Ship *all* the things (US)
June 10, 2015 10:51 AM   Subscribe

My things are moving cross-country at the end of the month, to a friend's house that will be my new address. I, however, am travelling overseas for a couple months between moving and getting there. Advice on shipping stuff affordably with a minimum of inconvenience to my friend is welcome, snowflakes inside.

I have a relatively small amount of stuff to move - no furniture, a closet of clothes and linens, kitchen stuff, and about 10 boxes of books/games/craft stuff. And a bike. And a flat-screen monitor.

I've narrowed it down to FedEx or UPS freight - the nearest Greyhound stop is an hour away and I don't fully trust them, the nearest Amtrak station is further plus my friend would have to pick it up on the other end (although if they're noticeably better/cheaper I'd still consider this). Books will go media mail. I'm imagining FedEx/UPS will palletize my stuff, possibly with other things? Any advice for navigating that process? Are my standard-sized UHaul boxes ok?

I have a bunch of not-especially-valuable heirloom jewelry - I'm most concerned with my grandmas' wedding sets, some tiny diamond jewelry, and a pearl necklace. Just ship it with everything else or should I have separate package(s) that are express service? Taking it with me on my travels sounds like a risky proposition.

I really like my dishes and want to keep them. Can I just use a dish barrel with a ton of packaging material for shipping? Do I really need to do the box-in-a-box method?
posted by momus_window to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're already looking at palletizing your stuff, double check the rates against some of the PODS knockoff companies out there Packrat, Door-to-Door, ABF-UPack all gave us really cheap rates for shipping a couple pod things cross country. Not as cheap as Amtrak or Greyhound, but WAY cheaper than Fedex/UPS. Door-To-Door's little pods are actually just built on top of pallets, so if you're going that route in volume already, they're worth checking out.

When we moved cross country, with a similar moving-your-stuff/moving-yourself separately dynamic going on, it was REALLY nice to just pack the stuff up, let it sit in storage for however long, then just have it delivered to the end address. This would be the most convenient to your friend, because…they never interact with it. They're also pretty damn secure; most of the companies put little tamper proof bands across all the locks (that you provide, so you're the only one with keys).

For the Jewelry, I'd actually pack that up and ship it separate to your friend directly. Fedex is pretty good about not losing things, and if you send it 2-day Air, or Overnight they're tracking system is really good. It won't be more than a single package, and won't cost a ton to ship those apart from the rest.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:02 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

To make things least inconvenient for your friend, you should use a long distance moving company or an actual freight handler and not a shipping company. Somebody like that is going to have a secured warehouse and a business model that can charge you for storing your stuff at (near) your destination, followed by actual delivery of the stuff once you're there to receive it. This is all pretty much what furnace.heart says. You'll get a phone number for the local dispatch at your destination, and when you arrive you call them to schedule delivery.

UPS and FedEx are primarily in the business of delivery, not the business of storage. UPS has a nasty habit of trying to deliver your stuff as soon as it shows up at the local depot, so while they can be cost-competitive for some palletized freight, I don't consider them a reliable option if you're not going to be there to deal with them when the stuff arrives.

But if you do go with one of those two, you will be happiest if you palletize the stuff yourself instead of leaving it up to somebody else. And you'll want a detailed packing list and insurance for the full replacement value. For the jewelry, send that separately, via FedEx, with insurance and signature required. Also the old rule of thumb was that tampering with the mails is a federal crime, but tampering with FedEx at worst just gets you fired. Many USPS carriers now are contractors so I don't know that the whole federal crime thing actually carries much weight, though.

For best success with the bike, you can take it to a bike shop and have them disassemble it and put it in a shipping box for you (probably one they repurpose from arriving stock), and that should prevent catastrophic damage to the frame. Run that box across the middle of your pallet, put all the book boxes along one side of it in evenly stacked rows (get the same size box and pack it consistently), and put your dish barrel on the other side of the bike. Stack lighter items on top. Wrap the whole thing in stretch film (if you trust your carrier you can go around the pallet once; if you don't, three times ought to cut it). If your stacked pallet is taller than about five feet, you might need two pallets. The advantage of PODS or Door-to-Door is that they're giving you a bit of structure around your stuff, which simplifies the pallet loading, but it's not like pallet loading is hard.
posted by fedward at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2015

Seconding Furnace.Heart's recommendation for PODS or something thereof.
I really think it will de-stress everyone concerned and make it so much easier for you to get stuff packed, picked up and know it's safe in storage while you're travelling around. My assumption here is that you wouldn't have it delivered until you're back here and ready for it, as opposed to having it delivered to your friend and having them unpack it and deal with it while you're out galavanting around.

And yes to packing up the jewelry, sending it FedEx Overnight/2 Day Air and insuring the hell out of it.

Have fun storming the castle!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2015

Ditto the "PODS" type recommendations. PODS themselves now use minicontainers, and they'll gladly move it across the country and store it at THEIR place until you're ready to receive it, so they'll deliver it to your door.

Obviously you'll probably need a big driveway or whatnot.

I've tried the "move via UPS" thing 15 years ago. Just about killed my UPS guy (I live on 3rd floor and there ain't no elevator. )
posted by kschang at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2015

Obviously you'll probably need a big driveway or whatnot.

Almost all the carriers will pay for the street permits to park these along the sidewalk (in most places). Only one of four of our POD style moves has involved a driveway.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:16 PM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far!

Pod and UPack quotes I got are prohibitively expensive, I would just get rid of stuff before I did that. Also, PODS doesn't serve Portland, OR (destination), apparently?

Receiving packages at home is not a problem for friend, but i want to avoid making her rent a vehicle to pick stuff up.
posted by momus_window at 4:37 PM on June 10, 2015

PODS doesn't serve Portland, OR (destination), apparently?

Yeah they do.
posted by John Cohen at 4:23 AM on June 11, 2015

Response by poster: I shipped FedEx. For the amount of stuff I had, palletizing worked - they palletized for me. They did a visit to see how much stuff there was and gave me a quote, then picked up the boxes day of. The boxes were pretty beat up on arrival, but nothing inside was damaged. Dishes in foam envelopes in heavy-duty box, dish barrel with other breakable kitchen stuff in copious newsprint. Stuff was delivered while I was away, friend put it in garage with help from FedEx driver. ~$1200

Books went USPS media mail at ~$1/lb.
posted by momus_window at 3:29 PM on October 2, 2015

« Older Best youtube tutorials to learn access and a...   |   Seeking resources for friend with metastatic... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.