“Where’s the toilet paper?”: Packing an Essentials Box

Ever been caught in an awkward situation without any toilet paper? Many of us have at some point. One of the times that your chances of this go up is when you’re moving. Why is that? Because everything you have gets packed up in boxes and nobody thinks about how there are some things that are needed after the packing is over and before the unpacking begins.

Enter an essentials box. You can save yourself and your family members from having to ask, “where’s the toilet paper?” by designating a spot for it and other items that will undoubtedly be missed once they’re gone. This article is about what kinds of things you should pack into an essentials box to use before and after a move.

An Essentials Box Defined

Before we get into what should be in one of these, let’s just touch a little bit on what it is. This is a box, or some other kind of container, that you fill with everyday items that you’ll need in your home when the packing is done, but you’re still there, or in your new home when the unpacking isn’t done, but you’re already there.

The items that go in this box are ones that we usually take for granted. It’s stuff you use all the time, but you don’t think about very much. It’s there when you need it, so you just assume it always will be, and you won’t miss it…until it’s gone.

If you’re going to ship your essentials box with your other stuff, you want to make sure that it’s the last box that goes into the truck so that it can be the first box that comes out at the new place. Also, make sure you clearly label it. You can also choose to just take this box with you and transport it yourself, especially if you’re going to be at the new house long before your shipped goods get there.

Now that you know what it is, let’s get into what you need to put in it.

Toilet Paper

We’ll start here because of our intro example. You need toilet paper in your home while it’s being packed up, and you also need to have it as soon as you get to your new place. This isn’t something you want to do without. It is essential enough that you don’t want to have to do without it at all. Just pack a couple of rolls to get you through until you have time to make a run to the store.

Paper Towels

Moving can be messy. There will inevitably be things that get spilled and need cleaning up. It also takes a long time to pack and unpack, so people have to eat. Food equals messes and paper towels equal the cleanup. Throw a roll of these versatile wipes into the box also.


You, your family, and even your movers will likely want to wash their hands. Without soap, you can’t do that properly. Get a bottle of hand soap with a pump on it that you can stick next to the sink. In fact, you might want to throw two in there because it helps to have one by the kitchen sink and one in the washroom.


You may think you don’t need to add any of these items to your essentials box because you’re packing some in a suitcase that’s going with you in a vehicle or traveling with you on a plane. We still recommend that you add toiletries into your essentials box because you don’t know what could happen on your long road trip across the country. You might leave your toothbrush at a hotel. Your luggage could get lost on a flight, too. Put toiletries for the family in your essentials box, so you don’t have to worry about having them at your new home.

Trash Bags

Moving creates a lot of trash (or recycling). In any case, you need somewhere to put discarded paper and other packing materials. You’ll also have all those paper towels to throw somewhere. Either throw a box of trash bags in your box or a stash of bags so you’ll have them to use when you get to your destination.

Sheets and Blankets

You should have some bedding in your essentials box. When you get into your new house and the beds arrive, it’s not a given that you’ll know where your sheets are packed. For all you know, your household goods delivery won’t get there until 5 in the evening.

The hours will pass, and you’ll be left digging through box after box looking for the sheets that you haven’t the slightest idea for where they are. If you have packed sheets in your essentials box, you can calmly get them out, put them on the bed, and get the rest that you’re going to need before the unpacking frenzy starts the next day.

You can also use this stuff to make a palette on the floor should you be stuck without beds for a night or two. It will ensure you have some kind of comfort in the event you have no furniture right away.

Paper Plates and Plastic Silverware

You’ll need these items to eat your meals and snacks before and after your move. Even if your belongings show up, it might be a couple of days before you have your kitchen squared away with all of the dishes and utensils you need to eat with. Plasticware and paper plates will give you something to use in the meantime.

Make Inconvenience a Little More Convenient

Moving is full of aspects that make your life very inconvenient for a period of time. You can make some of it a little bit easier to deal with by packing an essentials box. Start with the items on this list, but then add whatever things you can think of that you will miss. Put in the things that you deem to be essential.


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Moving Tip

  • Get rid of the junk! Get rid of anything you don’t need or want, it will make packing that much easier and save you money.The more stuff you have will increase the time and or weight of the move and will cost you more money!
  • Do not move jewelry, money, coin collections, etc. Keep these items in your possession.
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