My God, I have a lot of crap.
August 2, 2008 2:54 PM   Subscribe

This is my first real (cross-country) move. What are your best packing/moving strategies that I should adhere to?

I've found this previous thread, but am hoping for more tips and tricks for a successful move. I'm moving from Southern California to Baltimore for a few years, however I'm not taking any large furniture. I'm shipping 6-7 medium/large boxes of household goods via FedEx ground (with added insurance) and need to know where to start, how to make sure I'm not forgetting anything crucial, and obviously would like everything to get there unharmed.

I'm leaving a fair amount of my belongings at my current home, so its not seemingly as easy as the need to pack everything. I need to discern what I will and what I will not need/use. Just starting the packing is a bit overwhelming, would a master list be helpful in some way? Should certain items be packed with others in a convenient way for added protection?

Any strategies would be much appreciated!
posted by Asherah to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You need much less than you would think.

cook ware
eating items (flatware, utensils)
some random items to make you feel more at home.

There's very little that is *crucial*.

I'd suggest start with your daily routine. As you use things make a note. Take only those things that you regularly use. Everything else is superfluous.
posted by FlamingBore at 3:13 PM on August 2, 2008

Packing takes 10 times as long as you think it will.

Liquor boxes are great and free.
posted by neuron at 3:19 PM on August 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Pack like items together (clothes with clothes, books with books, kitchenware with kitchenware). Clothing doesn't really make very good padding for breakables. Get a bunch of clean newsprint (you can often buy it in 10-lb boxes at storage or packing places) and bubble wrap for the really breakable stuff.

Don't use boxes that are too big. Book boxes should be about 18x18x12 or 14x14x14, tops (depending on what you're comfortable with).

Completely fill every box you pack. The goal is that, once packed, it is solid enough to support 200 lb stacked on top of it without crushing or bursting. If you've got voids in the box, it'll crush.

Tape all seams on the box. Use 2" packing tape. Always fold the short flaps in before you fold down the long flaps. Do not interleave flaps. If you've got very heavy boxes, get 1" strapping tape and wrap that around the middle to reinforce it.

I think 70 lb is your max weight per box before you get into crazy overweight charges.
posted by adamrice at 3:22 PM on August 2, 2008

Clothing doesn't really make very good padding for breakables.

Seconding this, the idea of using clothing for box padding is popular, but it's just not very effective.

You may or may not get a lot of use out of some movers' plastic wrap, depending on what you're moving. Last time I moved, I wrapped all of my books into small stacks using plastic wrap. Since they were mostly tomes I wasn't overly concerned about damaging, this saved me a ton of time.

Definitely keep a list of what you're packing, it's really helpful to be able to check things off the list as you unpack them. Good moving companies always, always have such lists, and not just for insurance, but because they're damn useful all around.
posted by voltairemodern at 3:44 PM on August 2, 2008

Place bulky clothing/comforter/pillows in garbage bags, get out a vacuum hose and twist the top of the bag around it, vacuum out the air, and carefully knot the bag. You can pack twice as much this way, and the bags remain pliable enough to fit into awkward leftover spots (same idea as those expensive "space bags" but way cheaper). Just don't overfill them.

Pack books in small to medium boxes only. Books are the best item to ship because you can send them Media Mail very cheaply.

Buy the good packing tape, and lots more than you think you need.

Ask stores -- particularly liquor stores and bookstores -- what day is best to get boxes, and you can often get them before they break them down.

Have one suitcase or bag with everything essential for the first few days - you are not going to want to root through every bag to find a towel when you get there.
posted by susanvance at 7:07 PM on August 2, 2008

Having just moved from CA to PA this month, my advice would be to move as little as humanly possible. A bonfire is often a good way to START a move. Very few of the things mentioned above are even worth their weight in shipping, especially if you're footing the bill (rather than your future employer).

But beyond that, it's hard to answer the question without knowing what sort of situation you're heading into. Given that you're taking no furniture (not even a bed?), I would assume you're moving into a furnished place or plan to buy used stuff when you get there. If so, clothes are probably the everyday items most costly and hassle-rific to replace. (And if you're coming from SoCal to Baltimore, you're going to need different clothes anyway. It ain't gonna be 70 degrees in January.)

It's also worth paying for real boxes for anything that's remotely breakable and somewhat valuable. Liquor boxes and the like are fine for books and clothes, but anything with greater potential for damage that's worth shipping is worth protecting.
posted by el_lupino at 7:18 PM on August 2, 2008

rent a dumpster before you start; you'll be amazed at how much useless crap you can easily get rid of. They only cost a couple hundred bucks, depending on size and region.

You can get cheap moving supplies at uhaul, even if you aren't renting their trucks.
posted by jenkinsEar at 8:55 PM on August 2, 2008

This may be something so simple you're already planning on it, but it helped me loads when moving from AK to WA a couple of years ago: number each box, and keep a list of what's in each box. Keep that list on-hand when you get to your new digs so that when you need to find that whatsit at 3 AM and don't feel like pawing through boxes, you'll know just where to go.

Also, forward your mail as early as you can stand to (or at least turn in the forwarding form) - this was a pain in the ass and the last thing I wanted to be doing in the week before I left.
posted by alpha_betty at 6:48 AM on August 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

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