Think that moving out of a dorm or apartment for the summer will be a breeze? After all, it’s a tiny space. How hard could it really be?

Think again. Between books, clothes, furniture and more, all those things collected over the year add up. By waiting until the last minute or moving without a plan, you’ll only delay summer’s freedom.

Thankfully, moving out of your dorm or apartment doesn’t have to be hard. It only takes preparation, strategy and yes, some extra work.

Here are our top tips to make your summer move easy.

1. Plan in Advance

At the end of the semester, there are a million things to think about. Who wants to add packing up your place to the list?

However, even minimal planning goes a long way when moving out for the summer. Between class, exams and end-of-the-year parties, start planning for your move at least one month before the day arrives.

So, what kind of things will you have to plan? Here are some common questions to answer before moving out of your dorm or apartment.

  • Who’s going to help you move?
  • Where will your stuff be stored over summer break?
  • How will your things be transported?
  • Do you need to sell or donate anything?
  • Can you leave anything behind?

These are only a few of the questions you’ll want to know the answers to before moving out. Otherwise, expect an otherwise flawless move to become a massive headache.

2. Stay Organized

When the only thing on your mind is summer, it’s tempting to rush through your move by randomly shoving your stuff in boxes. However, this leads to more than an inefficient move-out, and a messy move-in next semester. You’ll also increase the likelihood of damaging your items.

Instead, a well-organized system is the key to a smooth, safe move.

First off, you’ll need plenty of cardboard or plastic storage boxes, plus proper packing materials. This includes packing tape, rubber bands, plastic bags and packing paper or bubble wrap.

Then, tackle every room or area separately, even if you’re in the smallest of dorms. Within that space, pack up each category of items one-at-a-time. For example, if you start in the kitchen, begin packing bowls, plates and other dinnerware. Next, move to your cups, then pots and pans, then utensils, and so on.

Once your first space is done, move onto the next area and repeat.

One last packing tip: be conscious about how you’re packing fragile items. Always ensure you’re not placing heavier items on top of breakable ones. In addition, overstuffing boxes also increases the chance of breaking items.

Pro Tip: If you need moving boxes and you’re on a budget, head over to your local liquor store, or department store, and check out back. You can even ask the staff of the store if they have any boxes that they are just going to throw away. You can also check places like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and Craigslist to see if anyone is offering up free moving boxes.

3. Write Out an Inventory

As you fill up each box, write out exactly which items are inside before you tape it up. Label each box with descriptive names like winter clothes, kitchen utensils, textbooks, etc. Then, write those exact same names on each list. Hold onto them as you’ll need them in the fall.

When you unpack all your stuff this fall, you’ll know exactly what’s inside each box before you even open them.

You can also use your phone to take photos of what’s within every box. Just be sure these photos document everything inside the box, plus the name of the box itself. Otherwise, you’ll have photos of all your things, but no way to know what box they’re hiding in.

Pro Tip: If you want to keep an extremely detailed list of everything that’s in your boxes, use Google Sheets (or your preferred spreadsheet application). Just pop a number on the outside of each box, and list out the corresponding items within the spreadsheet. This way you’ll know exactly what is in each box without having to remember. I can also help if you decide to pack different categories, or rooms, of things in the same box.

4. Where Will You Store Your Stuff?

Even when you live within a tiny space, items pile up over the year. Now, your belongings—once easily stored in a corner of your parent’s basement—need an entire basement of their own.

Now what?

There are many options available for students to store their things for the summer—all with different pros and cons.

If you plan ahead, it never hurts to ask family and friends if they have room in their home to leave your things. However, with this method, there’s a higher level of unpredictability.

What happens to your stuff if they suddenly have to move out, or they need that space for something else? Can your belongings handle the unpredictable temperatures of the space? How trustworthy are they—and the people they let into their homes? Free always sounds better, but first, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk.

Another option is to use a professional summer storage service. If you choose a fully licensed and insured company, count on your belongings staying safe, secure and climate-controlled while you’re out-of-town.

Today, there are many different storage services available, though not all allow for short-term contracts. Students also have choices for self-service and full-service, on-demand storage.

Self-storage facilities are the traditional buildings where clients deliver and unload their own belongings. With full-service or on-demand storage, a van arrives at your door to pick up your stuff and brings it to the facility, and will hand deliver your items when you decide you need them back.

No matter what service you choose, book your storage space well in advance. As summer approaches, facilities quickly fill up. Don’t end the school year with your precious belongings packed up—but nowhere to put them.

Pro Tip: If you only have a few things you need to store for the summer while you are on break, it doesn’t make sense to pay for an entire storage unit. Consider using an On-Demand storage service like Livible to store just the items you need. This will save you some money and time as they will pick up the items from you and deliver them back when requested.

5. Ask For Help

No matter the size of your dorm or apartment, moving out of your dorm is hard work. That’s why it’s always smart to ask for a helping hand. Not only will this make the moving process faster—it’s also safer for you and your belongings.

Make sure your potential moving partners commit well in advance to the move itself. Otherwise, you might find yourself empty-handed as friends get wrapped up in finals, end-of-the-year festivities or have already left campus for the year.

If you’re worried that your friends would rather be out celebrating over helping you move, use our favorite trick—offer them free pizza and their favorite beverages as compensation for their time. Soon, you’ll have eager moving partners in no time.

6. Take Before and After Photos

Once you’ve completely moved your belongings out and scrubbed the place to perfection, take some detailed photos of your clean space. This includes remaining furniture, floors, blinds, sinks, walls, etc.

Hopefully, you won’t experience problems when asking for your deposit back. But just in case, these photos will provide proof that you indeed left your dorm or apartment in the exact condition you state on your check-out sheet. If there’s any dispute, show them these photos and violà—proof of an impeccable dorm or apartment.

Pro Tip: It’s also smart to take photos of your empty apartment or dorm before you move in. This will also help if the school, or landlord, tries to claim that you damaged something during the course of your stay there. With the before photos, you can prove that the damage was already there when you moved in.

Moving out of your dorm, or apartment, at the end of the semester is always bittersweet. It signifies that the school year is over and you’re going to have to go back and live with your parents for 3-month, but it also means that you’re one step closer to obtaining that sought after degree you’ve been working towards.

Don’t let the stress of moving out get in the way of studying for your tests and finishing out the semester. The most important thing is to wrap up the end of the year on a positive note, which is why planning ahead for your move will benefit you greatly.

Using these simple tips for planning and organization will ensure you the best possible experience when packing up your dorm, or apartment, to head home for the summer.