What's a good way to ship a medium amount of stuff?
June 6, 2005 9:23 AM   Subscribe

What's a good way to ship a medium amount of stuff? For large moves, there are moving companies; for a few items, I can just use the mail, UPS, etc. I have a few small pieces of furniture and a dozen or so boxes of books to ship from Seattle to San Antonio. Any ideas?
posted by iconjack to Grab Bag (10 answers total)
Call the moving companies & see if they have larger shipments with extra space. They should do this all the time.
posted by Pressed Rat at 9:38 AM on June 6, 2005

Rent a U-Haul and hire a driver.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:39 AM on June 6, 2005

Problems with trying to get extra space on a moving company's truck: 1) they charge exorbitant fees for small moves; 2) you have little control over when your stuff will arrive; 3) all but the biggest (and more expensive) movers have a very high shadiness quotient.

I used this company a year ago to move my belongings from San Francisco to Ann Arbor. They take your possession(s), pack them up securely in cardboard and bubble wrap, place them on a palette, and ship it freight. I found them to be reliable and quite reasonable when compared to larger moving companies, who are generally loathe to take on small jobs (thus the exorbitant fees). My stuff arrived intact and in good condition.

Caveat: they contract with local shippers on both ends to deliver your stuff, which in my case meant a delay because the local Ann Arbor folks dragged their feet; it also means that you have to pay extra if you want inside delivery (e.g., more than just dropping it off on the sidewalk in front of your place).

Bonus: If you pack it yourself or drop it off/pick it up at their distribution center, it reduces the cost.

See also: this thread.
posted by googly at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2005

You can ship things via Amtrack for not too much money.
posted by gokart4xmas at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2005

There are several companies who do something similar to what googly mentioned. They show up with a truck, you load your stuff into it. Then you erect a "bulkhead" as a separator and the company fills the rest with either someone else's stuff, or with commercial freight, depending on the route and what's available. I used one -- I think it was ABF but can't be certain -- to ship a wall unit from Gainesville FL to D/FW TX for ~$300, IIRC.

But you'd probably only need one linear foot, or maybe two.

In your shoes, really, I'd suggest:

(1) Looking hard at the small pieces of furniture and ditching them unless they're very valuable or you have strong sentimental attachments to them.

(2) Assuming you're driving from Seattle to SA... compare books versus clothes etc. Unless you're planning to vacation and sightsee along the way, you don't need anything more than a bookbag for the trip. So fill a box with clothes and see if it's lighter than a box of books. Whichever way it goes, take more of the heavier stuff with you in the car, and mail/UPS the lighter stuff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2005

Also: books can be shipped through the USPS using media mail, which is significantly cheaper than regular postage rates.
posted by googly at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2005

You can ship palates of stuff (covered in shrink wrap) via UPS at a rate far cheaper than you would think.

I had a friend who shipped an apartment cross country this way and the cost was hundreds less than renting a truck or using a moving service. The palates did include a small amount of furniture and a bunch of boxes.
posted by Sheppagus at 1:03 PM on June 6, 2005

I had a similar problem when I moved into my apartment last year. At first we considered Uhaul, but after a certain distance Uhual becomes expensive (since they charge by the mile). In the end, the most cost efficient option ended up being to rent a 15 passenger van with all the seats removed from a local company. The van was $150 for the day, and we had to fill the gas tank when we got back. That price ended up beating out Uhaul, and it was the perfect amount of space for my few pieces of furniture and handful of boxes. Check with your local car and van rental agency for prices.
posted by geeky at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2005

Greyhound package express? (Do they still do this?)
posted by elisabeth r at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2005

At first we considered Uhaul, but after a certain distance Uhual becomes expensive (since they charge by the mile).

Bzzt. U-Haul only charges mileage on round-trips. If you rent one-way, they charge by the day (and the price varies by the size of the truck, obviously). As with geeky's company, you'll need to return the truck at your destination with a full tank of gas.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2005

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