As Miss D. and I begin to get our stuff in order for the big move south-westwards to Texas, we're learning (and re-learning) some time-honored lessons in how best to pack our stuff. They apply particularly because we're moving ourselves, rather than having professionals do it for us. For the sake of anyone who's looking at the same process in the near future, I thought I'd share them here.
- Get rid of excess stuff well in advance of moving day. It pays to go through your possessions with an eagle eye, discarding what you don't use or don't need, rather than packing it all to take with you - and decisions like that can't really be made in the stress of last-minute preparations. It's easier, simpler and less stressful to do so at your leisure before the big day.
- Big moving boxes are not necessarily a good idea. They're great for bulky, lightweight stuff like comforters, but a terrible idea for heavy things, because one inevitably wants to fill them up, making use of all the available space. That makes them too heavy to be easily handled.
- Carts, trolleys and hand trucks are your friend! I bought a heavy-duty appliance dolly several years ago, which has proved invaluable in moving appliances, gun safes, etc. I also have a small folding cart that moves two or three boxes at a time, and a bigger one that moves up to eight when it's converted from vertical (two-wheel) to horizontal (four-wheel) mode, so that the back now serves as a load bed. They're invaluable, particularly if you have a bad back as I do, and I'd hate to move without them. Get good-quality ones, too. Don't skimp on cheap stuff. You'll be thankful when you need them.
- Small boxes are great for heavy items like books and crockery. Trouble is, you need a lot of them if you have a lot of books or heavy things. We've learned to simply 'bite the bullet' and accept large quantities of smaller containers, rather than worry about it.
- Crockery has to be well padded. If newspaper isn't available in large quantities (and today, with newspaper sales going through the floor, that's more likely than not), use blankets, jeans and T-shirts to separate your plates, bowls, mugs and cups from each other. It's a bit tricky folding multiple items into a single blanket, but it can be done - just as long as you unfold it very delicately and gently when you unpack!
- Don't buy your shipping boxes from a moving company. They want a relatively high price per box. Lowes offers moving boxes in small, medium and large sizes for very much less money, ranging from $0.69 to $1.36 (compared to $4.99-$9.99 apiece at some storage and moving companies). I bought about a hundred in assorted sizes. We're unfolding them, taping them to add strength to the joints, and using them as needed. If we have some left over, we'll take them down with us - there are bound to be people moving who can use them.
- I've always had a fondness for using plastic totes rather than cardboard boxes to store and move things. Unfortunately, they take up a lot of space when you're not using them, and they cost a lot of money relative to the cheap cardboard boxes I mentioned above. I've got something like twenty or thirty that will be surplus to requirements when we finish this move, and rather than stack them up and keep them for future needs, I think I'm simply going to pass them on to someone else. They're probably more trouble than they're worth.
Just a few 'lessons learned' so far. I hope they help you, too. Those of you with more moving experience than the rest of us (particularly 'military brats', who've done so very often) are welcome to leave your own suggestions in Comments.