What to pack in an open-first box?

How to pack an open first box.
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Once the last of the moving boxes is loaded onto the truck and the movers disappear into the distance with all your earthly possessions, you will probably feel exhausted and downhearted. Bereft of any household conveniences, you may find it difficult to relax and regain your energy and optimism after the arduous moving preparations and the strenuous moving day. What you need is a refreshing shower, a healthy meal, and a good rest – whether in your empty old home (if you are going to stay there for another day), or in your empty new one (if you are going there right away). You cannot provide any of these things, however, without some basic necessities.

Therefore, you need to take adequate measures when packing your items for moving and set aside a box or two with absolute essentials that will help you survive for some time without the rest of your belongings. Also known as “Open First” boxes, these survival kits contain all the lifesavers you will desperately need on moving day and during the first couple of days in your new home.

What’s an essentials box?

An essentials box for moving contains some useful items that will enable you to provide basic meals, to produce an extra set of clothes for each family member, to present some entertainment options, and to even deal with minor emergencies. It should be the last box to pack when moving out of your old home, but you are strongly recommended to set aside all the items to be put in it well in advance (while going through your belongings to organize and prepare them for moving, you will be able to identify the specific items you can’t do without even for a day).

So, how to pack a survival kit for the first days in your new home? There are some crucial factors to consider when preparing your “open-me-first” box.

What to pack in an open-first box?

When packing an essentials box for moving, have in mind that your shipment may be delayed for some reasons and you may need to spend a week or more at your new place without your belongings. So, make sure your survival kit contains everything you may need for several days. Create your moving essentials box list before you actually start packing your belongings for shipment to avoid placing an item that you are going to need on moving day or during the first days in your new home at the bottom of a moving box you may even not have access to.

SEE ALSO: Common packing mistakes

Here are some useful items to consider putting inside your open first box:

Kitchen items

Whether you feel relieved, tired, anxious, or upset with your moving endeavor, you are going to be hungry. To be able to prepare a meal and replenish your energy, you will need:

  • paper plates and plastic utensils for a makeshift first-night dinner;
  • a few mugs and cups;
  • paper towels (extremely useful for various purposes);
  • non-perishable food – a jar of jam or peanut butter, some pasta and pasta sauce, or a bag of bagels may also come very handy;
  • bottled water;
  • light snacks and drinks to get you through moving day – it’s a good idea to place them in a cooler and bring along some refreshments not only for yourself, but for the moving crew as well.

If you are traveling in your car, consider taking some small kitchen appliances with you as well – a coffee maker (and coffee, of course), a toaster or a small toaster oven, or whatever you use on a daily basis.

Bedroom items

You will need a good night’s rest after the exhausting moving day, so make sure you have:

  • a set of bed linen for every family member – sheets, pillows, pillow cases, etc.;
  • enough blankets for everyone (according to the weather conditions);
  • an alarm clock (unless you are going to use your mobile phone’s alarm feature);
  • a set or two of clothing for every member of the family.

Bathroom items

To be able to wash your weariness away and refresh yourself at the end of the long moving day, you will need:

  • hand soap and hand towels (you can use paper towels instead);
  • toilet paper;
  • shower gel, shampoo, and hair conditioner;
  • bathroom towels;
  • blow dryer;
  • shower curtain and bath mat.


It is of paramount importance to have easy access to some essential medications at any given moment of the strenuous moving process. Under no circumstances should you forget your:

  • prescription medicines;
  • first-aid kit;
  • allergy meds;
  • pain relievers;
  • hand sanitizers;
  • glasses or contact lens and contact lens solution.

Other essentials

Other must-haves include but are not limited to:

  • Children’s items – if you are moving with children, you need to keep them safe and happy all the time. So, make sure you have enough of their favorite snacks and beverages, a change of clothes for the kids, and all the necessary medications in your open-first box. It is also imperative to pack some of their books, toys, portable games, pens and pencils, and stuffed animals to keep them occupied during the trip to your new home and in the time it takes to settle in. Of course, if you have a baby, you will need to bring along a bag of specialized baby items as well;

SEE ALSO: How to move house with a baby

  • Pets’ items – don’t forget your pets’ water and food bowls, as well as their favorite toys, bedding, and other supplies that your animal friends will need during the trip and immediately after arriving in your new home. A specially designed pet carrier and adequate pet food are also a must, of course;
  • Basic tools – a knife, a set of screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, a hammer, and any other hand tools you find useful, as well as a flashlight, a measuring tape, a can opener, a bottle opener, scissors, batteries, light bulbs, and whatever other lifesavers you can think of;
  • Cleaning supplies – rags and sponges, garbage bags, a bucket, a broom, a mop, an all-purpose cleaner, dishwashing liquid, and other supplies you are going to need in order to give your old property a good final cleaning, as well as to keep your new one in good condition while unpacking your household goods.

Personal items

Every family member should pack an overnight bag of personal essentials, such as:

  • Personal documents – passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, credit cards, medical records, school records, professional certificates, etc.;
  • Personal hygiene items – toothbrush and toothpaste, hair brushes, cosmetics, and any other toiletries used on a daily basis;
  • Electronic devices with their charges and adapters (if applicable) – phones, laptops, tablets, cameras, players, and any other electronic gadgets that can be used to stay in touch, find information, or entertain yourselves;
  • Books, games, or any other comfort items you’d rather not part with;
  • Some cash.

The list can go on for quite a while – what matters is to include all the things you’ll need on moving day and during the first couple of days in your new home so that you don’t have to rummage through all the boxes for a specific item (that is, if your shipment has already arrived).

SEE ALSO: Moving day essentials

What to know when packing an essentials box?

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when packing your essentials box for moving:

1) Pack liquids in a sealed plastic container first to avoid leakage and staining.

2) Do not seal your essentials box until the last minute – you may need to take something out of it or to put something more inside at any given moment.

3) Label your survival kit properly and keep it separate from your other boxes, so that it doesn’t accidentally get loaded on the moving truck.

4) Make sure your open-first box travels with you to ensure that it will arrive at your new home when you do.

5) Keep your valuables with you all the time, whether you put them in your essentials box or not – jewelry, family heirlooms, moving-related paperwork, tickets, keys, and other very expensive or very important items should not be loaded into the moving truck.

SEE ALSO: What items to move yourself

6) Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and keep it at hand, just in case.

Here are some more good ideas on how to prepare a survival kit when moving house:

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