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Moving Boxes: Just How Do I Pack a Box?

Dear Moving Lady:

My husband's company just transferred him from the East Coast to the West Coast. This is our first move in twenty years and I have no idea how to start packing. Can you help?

Packing? Are you asking the right person? Anyone who has ever seen me wrap a Christmas gift, let alone pack a box, will be laughing too hard to read the rest of this article. My book was about unpacking your stress centers, not packing boxes.

Still, I get queries like this one on a regular basis. And as The Moving Lady, I have a reputation to protect, so here goes.

(1) Hire professional packers if at all possible. They pack fast and they'll be responsible for damage.

And they'll tell you what to do. (Don't even try to argue.) Be sure everything is clean and dry. If possible, organize possessions by the way you will unpack them: put living room stuff in living room.

Otherwise, the only question they usually ask is, "Does this go or stay?"

(2) Just do it! There are no great secrets to packing boxes. I've watched the pros and the main virtue they have is speed. They bring a huge supply of boxes, toss everything in more or less neatly, seal each box as it fills, and open another. Some use newspaper as filler for fragile items; others use that popcorn stuff.

When I pack, I prefer to wrap fragile items in clothes, towels, sheets and other cloth items that I'm taking anyway. Why move packing material that you don't need?

(3) Pack light. The most common mistake is to pack too much into a box. If it's too heavy the movers may refuse to pick it up. If you pack yourself:

(1) Pack up the items you won't need and ship them to the Salvation Army. When in doubt, DON'T toss items -- there will be a Salvation Army at the other end.

(2) Pack one room at a time. Label the boxes. The movers will give you special boxes for breakables and mirrors if you're determined to do it yourself. They should give you wardrobe boxes for clothes, so you can just lift clothes from closet to box. If you have the original boxes for computers, television, and VCR, use them.

(3) Search the web for moving company sites. Nearly every site has a collection of excellent tips for packing. They even have creative ideas like tagging rooms with different color tape. Your own moving company will probably give you more booklets than you have time to read.

(4) Start early! Begin collecting boxes as soon as possible. If you have valuables that are irreplaceable or very expensive, arrange your own insurance and get appraisals before you turn them over to the moving company.

(5) Snap photos of every aspect of the move -- the documentation will be valuable if you have disputed claims.

(6) Take pets with you in the car or as checked baggage. If you move in summer, the airline may refuse to accept animals for shipment. You may be able to bring one into the cabin if you reserve ahead of time.

See my advice to cats who move.

(7) Expect at least one crisis during your move. Something will break, someone will not show up on time, something will disappear (hopefully not the whole moving van). That is normal. Read my article about packing an emotional first aid kit.

For serious advice about moving, download Making the Big Move.

About The Author

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and career/business consultant, helping midlife professionals take their First step to a Second Career. http://www.cathygoodwin.com.

"Ten secrets of mastering a major life change" mailto:[email protected]

Contact: [email protected] 505-534-4294

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