How to Pack Like a Pro
With the right materials and expert guidance from us, you can pack your whole house successfully and efficiently.
If you decide to do your own packing, it can be a real money saver. However, it takes extra time and energy to get the job done right. The following guide will provide ways for you to free yourself from moving stress and pack like a professional!
To get started, make sure you have ample supplies of:
- Tissue paper
- Packing paper (plain newsprint)
- 2" packing tape
- Permanent markers
- Professional quality boxes (available from your agent)
- Utility knife and scissors
It's All About the Boxes
Using new, quality packing materials specifically designed for moving can ensure that your property arrives safely. North American Van Lines has a wide range of boxes and professional packing materials available:
- 1.5 cu. ft. cartons Small carton for heavy items such as books, files, music CDs and DVDs/video tapes
- 3.0 cu. ft. cartons Medium utility carton often used for pots and pans, toys, and small appliances
- 4.5 cu. ft. cartons For bulky items, such as linens, towels or toys
- 6.0 cu. ft. cartons For large, bulky, or lightweight articles, such as pillows or large lampshades
- Wardrobe cartons A "portable closet" that keeps clothes and draperies hanging on a built-in bar
- Mirror cartons Several sizes of telescoping cartons for framed pictures, mirrors or glass
- Mattress cartons Available in queen/king, double, single (twin) and crib sizes. A separate carton is necessary for box springs
- Dishpack (or China Barrel) Heavy duty carton used for dishes/china, crystal and glassware.
- Double-wall cartons Extra protective cartons made especially for fine china, crystal, and other high-value, hard-to replace items
- Stretchwrap A special plastic covering that safely adheres to furniture and protects it from snags, tears, and dirt.
You can ask your agent about materials available for purchase.
You will generally find poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) packing tape to be the most effective to seal boxes. Do not use masking tape or narrow cellophane tape.
When packing yourself, have everything properly packed and ready for loading the evening before moving day. Leave out only the things you'll need that night, the next morning, and immediately at your destination for last-minute packing.
Basic guidelines to make packing a snap:
- Make a schedule, allowing enough time leading up to moving day
- Pack items in the basement, garage, or attic first - these items usually aren't needed right away
- Stay organized by packing room by room
- Designate work areas in each room
- When a room is completed, sort cartons by light, medium, and heavy - limit your heaviest cartons to 50 pounds each
- Clearly label cartons or items that you do not want to transport on the van
Pack for Success
It's recommended that your packer handle the following:
- Marble or glass tabletops, heavy wall ornaments and mirrors 40" x 60" or larger
- Pool table
- Bulky, fragile items like large trophies, statues, chandeliers, etc.
- Major appliances
Here are a few more suggestions for a successful pack:
- Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, non-transportable items and anything that would puncture or damage other items
- Keep all parts or pairs of things together - for example, curtain rod hangers, mirror bolts, and other small hardware items should be placed in plastic bags and taped securely to the article to which they belong
- Pack small, fragile, individually wrapped items separately or a few together in small boxes, cushioning with crushed or shredded paper. Place small boxes in a single large box, filling in spaces with crushed paper
- Put a special mark (the number 1, or the letter A) on cartons you want to unpack first at your destination
Use newspaper only for cushioning; never place it against items, as the ink will rub off. It can even get embedded into fine china, so be careful!
What Not to Pack
You should transport valuable and irreplaceable items with you rather than on the truck. In addition, there are several items that can not be put on the truck, such as explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidizers, poisons, corrosives as well as radioactive and other hazardous materials.
Typical examples of items that cannot be moved include:
- Nail polish remover
- Paints and paint thinners
- Propane cylinders
- Automotive repair and maintenance chemicals
- Lighter fluid
- Oxygen bottles
Other items not recommended for transport on the van include:
- Family photos
- Food in glass jars and perishable foods
- Prescription drugs needed for immediate use
If you have any questions, just ask your Relocation Consultant.
Transport items of personal importance or sentimental value with you, such as:
- Collections (i.e., coins)
- Important personal papers (i.e., deeds, wills)
- Negotiable papers (i.e., bonds, stocks, certificates)
- Moving documents
Each and every moving carton must be labeled using the following techniques:
- Use a broad, felt-tipped marker.
- Clearly mark the contents and the room it will be placed in.
- Indicate "FRAGILE" on delicates; "THIS END UP" where appropriate.
- If available, include the bill of lading number from your moving company on every box.
- As you finish with each moving carton, list the contents on the side of the carton (for easy viewing while stacked) and in a special notebook. You might want to number and/or code the moving cartons as well.
- Indicate your name and the room to which each moving carton should be delivered at destination. Tape a sign on the door of each room at destination corresponding to the carton labels so movers can get the cartons into the proper rooms quickly.
- Put a special mark (the number 1, or the letter A) on moving cartons you want to unpack first at destination.
Tips From the Pros
- Start with out-of-season items. Next, pack things used infrequently. Leave until the last minute things you'll need until moving day.
- Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, non-transportable items and anything that would puncture or damage other items while moving.
- Pack similar items together. Do not pack a delicate china figurine in the same moving carton with cast-iron frying pans, for example.
- Keep all parts or pairs of things together. For example, curtain rod hangers, mirror bolts, and other small hardware items should be placed in plastic bags and taped or tied securely to the article to which they belong.
- Wind electrical cords, fastening them so they do not dangle.
- Wrap items individually in clean paper; use tissue paper, paper towels, or even facial tissue for fine china, crystal and delicate items. Colored wrapping paper draws attention to very small things that might otherwise get lost in a moving carton. Use a double layer of newsprint for a good outer wrapping.
- Place a two- or three-inch layer of crushed paper in the bottom of cartons for cushioning.
- Build up the layers, with the heaviest things on the bottom, medium-weight next, and lightest on top.
- As each layer is completed, fill in empty spaces firmly with crushed paper and add more crushed paper to make a level base for the next layer, or use sheets of cardboard cut from moving cartons as dividers.
- Cushion well with crushed paper; towels and lightweight blankets may also be used for padding and cushioning. The more fragile the item, the more cushioning needed. Be sure no sharp points, edges or rims are left uncovered.
- Pack small, fragile, individually-wrapped items separately or a few together in small boxes, cushioning with crushed or shredded paper. Place small boxes in a single large box, filling in spaces with crushed paper.
- Avoid overloading moving cartons, but strive for a firm pack that will prevent items from shifting; the cover should close easily without force, but should not bend inward.
- Seal moving cartons tightly with tape except for those containing items that must be left open for the van line operator's inspection.