By Tim Carter

Packing tape, bubble wrap and sturdy cardboard are just a few of the supplies you'll need when you start to pack for moving yourself locally or long distance

Packing tape, bubble wrap and sturdy cardboard are just a few of the supplies you'll need when you start to pack for moving yourself locally or long distance


I'm moving from one house to another and am overwhelmed. There seems to be so much to pack and I'm not sure how to proceed. I've received several bids from moving companies, and the cost for them to pack my possessions took my breath away. I've studied the "u-pack" moving options, but I wonder if I'm up to the challenge. What advice do you have for moving and packing services? --Mandy S., Lima, Ohio


Oh, boy, do I feel your pain! Just after finishing this column, I've got to finish packing for my own imminent move. In just two days, the giant moving truck and crew will be here to start loading my 18,000 pounds of possessions. My wife and I have done most of the packing, so we've joined the growing you-pack-we-move movement.

I did the same thing you did and got several quotes from cross-country moving companies. I felt the same sticker shock you did. It's expensive to move, and even more so if you decide to do little or no work. You can save thousands of dollars if you do the packing yourself.

The cost of the move is largely a function of the total weight of your belongings. If you can reduce the overall weight of what you're transporting from one house to the next, then do it. Sell or donate the things you simply can live without. Remember, weight is your enemy on moving day.

I discovered the power of the online classified websites a few months ago. The one I've had the best luck with is the free website I've sold many crazy items that I had little or no use for using this method. I was even able to use this same website to advertise a garage sale -- at no cost. This sale was very successful, allowing me to sell off thousands of pounds of items. And the cash I made is going to help pay for the move.

Packing for a move takes many more hours and days than you might ever imagine. My wife and I have been packing for well over two weeks, even with the help of a friend, and we still have lots to do. It's essential to be prepared. You'll need abundant supplies to help protect your valuable possessions. Sturdy cardboard boxes, rolls and rolls of tape, rolls of bubble wrap, and some old newspaper or cheap kraft paper will come in very handy.

Many moving companies will supply you with an assortment of boxes to help you pack. The dish pack cartons are the strongest, as they commonly are constructed with two layers of cardboard. These will really help protect your most fragile things.

I discovered a business very close to my home that sells shipping supplies to businesses. Not surprisingly, they sell the very things people like you and I need to pack for a move, and they sell them for much less than a big box store. So far I've used over five 250-foot rolls of bubble wrap to pack things. These rolls are 4 feet in diameter!

It's really important to pack things you value carefully. Inside the truck, objects will rub and bump against one another, especially on a long-distance move. This can damage the finish on the items, so you need to be sure you wrap valuable things with something that will protect them: paper, sheets of cardboard, bubble wrap, old clothes, etc.

If you have to pack large items, you may have to build your own boxes. Wooden crates can be used to protect expensive items, but these can be tough to build if you're not a carpenter. I built a large crate for a chandelier using 1-inch-thick honeycombed cardboard panels. It only took 30 minutes to tape it together with the thick corner supports.

Packing a moving truck well is an art unto itself. Blanket wrapping each piece of furniture is necessary to prevent damage. The rocking of the truck will cause items to shift if they are not packed correctly and placed tightly against one another.

If you want to discover how to pack a moving van the right way, I recommend watching a professional do it. I intend to do just that in a few days. There's no doubt that all the items being moved, especially those in boxes, are separated by shape and weight. I'm guessing the heavy items most definitely will be placed on the floor of the truck with lighter items stacked on top of them. That's just common sense -- or, should I say, rare sense!

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Home & Garden - Packing for a Move Is an Art Unto Itself