A Real DITY Move: Packing

There are no shortcuts when it comes to packing properly. Aaron and Pam, knowing that their time for packing was constrained by the demands of daily life, including work, school, and children, elected to start their packing as early as possible. They identified things that they rarely used and started packing them: China, arts and crafts, picture albums, many books, etc. All got tagged for early boxing.

RESULTS: The fact that some lesser-used items were packed early had no impact upon their daily living, and proved to be a life-saver later on when the moving process really picked up steam.

All homes accumulate stuff that they really don't need. Recognizing this, they spent some time literally throwing things away. Moving is enough work on its own without having to pack and load things that you'll never use again. They found that they had a number of books, old clothes and shoes, and knick-knacks that they really didn't need to keep. Some went to the garbage while the more usable things went to charitable organizations.

RESULTS: They had a tidier house and fewer things to pack. It also helped significantly at their new home when unpacking and finding places for everything.

To avoid cluttering up the house with stacked boxes, the front of the garage was cleared and used as a holding area for finished boxes. It kept the house livable during the majority of the packing process and also served as a nice visual reminder of progress made to date. This also reduced the amount of carrying needed when the truck arrived as a large number of the boxes were already in easy reach in the garage.

RESULTS: This kept things much more orderly than they would otherwise have been. It also kept the house safer, an important aspect of moving with young children.

They had saved the best boxes from their last Dity Move, wrapped in a plastic mattress bag and taped shut to protect them from moisture. That saved them a lot of money on this move. All in all, they used about 80% old boxes and 20% newly purchased boxes. Among their favorite boxes were dishpacks, which are much sturdier than the average box and offer better protection and less susceptibility to crushing.

They tried to pack like the professionals. Rather than using a lot of bubble-wrap, they mainly used clean newspaper-type paper ordered online or purchased locally. This produced well-packed boxes and offered excellent protection for their property, especially their breakable items such as China, glasses, pictures, and other delicate items. They were so impressed with this packing method that they now believe it to be the only logical choice for moving. The exception is those items with original packaging, which they used as the very best protection.

RESULTS: They carefully packed all of their boxes using this method and had no breakage except for one framed picture which they had placed poorly. In this instance, the picture was packed diagonally between other objects that could place pressure on the glass.

Packing the perfect box, while a nice goal, can lead to delays. They had to avoid wasting time searching for just the right item to fit into the remaining space in a box. This ran slightly afoul of their desire to pack everything tightly to save money on the trailer (by using less room). But in a Dity Move, time quickly becomes the most valuable commodity. Even when a box wasn't filled quite to their satisfaction, they would ensure that they finished it with wadded paper adequate to keep the top of the box from sagging when weight was applied from above. This was very important to ensure that they didn't allow the box sides to crush and also important to ensure that packing was done quickly.

RESULTS: Packing time was optimized by avoiding long delays looking for the perfect object to finish off a box. Using wadded paper in the top kept their belongings from shifting about in the boxes or having the sides of boxes collapse.

Keeping to a packing schedule took discipline. Even when they knew that they should be packing, it proved impossible to maintain 100% dedication to the task over several months. It was all too easy to spend a day relaxing rather than pushing consistently towards the goal of finishing the packing.

RESULTS: This worked out well enough since they had given themselves several months of time. It also kept them from becoming burned out too soon and failing to prepare in time for moving day.

Some items are tough to pack, and those inevitably got put aside until later in the packing process. To a great extent, if it promised to be a difficult item to safely put into a box, it waited until later in the process. To some extent, this was good. As they got better and better at packing, they were better able to deal with these items. In another sense, it was bad. What was left at the end were those items that proved challenging (and more time-consuming) to pack.

RESULTS: By placing those items aside, Aaron and Pam's energy was most efficiently used for most of the packing phase. Unfortunately, those items proved to be a real chore when moving day grew near, adding to stress levels and contributing to the last-minute time crunch just before and during loading.

In spite of knowing better, Aaron and Pam succumbed to the desire to pack too much into some boxes. The best example of this was choosing overly large boxes for books. It doesn't take too many books to create a very heavy box, and even to overload the box to the point of partial failure. Not only does it place the books in danger of being damaged, but it can be hazardous to carry, especially where stairs might be involved. They ended up unloading at least one box (due to weight) to put the contents into multiple boxes prior to loading.

RESULTS: Several boxes were actually loaded in an overpacked state. This proved challenging to load and also led to problems during unloading and placement in the new house due to their weight. The boxes also showed signs of wear due to their overpacked state that might easily have led to failure.

Not all packing involved boxes. A lot of the packing chores actually involved disassembly and wrapping of larger items. Everything from kids chairs to shelves to tables to beds got disassembled to save room in the trailer. This made sense as ABF charged by how much room was used in the trailer, not by how much weight was loaded. Some items could be disassembled into small enough parts to go into boxes, but others required special attention to ensure that they did not sustain damage such as scratches or gouges. RESULTS: The disassembly proved a critical part of preparing for and executing the move. Loading was easier and less trailer space (and expense) was involved.

To ensure connectors, screws, pins, and other hardware from disassembled items were not lost, all of them were gathered into resealable plastic bags and placed into a single small box labeled "hardware." Each bag included a piece of paper identifying the parts. All in all, there were well over 20 small bags once the packing was finished. To ensure that the box was used, it was placed on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen, in easy reach and view. This kept it from getting misplaced and the hardware from ending up all over the house.

RESULTS: The typical search for hardware after a move was nearly eliminated, speeding the setup of the new house.

Blankets are commonly used to protect furniture finishes and to keep things packed tightly in the trailer. They are expensive however, and Aaron and Pam only had about 15 for their move. To ensure that they would remain in place around some of the more damage-prone items, they used a simple method of combining the blankets with stretch-style plastic wrap. First, the item was wrapped in the blanket and tape was used to keep it in place. Then plastic wrap was stretched repeatedly around the item to create a padded cocoon that proved very effective at protecting them. This was used with table tops, headboards, and other items. The only downside was a tendency for the wrapper and his helper to suffer from dizziness as they circled heavy items repeatedly to create a sound wrapping (bystanders actually found this to be fairly amusing). For some items, due to a lack of blankets, they had to resort to simply applying multiple layers of plastic stretch film. This did not offer the level of protection that the combination of blankets and plastic did, but nonetheless proved quite effective if loaded with care.

RESULTS: In Aaron and Pam's move, this method proved very effective at protecting wood finishes from scratches and gouges. All of the items packed this way came through the move without any damage. Note that proper loading was also important to minimize the chance of damage.