What to Pack in the “Open First” Box

After six cross country moves, and two international ones, we have quite a bit of experience with moving. We have not had a door to door move. This means we are packing up belongings to potentially sit in storage, and we always bring a box, or two, of items we will immediately need on arrival while we wait for things in storage. These are the items we have moved multiple times, so they are tried and true and tested.

Kitchen Items

This one is key. It allows for eating real food, instead of fast food at our destination. We have also had just a kitchen box that we bring into hotels that have kitchenettes so we can have breakfast in the morning before we are on the road, or make a homemade meal the best we can on the stove. Don’t dismiss bringing key kitchen items with you.

  • Griddle – our favorite is the Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Griddle – flat side for pancakes and bacon, griddle side of cooking dinner of chicken and veg
  • Cutting boards – have fresh fruit and veg for snacks to fuel the body and keep everyone’s mood boosted
  • Pots and Pans – we usually bring one pot and one or two pans that stack into each other
  • Cooking utensils – slotted spoon, spatula, flipper – anything you use on an average day
  • Coffee Maker – need I say more
  • Coffee grinds – we always take them in an old peanut butter jar
  • Coffee mugs – we have travel mugs that we utilize – this means we have the mugs for on the road, but also travel well without worrying about them break
  • Salt and pepper shaker
  • Small dish soap and dish cloth – while some hotels have these, at least during the height of the pandemic most if not all did not, so we could not pick it up on the road
  • Roll of trash bags – quite honestly we usually have some leftover from cleaning so we tuck them in the bin so we have them for the next place
  • A kitchen towel or two – drying items, making a drying rack for items you wash, etc
  • Plastic cups, plates, etc – this means we don’t have to buy paper plates once we arrive. If you have camping or travel gear, that works great.


  • Scissors – you would be surprised how often you need scissors
  • Multi-tool
  • Power strip – for plugging in computers, devices that you need when first moving in. This will keep them all in one place and protected.
  • Extension cord – for appliances, computers, other entertainment devices, you would be surprised the need and uses
  • Small First Aid Kit

Personal Items

  • Towels for everyone to shower
  • Shower curtain – while not every home requires one, we have always packed one because we have rented sight unseen and have no idea what the bathrooms have
  • Beach Towels – in case there is a neighborhood pool, and if not we have used them to lay out and just enjoy sunshine and being out of the car
  • Night light – this is key when moving into a new home. When you are stumbling out of your room to find the bathroom and you are used to a different location in your last home, the night light will be useful.
  • Toiletries – these are usually in our suitcase because we are not doing a door to door move. But if you are, pack these and clothes for each person.
  • Medicine – don’t forget everyone’s daily medicines and emergency meds like Tylenol or Motrin for headaches or fever – these are items I keep in the car on the daily.

Consider This

  • Card games or board games – this is useful on the road and in the new home. You won’t have your tv necessarily, unless you are going door to door.
One of our favorite entertainment games

Some people recommend bringing cleaning items like paper towels and cleaning spray, and just haven’t because we would be bringing those items across the country and quite honestly, we would rather have the space in the car for things like board games or books for the family to enjoy at each stop or in the new place. Instead to purchase the cleaning items when we arrive in the new home. We have often spent weeks in a hotel waiting for the home to be ready to move in, or to find a place, so those cleaning items are unnecessary for that move. However, if you are doing a door to door, or know that the place you are moving into is ready, then bringing some with is useful because you won’t have to stop anywhere else.

person in black leather boots lying on brown cardboard boxes
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

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