How moving was done in the old days

When moving houses in modern days, we usually resort to hiring a moving company to help us out, as we might be bringing a lot of stuff with us. 


These moving companies usually come to pick up our furniture and other belongings with a big truck, before they drive to our new home and assist us in carrying all the stuff inside. 


It’s very useful to have motorized vehicles to bring our many hundred kilos of possessions to a new home that might be thousands of kilometers away. It was not always this easy for people to move, however. A flyttebyrå that could come to your house and handle the entire moving process for you was nonexistent. For a very long time, you would have had to do it all on your own. 


So how did people move in the near and distant past, and what challenges might they have faced?

Walking with animals

If we go back to around 10,000 BC, right before the agricultural revolution, the standard way of living was actually to move all the time. Historians refer to people who lived back then as hunters and gatherers, because they would hunt the animals they could find and gather the edible foods they could in a certain area. They lived in small huts that they erected from the available materials, and when they didn´t have any more food to hunt or gather, they would move to a new place. Their mode of transportation was walking, based on what we know today.


Things got interesting about 8,000 BC, however, when the agricultural revolution had set in for real, people started farming fields, and the first animals were domesticated – especially cows. This meant that people could now stay in one place for a long time, which led to less moving. If they wanted to find a better farming place or move for some other reason, they would now be able to use oxen to carry a lot of their belongings. Another fascinating invention that is commonly believed to have arisen around this time is the canoe. Some ingenious individuals from this Mesolithic period might even have thought about using these canoes for moving to a new home on an island or across a canal. If we jump forward to 5,000 BC, when horses had started to be ridden, people could also rest their weary feet by sitting on the horse´s back. 


Around 3,500 BC, the incredible invention of the wheel created a whole new set of opportunities for transporting a lot of goods in an energy-efficient way. Naturally, this development made it easier for people to move, as they could either walk, sit on horseback, or sit in carts and carriages (if there were roads for it) that would take them much further with more convenience. For the next 5,000 years, transportation would mainly happen through the various means of walking, riding on horseback, sitting in carriages, and ever-larger boats. 

Motorized vehicles

The next big invention that revolutionized the way moving is done, was the train in the early 1800s. As soon as enough railroad tracks were made, people were able to move hundreds of miles in just a few days, something that would usually take several weeks when moving through rugged and difficult terrain. The 1800s proved to be quite the industrious year, leading to the development of more and more efficient trains, boats, cars, and in the 1900s, even airplanes. Beyond that point comes all the options we have today.