What to Pack in Your “First Night” Bag

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Moving can be such a crazy time — it is so easy to forget the most simple things. The old saying “If my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d forget it” rings true in situations like this. Your overnight bag of essentials that you will need immediately upon move-in really should be packed ahead of time. There is nothing like arriving at your new apartment dying for a hot shower and some sleep, knowing you can only get that as soon as you find a towel and your pillow.

There are of course the standard list of items that make everyone’s short list — the ones that should stay with you en route from your old place to the new one (in no particular order):

Toiletries and medications
Toilet paper
Condensed tool kit
Zip-top bags
Cell phone and charger
Paper plates, napkins and silverware
Shower curtain
Water bottles or soda
Easy snacks: granola bars, fruit, beef jerky or trail mix
Valuables: priceless and sentimental irreplaceable items
Important documents: birth certificate, auto title, marriage certificate, etc.
Book or magazines to read
Pen and paper

If you have kids or pets, don’t forget that favorite blanket or toy that they need at night, and your pet’s food and supplies.

I thought I would ask people if they had any brilliant ideas from their experience and decided what a better group to ask, but military families? They move all the time. In addition to the above list, this is the feedback I got:

Tammy from Milton, FL said that she always takes one pot that can also go to the oven. Anything can be cooked or warmed up in a pot if it really had to be. This also reminded me that a can opener may be a good idea if you wanted easy cheap canned goods. She also said she also always takes a folding chair. Waiting for movers, cable guys and telephone installers can be painful without something to sit on.

Jodi from Whidbey Island, WA, said she has her kids pack a backpack of items to entertain themselves. She said she makes sure they are not group games or stuffed animals, but actual individual entertainment. She also said she always brings an all-purpose cleaner, paper towels and trash bags. This is always needed after movers leave, in transit, and to wipe down counters and bathrooms upon arrival.

Sheryl from Virginia Beach, VA, said that they make sure they pack enough laundry detergent in a zip-top baggie for a couple of loads, in case they need to do laundry before they unpack the laundry supplies. She said it also comes in handy if you need to quickly treat a stain in a sink. Sheryl said the next time she moves, she will bring a basic first aid kit. Her husband cut his finger pulling hardware out of walls once, and they had nothing handy to treat the cut.

The easiest way to avoid forgetting things is to start a list. I like to keep two lists going on notepads located throughout my house. I do so well remembering things that I say to myself, “When I get the kitchen, I need to remember to add towels to the list.” Then, when I get to the kitchen, I have forgotten already, and it is not until I take my next shower that I remember. Sometimes this cycle will continue for days. I like to leave a notepad in my bathroom and one in the kitchen. They are always fairly close by and honestly, it shows truly where the best thinking most often takes place.

Please share the items that you remember to put on your list below. If the items that you have on your list were realized with a great story, please include that, too!

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7 Responses to “What to Pack in Your “First Night” Bag”

  1. July 19, 2008 at 4:38 pm, Guest said:

    I would also suggest key rings as an addition to the list; when I first moved in to my current place I had about 6 different keys for my apartment, laundry, mail, etc. and I had nothing to put them on!


  2. July 23, 2008 at 11:26 am, Guest said:

    I am moving into my 1st apartment in 2 weeks. I have had an ongonig list of things to buy for the past month or so. I keep it on a document in my work computer because this is where I do most of my mind wandering. As I have boughten things I bold them on the list and I may think of new things as I purchase certain items.

    I also grew up in a military family, and have moved about a dozen times. The esentials to have readily available are toiletries, TP, Paper towels and paper kitchen utensils. Cleaning wipes are also great for those unforseen things in the bathroom or kitchen sink. Trash bags are also a big plus, or use an empty box from moving to start tossing things or cleaning things. Good luck all you new movers!


  3. July 23, 2008 at 9:51 pm, Guest said:

    condoms. I had my first kid because of forgotten protection…


  4. July 29, 2008 at 3:12 pm, Guest said:

    Don’t forget shower curtain rings. What good is a shower curtain if you don’t have anything to hold it up with :/


  5. August 10, 2008 at 3:49 pm, Guest said:

    I grew up in a military family too and my Mom always had us make beds first.There were 8 kids in my family, so this was a big job, but around bedtime you sure are glad it is done.


  6. August 12, 2008 at 2:14 pm, Guest said:

    If the electricity goes out (or has not yet been turned on by the electric company), be sure to bring a flashlight and/or candles and their holders, and matches. Also bring any prescription drugs you are on, as well as over-the-counter ones (like ibuprofen for headaches and sore muscles, or benadryl for allergies or sleeplessness).


  7. August 12, 2008 at 9:32 pm, Guest said:

    If you’ve got little one’s (Toddlers) it is ESSENTIAL that you pack:
    That fav. toy and lovie
    A pack and play (playpen)
    The obvious diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes, jamee’s….etc.
    Snacks, sippy’s, juice or milk…

    Believe me, on that first day when you’re hauling all your stuff in and the little one is checking out their new home, you’ll be thankful you brought entertainment and food. Plus, if you’re lucky and they just happen to get tired in the midst of the commotion and excitement, where are they going to sleep if their crib isn’t put up yet and the couch isn’t there either? A floor won’t contain them for long!
    Of course, you might be the luckiest of all and have someone to watch the little one while you do all the fun stuff:0) I myself, wasn’t:0(
    Have fun and enjoy!


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