On the Move with MS: Packing Will Never Spark Joy

Note: This advice is mostly for ambulatory people with MS. If you use mobility aids, you’re better off making others do the heavy lifting!

Seven weeks lagged between the moment we put our home up for sale and the day we got the keys to our new place.

The reality: we needed to pack, and our house would show nicer with less clutter. After 20 years, clutter happens! Nonessentials were the first things packed, literally the day after signing papers and listing our house.

Consider these tips for packing and unpacking to help smooth the move if you have MS.

Be box savvy

We found stores now break their boxes down the moment they empty them. This makes more work for those of us moving.

I’m not lazy... MS and RA cause hand pain and grip and dexterity issues. It also takes a lot of time and energy to hunt for boxes.

Here’s a tip: Go to local stores in the earlier morning and catch the employees unpacking new stock before they break down boxes.

Or, call ahead: You can sometimes put “dibs” on specific kinds of boxes.

Which are worth hunting for? Those that ship fruit and bottles. Sturdy fruit boxes are lidded, making stacking easy; the bottle boxes safely pack glassware or, of course, bottles.

Also, check in with freecycling and social media “Buy Nothing” groups. You can request assembled boxes with an ISO (“in search of”) post. You can go this route for unloading used boxes, too.

Reuse the reusable

The reusable plastic or wicker containers I own became a huge help to me in the move.

As a writer, the proposition of moving my beloved library didn’t spark Marie Kondo-like joy. Meanwhile, I discovered the small plastic storage bins I use in my pantry could pack up to two dozen books.


Once we had the keys to the new house, I transferred my entire pantry, emptied these bins into the new kitchen, then reused them to transfer my library. The bins were easy to carry and stacked nicely in my car. It took several trips, but they spared us a lot of pain.

I also reused larger plastic and wicker containers for lightweight items: blankets, framed pictures, personal hygiene items, shoes, small kitchen items. They’re waterproof, easy to clean, stackable, and sturdy.

Wrap it up?

For breakable items, wrapping is all the rage.

I didn’t. Why not? Too much work.Fatigue contributes to my MS, so naturally, I look for ways to simplify tasks. Anyway, wrapping hurts! I wasn’t traveling far. Instead, I cushioned glassware and dishes in kitchen and bathroom towels.

I also used the book bins to carry smaller fragile items without wrapping, gently placing them flat in the car strategically to prevent sliding. Nothing broke, and I didn’t end up with packing materials to discard.

Dress yourself in garbage bags

Well, not literally. But moving clothes is hard work! To make impromptu “garment bags”:

  • Grab a small section of clothes by the hanger tops.
  • Bundle together with a rubber band around the hanger necks.
  • Poke the collected hanger tops through the bottom seam of a large garbage bag; pull it over the clothes, et voila! Instant garment bag!
  • Once transported, pull the garbage bags off the tops of each bag, remove the rubber bands, and hang up the clothes.

To transport, I broke down my car’s back seat then layered my impromptu garment bags “head to toe,” reachable from the trunk or side doors. After two trips, I’d transported my entire closet, including coats.

Mark it up!

With every solid box with a lid hiding its contents, it’s imperative you write two things:

  1. What room it’s for
  2. A list of important contents (i.e., medications, TENS unit, cane, phone charger, contacts, etc)

Trust me, you’ll never remember otherwise. This makes unpacking so much easier!

Marie Kondo Is not wrong

There’s no good reason to transport stuff you don’t want or need. After 20 years of life in one house, my kids have flown, leaving behind Stuff. It's now past time to do the empty nest deep clean.

Things I thinned before I packed include my library, my wardrobe, and sporting goods. And it felt great!

I wouldn’t recommend making too many deep-cleaning decisions while packing, however. Packing can inspire decisions fueled by emotion rather than logic. Don’t go overboard and regret it later. We tossed my seed-starting kits in a hasty packing session; I’ll need to buy them again!

There’s no easy-peasy way to get the packing and unpacking done. It sucks! But if you can simplify the process and spare yourself pain and stress, go for it.

Up next: Settling in

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