- USPS flat rate boxes and envelopes: Practically free from your local post office, and can be used for both domestic and international shipping. The trick here is to get the packaging routine down: For boxes, make sure to double-tape the bottom (aka the flaps that don't have the to/from address labels) - first layer should go 2/3 of the way over the "box crack" (aka the gap between the two top flaps) towards one side, and second layer goes 2/3 of the way over the second side - that way, the bottom is doubly insulated. You don't have to tape down the sides all the way, but go ahead if you think it helps. The envelopes, on the other hand, are great for sending small items like books, baby hats (aherm) and DVDs... but if you must use those bubble-mailer envelopes, I suggest wrapping your item in the bubble mailer before putting it in the Flat Rate envelope. You'll be surprised by how much postage you'll save with Flat Rate.
Tree-hugger bonus: Most Flat Rate boxes have "cradle to cradle" certification, which makes them easily recyclable without affecting your carbon footprint.
-Good packing tape. In my previous life as a storage clerk, I was armed with heavy duty tape rollers with super reinforcement... but at home, my weapon of choice is Duck EZ Start, which you can get at Wal-Mart for a very reasonable price. It doesn't gum up on the dispenser like the other brands of tape, which makes putting boxes together a snap... plus it's easy to smooth over mistakes. And when you're preparing your fine dinner plates for the give-away pile, just wrap your packing tape around them in an X pattern to keep them together - that makes selling and donating much easier.
- Reclosable/ Ziploc bags. True, it's a great way to keep your makeup and potions together (o hai, fellow bloggers!), but the power of the Ziploc(TM) knows no bounds! I use them for sneaking tea bags or instant cocoa packets into my carry-on, and for keeping my prescription meds together. I even used a gallon storage bag to put together my inflight crafting kit: baby yarn, a lucite crochet hook, and a free pattern.
- Your rattiest casual clothes: You'll be sweating through the nitty-gritty of boxes and suitcases anyway. Pack your finest outfits first to get them out of the way; you'll have time to wear them once you get them organized at your final destination.
- A box of rags: Seriously, you don't need those old T-shirts with the bleach stains and gigantic holes in them, do you? Put them out of their misery by cutting the seams out and and using them instead of paper towels around the house. Bonus points if those clothes belong to your ex, which instantly bestows magic cleaning powers.
-Antihistamines and a dust mask: If you're a pack rat with allergies like me, this just goes without saying.