Packing is more than just shoving everything you own onto a truck and hitting the road. While I don't believe you necessarily have to hire a professional for a successful move, you do need to know what you are doing before you start loading all of your belongings into boxes. Without a little bit of ADVANCE PREPARATION, you could find yourself sorting through unlabeled boxes looking for your frying pan -- or worse yet, filling out damage claims -- instead of enjoying your new home!
HAVE A PLAN
I once helped a friend pack, and was shocked to watch her put food and dishes and medicine and gardening supplies all in the same box. I asked why on earth she did this, and her response was, "That's just how I picked things up." Unfortunately, once she got to her new home, she ended up spending two days hiking all over the house to put things where they belonged. If you will pack your treasures BY ROOM -- storing all of the items that belong in the bedroom in one box, those that will go in the bathroom in another, stuff for the kitchen in a third -- packing will go by twice as fast. And be sure to LABEL each box -- with both the room it belongs to and its contents ("books," "cookware," "towels," etc.) Taking a few minutes to create a master INVENTORY LIST of all your boxes and their contents, according to room, will also help you make sure nothing gets left behind in the move.
I've seen it before -- people either get in such a rush to move or so sick of packing that they just throw things in boxes, without giving any thought to how that container will TRAVEL. Of course, the same people show a lot more concern about the packing job when they find their treasures damaged on the other end! First off, try not to exceed 50 pounds in each packed container -- otherwise they will be impossible to carry and your belongings might be crushed. As you pack, place heavier items on the BOTTOM of each box and lighter items on top. Your containers will be more stable and less likely to tip over in transit. Use strong twine or threaded packing tape to thoroughly seal your containers -- don't just fold the flaps in over themselves, unless you want everything spilling out as the truck is unloaded.
PACKING FRAGILE ITEMS
Many people are afraid to pack their own valuables -- preferring the expense and risk of hiring a mover to pack them -- simply because they are afraid they don't know what they are doing. But it's easy to pack fragile items so that they won't be damaged, with the right equipment. If you still have the item's ORIGINAL packaging, use that for storage during your move -- especially electronic equipment and knick-knacks that have their own specially molded styrofoam padding. If you don't have the original packaging, use clean crumpled paper, bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts for padding. Don't be afraid to use too much padding, especially when packing items that might get chipped or bent easily. You can always use COMPARTMENTALIZED boxes -- like the ones used for transporting stemware -- to keep fragile objects from bumping together. Try to sit items flat on one side or another -- packing fragile objects at strange angles is inviting damage. And be sure to pack your containers tightly to avoid SHIFTING, the number one cause of damage during moves.
Moving furniture can pose a problem -- more because of an item's size and bulkiness than its fragility. With many pieces, you must also take steps to protect FINISHED surfaces from mars and scratches -- which are easily avoided by covering each piece of furniture with a sheet, blanket, or paper. Be sure to pad corners with extra foam or blankets -- these always seem attracted to door frames and sharp corners! It's tempting -- and often an efficient use of space -- to store clothing and linens inside of chests and dressers as you move them. But be careful about OVERLOADING, which can cause furniture joints to separate and collapse. To protect mirrors, pictures, and glass shelves, wrap each piece in a blanket, tape securely, and mark with a note not to sit anything on top of that package. And use only blank newsprint to avoid ink smudges on your belongings, especially lampshades and fabric-covered items.
Some items are difficult or dangerous to transport, unless you prepare them carefully ahead of time. And you can do serious damage to your appliances if they aren't properly stabilized for travel. Start by draining all fluids -- oil, gas, etc. -- from your power and yard tools so they won't leak. Dispose of all corrosive and volatile CHEMICALS -- such as oil, antifreeze, paint, and gasoline. Once you have cleaned out your refrigerator and freezer, leave the doors open to decrease the humidity. And before packing these items on the truck, place a piece of coal or layer of baking soda in the bottom to prevent MILDEW and musty smells. You will also want to block your washer agitator to prevent damage during the move. If you plan to transport a piano, have a trained piano mover prepare your instrument for travel. You might also want to seek special advice from your local nursery about transporting any PLANTS, and from your vet about traveling with your PET.
PACKING DOESN'T STOP WITH THE BOXES
So, you've successfully packed all of your stuff into containers -- don't take a break yet! Whether you are hiring movers or getting a U-Haul, you still need to make sure that your belongings are put on the TRUCK the right way. Many people load their furniture on first, but this is actually counter-intuitive. Think about it -- when you are ready to unpack and get settled in, what should go into each room first? Boxes, or the furniture that will hold the contents of those boxes? Start by packing items you won't need right away -- holiday dishes, off-season clothes, memorabilia, boxes of books -- on the FRONT of the truck (nearest the cab). Make sure to leave room for those things you will want to set up immediately -- the beds, the coffee pot, towels, sheets -- near the BACK or on top of other items. Don't be afraid to load your truck to the ceiling or tie items down -- a tightly-packed load is less likely to shift during transit, meaning less chance of damage.
Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of www.OnlineOrganizing.com -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit www.onlineorganizing.com for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau, get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you, or get some help starting and running your own organizing business. You may contact Ramona at .
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