Moving is an experience that evokes tons of different emotions. Perhaps you’re moving in with a significant other, and you’re excited to take the next step. Maybe you’re (finally) finishing college and relieved that those all-night study sessions are over.

Whatever your reason for relocating, the moving process shouldn’t be stressful, it marks the beginning of an exciting new experience, and you shouldn’t start your new journey on a negative note. Keep reading for actionable tips for a stress-free move:

Start Early

This is the single most important tip.

Nothing is efficient or stress-free when you’re rushing. Imagine trying to find your house key on your key ring on a beautiful, warm, sunny day. Now imagine trying to find your house key on your key ring at 10 degrees, during an ice storm, with hailstones flying like bullets towards your face. In the first situation, you’ll almost certainly find that key in half the time and with none of the stress.

Don’t leave packing until the last minute. You’re always going to be busy, tired after work, or more interested in something else. Start with the things you rarely use or have a lot of. If you’re moving in the summer, for example, start with your winter clothes. If you have 15 coffee mugs, pack up 10.

Avoid Moving Perishable Food Items

In the weeks leading up to your move, try to buy non-perishable foods or foods you know you’ll eat right away. Moving perishable food items can be a pain, even if you’re lucky enough to have access to the old house and the new house on the same day. Buy ice packs and coolers to transport any food that needs to be transported.

Don’t Bring What You Don’t Need

If something has been packed in a box since the last time you moved, unpack that box before you move again and offload whatever is in it. Sell or donate anything that’s complete and in good condition. Look for organizations that’ll accept less-than-great items to re-purpose. Recycle or trash anything else that’s not worth moving.

Buy Quality Moving Supplies

Quality supplies are a must. No matter how well you’ve packed and taped your boxes, if your boxes are flimsy or your tape isn’t sticky, you’ll run the risk of having the bottom fall out. Stock up on boxes that are intended for moving, quality tape, and plenty of markers.

Kennel Pets or Keep Them in a Closed Room

When you’re carrying boxes to or from your house, it may be easier to keep the front door open. Take appropriate measures to make sure your pet doesn’t seize the opportunity and run.

Label Everything

Most moving boxes have a spot where you can note its contents. Do not ignore that spot. Each box should, at the very least, be marked according to which room it came from. If you want to take it a step further, make an inventory of what’s in each box. It’ll take a bit of extra time, but it’ll save you a lot of stress when the time comes to unpack.

Professional Moving Companies

If you’re not able to recruit friends and family to help you for free, hire professional movers to help you get from A to B. Services vary - some companies offer nearly full-service moves, they’ll pack and wrap furniture, load it into a truck, drive to the destination, and unpack. Others will just load, transport, and unload. Some only provide the truck.

Put a Box Aside for Your Move-Day Essentials

Everything that couldn’t be packed until move day should fit into one box. Your move day essentials box should include things like toiletries, snacks (you’re going to need the fuel to get through move-day), towels, and a few essential tools (just in case).