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Mistakes to Avoid when Packing for a Move

January 25th, 2016 - 12:55 PM

10 Common Packing Mistakes

Packing for a move is often the most dreaded part of any relocation. It’s so much more than just making sure everything gets put into a box; there’s organizing, wrapping, and taking inventory of your belongings. That’s where many people get it wrong – they wait until the last minute, throw things in boxes, and hope they make it ok. After helping over 850,000 customers move over a billion miles, we’ve identified some common packing mistakes so you can learn what NOT to do when packing for a move.

If you need to start planning your long distance move, get a free moving quote online.

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How NOT to Pack for your Move

Everyone tackles the task of packing differently, and unfortunately for some people, that means the wrong way.  Don’t follow their lead – learn from these common mistakes.

1.     Using found boxes

You might be tempted to use boxes you can find for free, but that’s not the best idea. Found boxes have typically already been used over and over again – and by the time the boxes are discarded, it's usually because the box structure is compromised. These types of free moving boxes aren't made to withstand stacking and can crush easily, damaging your belongings.

To avoid this mishap, we recommend using professional-grade moving supplies for extra stability. Better protection means safe travel and peace-of-mind.

2.     Waiting until the last minute

Packing always takes longer than you think. You might think you can pack up your entire house in the few days leading up to your move.  Too often, we hear stories from overwhelmed customers who just started packing the day of the move. When you consider that it took years to accumulate all of your stuff, it makes sense that it's going to take some time to pack it properly. If you’re able, start packing at least 2-3 weeks before moving day. Start with your least used items (like next season’s clothing, artwork, or your china), and start packing sooner rather than later.

3.     Not creating an “open first” kit

Think about the things you’ll probably need as soon as you start unloading and unpacking – like a roll of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaner, scissors, light bulbs, trash bags, a small tool kit, a box cutter, a first aid kit, and hand soap. Put these items in a special box. If you need things for kids or pets right away (water bowl, portable DVD player), set those aside too.  Pack this "open first" box and set it aside. It should be the last box loaded in the trailer so that it can be the first box unloaded. 

The alternative is having to unload and open every box to find a screwdriver or toilet paper—not an ideal situation!

4.     Not labeling boxes

Imagine this scenario: you arrive at your new home and start unpacking. You get your bed set up for your first night, but need to find your bedding. None of your boxes are labeled, so you have to open 32 boxes before you find sheets or at the very least, a blanket. When packing for a move, it’s vital to stay organized by taking inventory of your items as you pack. By noting the contents on the box, you can quickly find items as you unpack. These printable moving labels will help you keep everything straight. 

5.     Overfilling your boxes

A heavy box is not only hard to lift, but it can bust open. You don’t want to spill the contents of your boxes as you carry them out! While you may be tempted to put as much as possible into each moving box, pay attention to the total weight. To maximize the space inside each moving box, use smaller boxes for heavier items like books. To keep boxes easy to lift (and prevent them from busting open or crushing other boxes), we recommend they be 40 lbs. or less.

6.     Packing at random

If you just take the contents of a drawer and dump them into a box together, you’re bound to have damage. For example, if you have a shelf with books and frames, don’t pack them in the same box as the heavy books can damage the fragile frames.  Instead, group similar items together and have one box for books, and one box for frames. 

7.     Skipping the research

You might be tempted to think “How hard can this be?” when it comes to moving. Even if you’ve moved several times before, we suggest referring to the expert packing tips and loading tips from U-Pack. While professional guidelines may take a little longer, you’ll be so glad you took the care to pack properly.

8.     Leaving empty space in boxes

When you’re packing for a move, you may just put some items inside a box and tape it shut. But before you do, check to see if the items can shift inside the box. Leaving empty space in boxes can be asking for trouble. While you’re being mindful of the overall weight of the box, you should also pay close attention to how full the box is. Fill each box (without bowing at the sides or top) to ensure items don’t move around during transit, using, crumpled packing paper to fill the empty spaces.

9.      Moving everything you own

Sure, purging your home takes time and energy. You might be tempted to move all your stuff now and worry about getting rid of things later. If you don’t want it or no longer need it, don’t move it! U-Pack rates are based on the space you use – so moving less means paying less. If you come across anything that can be donated, sold, or just needs to be thrown out, have a moving sale and make some extra cash or drop off donations before moving day. The less you have to pack and move, the better!

10.             Not wrapping furniture

Many people imagine packing boxes, but don’t think about packing their furniture. Before moving day, furniture should be disassembled and prepared for moving. Keep hardware with the piece of furniture by placing any screws or bolts in a zip top bag and taping the bag to the furniture (inside a drawer is a great spot!). Protect the furniture by covering it fully using the recommended method in our packing tips above. Some furniture should be covered with paper padding while others can be wrapped with plastic wrap or moving blankets. Either way, protecting your furniture will keep it in good condition during your move.

Have questions about packing?

As a “you pack, we drive” service, we want you to have all the tools and knowledge you need to pack your house efficiently before you move. If you have any questions about how to pack for a move, please let us know in the comments. We’re here to help you from start to finish!