If you were to ask us if it is better to pack small items yourself or leave it to a professional moving company, we would suggest the latter for a few simple reasons: moving Pros were trained and examined on how to pack stuff to avoid possible damages; they always have all necessary packing materials handy; they do it on a daily basis, with years of experience; they will spend a couple of hours packing whereas it would take a couple of days for you.
However, we understand that a packing job done by professionals will cost extra, and for clients on a tight budget it might make sense to pack up kitchen, books, souvenirs, and small miscellaneous items yourself to save a couple of hundreds of dollars on a moving day. That is only if you pack it correctly and avoid making these 8 critical mistakes.
Mistake #1 Packing Essentials First.
DO NOT start your packing rounds from the kitchen. Unless you are eager to unpack boxes a few days later to get those forks and spoons and finish your meal finally, packing essentials of your day-to-day use first is a bad idea. Instead, start packing stuff from the least visited areas of your house, such as storage, attic, basement, garage. Leave kitchen, bathroom and bedroom items to pack last.
Mistake #2 Packing Hazardous Items.
First of all, a reputable moving company cannot take flammables with it in the truck. So no bbq gas tanks, fire starter liquids or other dangerous items can be moved inside the vehicle due to rising temperatures inside. Other belongings like liquids in glass containers, if packed without extra sealing wrap can destroy everything within a box. Make sure to wrap each shampoo, glass cleaner, vine bottle in an airtight plastic bag before putting it in the box. Combining liquids together in one box is also a good practice, as long as it has a “fragile” label written on every side and the top of the box. More on that in mistake #3.
Mistake #3 Bad/lack of LABELS.
When you encounter a pile of huge boxes sitting on top of each other up to the ceiling without any markings and all you need to find is a picture frame,… a sudden revelation appears in your mind – “why the heck didn’t a label it?!” To do it right all you need is a marker and diligence. Make sure to label each box on at least 2 sides and the top. Write which room it belonged to, your last name, number of the box. Another good idea is to tape a sheet with a list of contents on the side or a photo of what’s inside the box if looking from above. Don’t forget to capitalize “FRAGILE”, “KEEP UPRIGHT” or “TOP LOAD” on your boxes as well.
Mistake #4 Wrong boxes.
Some “tutorials” online suggest you to get free boxes at the local grocery store or another random place that throws away used cardboard from deliveries they had. “Just use boxes from beer bottles or can stacks. It is free cardboard, after all, right?” Wrong! While you might save a few dollars by scavaging around to find those boxes, you will lose a lot of packing and moving time while stocking the truck with all those various size weird boxes that would not fit together. There is a reason why the industry uses 3 standard size boxes of 1.5 cu. ft., 3 cu. ft. and 4.5 cu. ft. to pack up everything. Firstly, it costs literally pennies. Secondly, it is super easy to stack those in the truck, which saves both stacking time and space in the truck. Thirdly, you buy in a batch and never have to scavenge and dumpster dive for it again. So just stick to these 3 sizes and never do the mistake #5.
Mistake #5 Plastic Bags.
It might seem very convenient to pack up your miscellaneous items, such as pillows and blankets into trash bags. But the disaster comes when those bags are being stacked next to the furniture in the truck. Unlike boxes, a heap of plastic bags will not create enough support for the next-standing furniture, which will cause extra shaking and possible damage while transporting it. Plus, unlike sturdy cardboard, plastic is very easy to rip and have all its contents out somewhere in the middle of the driveway.
Mistake #6 Light at the bottom. Heavy on top.
That is a no-no for obvious reasons. I bet you do not want your precious vases and glasses to be squashed by a big box filled with encyclopedia Britannica. Every box should be packed with heavy items on the bottom that are wrapped in bubble wrap. Don’t forget to throw in packing peanuts on the bottom of each box and before sealing it, for extra protection.
Mistake #7 Leaving empty space in a box
If there is an empty space in the box, its contents might start shifting side to side, up and down, which will increase the chances of it breaking. Don’t leave empty space in your boxes; fill them with packing material.
Mistake #8 Last-Minute Packing
Recently we had a client who expected her move to take about 3 hours since it was just a studio to move locally. Pretty fair estimate, for such a small move… if everything was packed and ready. However, since it was a last-minute move she did not have time to pack anything, and the move turned out to be 7 hours instead. More than twice as long and more expensive! If you are not ready to spend a hefty sum on a full service, start packing at least a week in advance starting from least used belongings (see mistake #1) and finishing up each room a day.
On another note…
DIY packing can be done right if you avoid these aforementioned mistakes. However, keep in mind that a moving carrier that transports your self packed boxes can only provide limited liability for damaged or destroyed contents. On the other hand, if the moving company packs it for you, it will assume full availability for it. So, if you have a collection of valuable items, in the best case scenario it should be fully protected and packed by professionals. If you are not sure whether to pack yourself or hire a professional, just give us a call at Best Movers league or shoot us an email at email@example.com. Our PROs will be glad to help!