cost is negligible compared to the exponential protection your items receive once wrapped up safe and sound. A quick note on the mattress coverings - they are much easier to apply with two (or more) people. The Tetris Wizard was able to wrap two queen size mattress by himself, but he did struggle with the task for an unreasonable amount of time (I would like to go on the record of saying I was at work while he did this, I was not ignoring his cries for help). The mattress coverings also make the mattress quite slippery and difficult to maneuver, so again, two people are recommended for the moving and packing process as well. One last bit about the mattresses: we found the best results were had by packing them flat against the wall lengthwise, giving you ample room to store lighter items and boxes on the newly created, side-mattress surface.
If you have a large number of fragile items, the best thing to do is wrap them sufficiently in packing material (including any sheets, blankets, or old sweaters) and place them in a box. Boxes are great to stack high up in the corners. Just ensure the bigger boxes are at the bottom, and smaller, lighter boxes are at the top to avoid any box avalanches.
Whether due to patient repetition, my constant proximity to the Tetris Wizard, or perhaps out of pure necessity, I have now become a self-proclaimed Tetris Master Apprentice: I can fold up the tent in record time with extra room in the bag for spare items (such as our lantern and hammer), and am able to more efficiently pack our boxes so that the lids aren't bulging in protest. These skills, as I like to think of them, will come in handy when we return to Southern California, settle down for the winter, and repeat the process all over again next year: rent a storage unit, pack the car, and take off for a few, perhaps indefinite, months. I'm just hoping in the next round of moving our things to the storage unit I'll actually be able to help my boyfriend pack the unit rather than just sit there and be the cheerleader.
If you are either currently struggling with packing everything into your unit, or perhaps just dreading that move-out date, never fear. With patience and methodical placement of your items, you can truly fill up your self storage unit with no problem.
Michelle is a self-storage enthusiast and freelance writer who enjoys traveling the world. An expert at getting the most out of the self-storage experience, please check back regularly for more about Michelle’s adventure and how self-storage helped her dream of travel come true.