Questions to Consider Before Packing

Most people do not enjoy packing, particularly if the house being packed up is large. Do-it-yourself packing is a big job, but it can be a way to save money on your relocation costs if you have the time.  Here are some questions to help you decide is packing yourself is the best option for you:

• Do you have the time?

Packing and unpacking is a big job – especially if you are working full time. Make sure you have enough time off to complete your pack with as little stress as possible. You can’t start too soon.

• Are you packing breakable items?

Packing breakables can be intimidating and time consuming. For example, how you pack your pots and pans will be very different from how you pack up your heirloom china. Dishes, lampshades, glass, silver and more must all be packed differently, sometimes in special moving boxes. In order to prevent breakage, you will have to learn how to pack different items. Plan for extra time on packing day to ensure all of your items are packed properly.

• Are you packing valuables?

Valuable items, including wine collections and fine art, have special packing needs. Some valuable items should be shipped in sturdy crates. Are you prepared to build crates for your special items? Check out our special moving services for more information.

• Do you have the right materials?

You will need LOTS of boxes – probably more boxes than you think, and having enough boxes will make your life easier. Moving and packing boxes should be sturdy and you should have a selection of sizes. You’ll need strong plastic packing tape to close up the boxes securely. Use unprinted newsprint, packing paper or bubble wrap to wrap and cushion household good. Again, you’ll need lots more supplies than you think, so get extra so the packing can go smoothly.

• Do you have help?

Having people help you is ideal. Packing boxes for moving house is a big project. People tend to underestimate how many items they actually have – until that miscellaneous drawer is emptied! Enlist family and friends to help you – offering pizza helps.

• Are you moving internationally?

Every country has different regulations about what you can bring in – make sure that you understand your destination’s rules prior to packing, so that you don’t lose any of your belongings. There are also additional regulations dictating how items must be packed for international shipping.

Your Packing Responsibilities

If you decide to do the packing yourself, you automatically assume a major portion of the responsibility for your move’s success – including having everything properly packed and ready for loading when the van arrives. In other words, all packing must be completed the evening before move day. Only the things you’ll need that last night, the next morning and immediately at your destination, should be left for last-minute packing.

In addition, your packing will be expected to meet specific standards. This means complying with the principles of good packing standards, as well as following the suggestions for items that should not be included in your shipment.

A word to the wise: Generally things from garages, attics and storage spaces, such as holiday decorations and sentimental items are the ones that need to be repacked. Look for cartons that are torn, ripped, soiled, will not close or cannot be sealed. Replace those with fresh boxes. Another repacking giveaway is if you can hear the contents rattle when you shake the box. In that case, add more insulation.

Prior to loading the van, moving company personnel will inspect the cartons you have packed.  If it is their opinion that items are improperly packed or cartons are susceptible to damage, the company may refuse to load the cartons until the questionable items are repacked.

Items You Shouldn’t Pack

It’s best to make other arrangements for the transfer of certain negotiable items or articles of extraordinary value – or, take them with you.  If you decide to include such items in your shipment, be sure to list them on the High-Value Inventory form that will be provided by your United representative:

  • Address Books
  • Air Line Tickets
  • Bond
  • Car Keys
  • Cash
  • Check Books
  • Deeds
  • Documents pertaining to the move
  • Family Photographs and Albums
  • Files
  • Financial Statements
  • Furs
  • Jewelry
  • Medicine
  • Personal Video Tapes
  • Securities
  • School Records
  • Stamp or Coin collections
  • Sterling Silver
  • Stocks
  • Tax Records
  • Wills

To guard against damage that can be caused by combustion, leakage or explosion, dispose of these items:

  • Acid
  • Aerosols
  • Ammonia
  • Ammunition
  • Batteries
  • Bleach
  • Charcoal
  • Chemicals, such as those for darkrooms
  • Chemistry Sets
  • Cleaning Fluids
  • Cologne and Perfume
  • Fertilizer
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Flammable goods
  • Flares
  • Food in glass jars
  • Frozen or Refrigerated Food
  • Furniture Polish
  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Lamp Oil
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Loaded Weapons
  • Matches
  • Motor Oil
  • Nail Polish and Remover
  • Oil-Based Paints
  • Paint Thinner
  • Pesticides
  • Pool Chemicals
  • Propane Tank
  • Scuba Tanks, except with the valve removed
  • Starter Fuel
  • Stern
  • Weed Killer

If it is absolutely essential to pack a liquid, such as a medical prescription, the lid or cap should be fastened tightly and taped shut.  The container then should be placed in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

Do not pack heat-sensitive items if your shipment will be transported during the summer.  This includes decorative candles, computer diskettes, videotapes, compact discs, record albums and cassette tapes. During hot weather, consider these options for heat-sensitive items: taking them with you, selling or giving them away before moving, or sending them by air freight to reduce transit time.


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