Saturday, September 21, 2013

Low-Cost Packing Tips and Tricks

As I am one day away from embarking on my adventure to graduate school, I thought I’d take the time to share a few packing tips. I like to think I am well-seasoned at it, due to moving in and out of the dorms three times during college, then into and out of an apartment during my last year. The one thing that baffled me the most: people who bought moving kits from U-Haul or other moving companies. These moving kits, if you are not aware, range anywhere between $70 to $200 dollars and come with a variety of boxes in different sizes, a roll of foam packing material, and the promise of, “We’ll 100% buy back any boxes or tools you don’t use!” 

Uh, what?

Many people don’t realize that grocery stores or department stores have tons of boxes after new freight is dropped off and stocked on the shelves, and that if you ask nicely, they’ll give them to you for FREE! Sometimes it is necessary to make a stop at your desired store early in the morning, as the boxes can go fast. This is a common occurrence at the grocery store I worked at, where if the boxes are not reserved early, they go straight into the baler to be smooshed.

This time around, I asked my sister if she could pick me up a few boxes from the store she works at. She came home with the back of her SUV brimming with the collapsed bodies of corrugated cardboard boxes. I didn’t necessarily need forty-something boxes for a one bedroom apartment, but I guess it’s easier for the store to collapse them all and reserve them on a dolly for someone because it saves on space. Plus, I got a nice variety, ranging from oddly-shaped Fisher Price boxes to ones that still smelled of the adult diapers they’d previously contained. A wonderful aroma, I know.

"Jake and the Neverland Pirates Magical Tiki Hideout"
A hysterical gem of a box.
The boxes that I didn’t use for packing have been put to use as cushioning between furniture in the U-Haul van so that nothing rattles, rubs, scuffs, or gets scratched. Pillows, blankets, sheets, rugs, and comforters also work quite nicely.
Doing some cushioning
I also like to use large plastic bins for moving heavy things like dishes, pots and pans, or other kitchen gadgets, because, unlike a cardboard box, the bottom will not fall out. I can rest assured that my nice Goodwill dishes will not meet an untimely death. And they’re Martha Stewart, so they’re actually kind of nice. Haha?

Anyway. The great thing about using plastic bins for moving is that they can be used again and again. I have 4 or 5 that I’ve been using for going on 3 years now. When they’re not being used for moving, they can be placed in storage to hold stuff like seasonal clothing that clutters a closet, holiday decorations, or whatever it is that takes up space that you don’t want anyone to see. Or they can be left empty, I suppose. If you like wasting space. The point though is that they’re reusable, which I think is terrific!

Almost everybody knows to use newspaper for wrapping breakables, but how many people know that plastic grocery bags also work well? Probably not that many, because when I was moving out of my last apartment, I ran out of newspaper and junk mail to wrap things in, so I used plastic sacks as a last resort. I wouldn’t recommend doing it for things like plates, but they work well as cushioning. Example: I like to wrap the lids of ceramic dishes in a plastic bag before setting the lid back on the dish, that way there’s a little bit of a barrier and less risk of something breaking. Plastic bags can also be balled up and stuffed into empty corners of boxes to prevent sliding. I find they’re also excellent for wrapping mugs in.
Time to get in the box, Carl.
Labeling the outside of boxes is always a good idea. This ensures that if something inside the box is fragile, it is handled appropriately and ends up in the correct room upon unloading. It makes moving day a little less stressful. Until you get hangry and start shoving the last few things you’re packing into any box you can find and then give up on labeling them, because what do hangers and ceramic planters really have in common, anyway? How are you supposed to label that? And why hasn’t your sister put the pizza rolls in the oven yet?

That totally didn’t happen today.

Okay, maybe it did. Who knows what I’ll find tomorrow when I unpack the boxes I didn’t label.

What are some of your favorite low-cost packing tips? I’d love to hear!

We did it!
Also: why do I have so much crap?

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