Cheap Cross-Continental Shipping for 98 Banker's Boxes?
August 1, 2007 3:56 PM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest way to move a bunch of banker's boxes across the United States? I have 98 sealed banker's boxes full of books, papers, and a few durable household items in New York City and want to move them to San Francisco. What's the cheapest way to do that short of driving them across the country myself? USPS, UPS, Fedex, etc. all want to treat these as 98 parcels, which is prohibitively expensive. I could pay a moving company to do it, but that's also quite expensive -- and it's not like I need that kind of don't-scratch-my-antiques level of care anyway. Isn't there a cheaper way to get 98 uniform, nonfragile boxes across the country?
posted by gum to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
posted by dorian at 4:00 PM on August 1, 2007

Either PODs or UPack would work well. Previous thread with more info on both.

Or Media Mail is pretty reasonable for the ones that only have books. A 25 lb box of books is only $10.
posted by smackfu at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2007

Call a freight forwarder. Split a load with someone else and you save a bundle.
posted by solongxenon at 4:08 PM on August 1, 2007

Amtrak and Greyhound will accept parcels.
posted by mdonley at 4:09 PM on August 1, 2007

Best answer: 1) Palletize your boxes, using wooden pallets, strapping, and rolls of cling film. UPS, FedEx, and most other freight handlers, including air carriers offer rates for palletized freight handling.
2) Get quotes for pallet freight at, or call truck lines (motor carriers) out of the Yellow Pages
3) Arrange a pickup and delivery.
posted by paulsc at 4:10 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Rate Calculator For FedEx freight. But Paulsc probably gives the best answer, pallet it up and ship it through a common carrier as freight. Perhaps you could even take the boxes to a certain place and pallet them there.
posted by Phantomx at 4:25 PM on August 1, 2007

Load up the car and hire a driveaway driver. Or get a UHaul truck and do same, either through a company or a bulletin board at a college.
posted by katemonster at 4:30 PM on August 1, 2007

Check rideshares on CL and see if someone would be willing to take your boxes (or at least some of them - multiple cars?) with them in exchange for gas money.
posted by gleea at 6:07 PM on August 1, 2007

Weigh it on a bathroom scale and guesstimate the price of media mail, which might be an okay deal. I've gotten stuff via Greyhound, which worked well, but must be picked up at the station. Many freight companies don't want to deal with individuals, and may be unable to accept household goods for inter-state shipping. What you have is merchandise, and you'll be shipping it to and from commercial addresses, like from GUM Books and Ephemera to J. Silverstein's Books, even if it's from your house to Aunt Jane's address. If you know anybody with a business you could ship from, all the better.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 PM on August 1, 2007

Know any college students with a few weeks left to kill this summer? Back then, I would have jumped at the chance to drive cross country for a reasonable fee.
posted by chrisamiller at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2007

About 5 yrs ago, we used Amtrak to move a bunch of stuff cheaply cross country. Amtrak will ship from one station to another - you are responsible for getting it to/from the station. You put the stuff on pallets and they shrink-wrap it and ship it. It is not that fast, but it was inexpensive. You can call them for details.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:00 PM on August 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone -- especially paulsc for the pallet links. I definitely wouldn't have thought of Amtrak, and will check their rates for sure. I can go get the boxes myself and have an adventure . . . in fact, that's what I want to do . . . but wiser heads may prevail (like mine tomorrow) if there's a reasonably priced alternative.
posted by gum at 8:03 PM on August 1, 2007

I used ABF to move some stuff from California to Washington a month or so ago and was pretty stoked at their service at the destination terminal (mostly because the guy there was really nice and awesome and seemed genuinely glad to have my business). The terminal to terminal option was about half the price of door to door, and you only pay for the space you use in their trailer. It worked well for me.

And no, I'm not affiliated in any way, I just like to give positive word of mouth for companies that have done well by me in the past.
posted by Jawn at 11:54 PM on August 1, 2007

Paulsc got it. I have a friend who moved two rooms worth of books from the East coast to the West coast. This was by far the cheapest route. Once he had everything packed, the freight company came out to his house, stacked it on a pallet, wrapped it in plastic and delivered it about a week later to his front door in Seattle.
posted by Phoenix42 at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2007

Couple warnings -- with media mail you really can only send media (books, cds, they can give you a list).
They sometimes open these packages and inspect them and if you ship non-media mail stuff and they find it out they'll make you pay the difference on delivery. (Someone else did it not me.)

With Amtrak watch out for the storage fees if you don't pick your stuff up right away.
posted by Jahaza at 6:06 AM on August 2, 2007

This is called 100-weight shipping in the LTL ("Less than Truckload") biz. There are lots of companies that do this, both the big boys like UPS and FedEx and tons of smaller regional carriers (though many of these have national reach).

100ish bankers boxes is going to be a few palettes worth so find out if there's a discount for multiple palettes going to/from the same spots. There should be.
posted by zpousman at 12:53 PM on August 2, 2007

You could also check out UShip, which is sort of like a ride-share for your stuff.
posted by Myself at 1:25 PM on August 2, 2007

With a palette, is it a problem if you don't have a forklift?
posted by smackfu at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2007

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