Packing Survival Guide
Tips from those who have lived through the experience
There is no shortage of advice on moving. There are books devoted to the subject, ideas on the Internet and most moving companies offer tips. But there’s nothing like benefiting from the wisdom of those who have gone before you. That’s right, people who have made moves and are still coherent enough to talk about it.
The following 10 tips were culled from everyday people who gave their best advice in chat rooms and Internet forums.
- Start early. By far the top advice offered. Packing takes longer and is more difficult than most think. By starting to pack early, perhaps doing a room a day, there will not be the frantic rush at the end. You will also be more organized. When you run out of time or are burned out by doing everything at the end, you will throw the unpacked stuff in a box, tape it up and send it on its way.
- Think thin. Go through your belongings and decide what you really need and want to keep. Get rid of anything that you haven’t used in a year or so, unless it has sentimental value. Movers charge by weight, so the lighter the load the more money you save. Plan to go through everything at least twice, with a week or more break between. You should find a lot to cull on your first pass. After getting used to the idea, do it again a couple weeks later.
- Label everything. Don’t just label each box with the room in which it belongs. Write down the contents. You will be glad you did when you try finding the hair dryer or a specific kitchen utensil. Bonus hint: Don’t overuse the “miscellaneous” label. Otherwise you’ll get to your new home and have a dozen boxes of miscellaneous and almost no idea what’s in them.
- One at a time. Stay organized and pack one room fully and then move on to the next. If you don’t, you’ll end up with boxes full of miscellaneous items from several rooms.
- Gang box. Put smaller items in small boxes and put small boxes into a bigger box. Small boxes are more easily lost or damaged.
- Take it with you. Any personal financial information and important papers should be taken with you or shipped to you by family or a friend after your move-in. Identity theft is one reason, but so is the difficulty in replacing important documents, recreating bank statements or losing passports.
- Value valuables. Most moving companies would rather you not ship your highly valuable items, such as jewelry, artwork and collections. Many times expanded moving insurance through the carrier or a third party will be needed.
- Essential fact. Always have a box for essentials that you will want or need when everything is delivered to your new home. Remember: Last on, first off. So make sure the well-marked essentials box is the last one loaded onto the truck. Some recommendations: Towels, soap, toilet paper, sheets, coffee maker, drinking cups, eating utensils, pens and notepad.
- Inventory. Make a list of every item/box that goes on the moving van and take it with you. Have a family member mark the boxes and items as they come off the truck. This is especially important if your belongings will be transferred from the truck to storage before being delivered. If a box is missing, lost or left behind it could be months before it’s realized. The mover must do the inventory for an interstate move. Note any damage at the time of delivery.
- Think outside the box. For items you think will be stored in the attic, garage or closet at your next home, consider getting inexpensive plastic storage bins. The home improvement and general merchandise stores usually carry them. This will save you on buying extra boxes and unpacking them when you get to your new home. Also, for stuffed animals, towels and other soft items, consider using large trash bags, they are much cheaper than moving boxes.