You’ve interviewed extensively for a new Director of Marketing role, you’ve met the team, you’ve talked it all over with your spouse, and you’ve officially accepted an offer. Now you and your family are relocating to Milwaukee. It’s exciting, and the higher salary is going to help you and your spouse buy the little Vermont cottage you’ve always wanted, but don’t forget you have to navigate through a move first.

Some things to think about and some things to prepare in advance:

What day does the moving company come to pack up your home, and what day will they actually deliver everything to your new home in Milwaukee?

If you have to go a couple days in between, think about every item you and your family will NEED TO HAVE to help you get by for those couple days. Think about clothes and bathroom items for everyone. Think about laptops, charging cords, books and devices to keep the kids entertained. Think about cooking, meals and snacks. Will you need to cook breakfast for two days, and some dinners to avoid eating out for every meal? If so, you may need a frying pan, spatula, paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups, coffee mugs, and a cooler for the contents of your fridge on the last day. Set all of these items aside, and keep them in one pile that’s clearly marked as a Do Not Pack pile, so the movers don’t accidentally pack your necessity items.

Keep your NEED TO HAVE Items to a minimum

Despite what I said about all of the above items you might need, you’ll definitely want to live as minimalists for these few days. That last day when you pack up your cars with your family and the remaining items (or if you’re flying, think just a few suitcases!), you’ll inevitably have more than you thought you would. It’ll be tough to fit it all in your cars, so think ahead and assume you’ll run out of room. That might help you decide what really, truly is critical to keep for those few in-between days.

Be aware of the items a moving company WON’T move

Despite your best minimalistic efforts, know that you’ll inevitably end up with a number of items that the moving company won’t move for you, whether for legal purposes, safety purposes or just avoidance of items are likely to cause damage to everything else, when piled high in a truck.

These will include open bottles of liquids, like oils, vinegars and cleaning products, because these are all very likely to spill onto other boxes during transit; the contents of your fridge and freezer, because they can’t be responsible for spoiled food; and all open and perishable food items in your pantry, like bags of croutons, open containers of bread crumbs, etc. They also won’t pack your wine, because in certain temperatures, wine can freeze and burst, causing obvious and significant damage to other boxes in the truck. Depending on the driver and the moving company, they probably won’t take the contents of your liquor cabinet either.

Document, Document, Document!

Moving companies are well trained to pack your things carefully, with TONS and tons of protective paper (I really do mean tons….you’ll have to make several trips to the dump to recycle all the cardboard and paper as you unpack), but accidents will happen. You’ll likely end up claiming a few items as broken or damaged, so it’s best to document with photos in advance. This is especially applicable for your big ticket items, like TVs, large glass photo frames, appliances, couches, etc. Try to get clear pictures of each item from several angles so, if needed, you can prove later on that the damage was not present before the moving company took possession of your things.

When you arrive at your destination, you should have up to six months to submit claims, since it may take some time to unpack everything and to use your belongings to know whether or not there is damage. As soon as you detect damage, take more photos.

Research your food and shopping surroundings

On move in day, and for a few of the following days, you’ll still be searching for your pots and pans, spatulas, etc., so you may want to pick out a couple nearby restaurants that you and your family can run to when you realize you’re starving after six hours of unpacking. You may also find that you need a couple urgent items like bath tissue and a shower curtain, so knowing where the closest Target or Walgreens is could be critical.

As a final tip, you should always ask your moving company for their own tips and tricks, as well as their disclosure on anything you should be aware of that they won’t move for you. Each moving company will be different, but they should be very informative and helpful if you ask in advance. Good luck!

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