Packing & Moving Tips

  • BEFORE your move, eliminate what you don't want or need.
  • DO NOT apply a heavy coat of wax to your furniture before the move. A pad or blanket can leave marks in the finish that may not come out later. The wax can become slippery, which could cause the workers to drop the piece or incur an injury.
  • If you're doing your own packing, be careful about overloading the cartons. To maximize safety and efficiency, ask your mover about cartons that are specially designed for moving. Do not pack all your books in one big carton -- it will be too heavy to move!! Be sure to use appropriate cartons so your goods will arrive safely. (Plastic trash bags are not appropriate cartons.) Carton tops should be flat and taped securely for easier (and quicker) handling and safe and efficient stacking in the truck.
  • To avoid damage, be sure fragile articles are not packed in the same carton with heavy articles. Be sure to mark all cartons clearly. Unplug your TV's and computers at least 24 hours before the move. This "cool down" period will help stabilize the working parts and help prevent damage.
  • Carry your valuables (jewelry, furs, money, etc.), medication, and important papers with you -- do not pack them in the moving truck. Your contract will specify that the mover is not responsible for these items.
  • Remember, it's "first in, last out" when loading any truck. Keep toiletries, medicines, and other necessities with you in the car on moving day.
  • Ask your mover for more ideas on preparing for your move. That's what they do!

Whether you're moving three miles or 2000 miles makes little difference. The same care and diligence must be taken in handling and packing your prized possessions.

How you "make your move"-- from familiar surroundings to a new environment is up to you.

It's your move...but it's our reputation.

The Washington Movers Conference brings you the following helpful hints to make your move a memorable and pleasant experience.

  • It takes a little more advance Notice than a dinner reservation. If you're thinking of moving in the near future, call your mover well in advance.This is especially important if you're planning to move during the busy summer months when children are out of school. In timing your move, try to give the moving company a choice of days. If possible, avoid last days of the month, when a rush builds up.
  • Don't just grab the yellow pages. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable, reliable company. Ask friends and neighbors, or contact the Better Business Bureau for comments and experiences regarding the moving company you are considering. Your state regulatory agency (in Washington, that's the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission) or the federal D.O.T.'s Surface Transportation Board can confirm if the mover you are considering is licensed or has complaints.
  • Get a "Guess-timate". Your mover will be glad to explain the transportation rate and the charges for packing, wardrobe service, extra pick-up or delivery, storage, additional value protection and other services. But remember, an estimate is a "guess-timate." It's based on average sizes and weights to help you anticipate your approximate expense. The estimate may be over or under the actual charges at destination.
  • Confess your innermost secrets. Be sure to tell your mover everything you intend to move. For your estimate to be accurate, show the estimator the contents of every room, closet, attic, cellar or garage so he can accurately gauge your requirements. Surprising him on moving day can only lead to confusion and possibly delay. The mover won't just "throw in" the extra "stuff" at no charge.
  • Avoid bouncing checks and unhappy utility companies. Save time by using the official notification forms which your mover will often be able to supply to you to notify utility companies, banks, government agencies, publications, social and professional organizations.
  • If you own a cast-iron, golf-flecked elephant foot umbrella stand, Call it a Cast-iron, Gold-flecked Elephant Foot Umbrella Stand. Be sure the specific description and accurate condition of each item is entered on the inventory. A sofa that has given service to a family for eight years cannot possibly be in "mint" condition. Items that are marred and gouged should be indicated as such. Identify highly valued and treasured items so they may be given appropriate care.
  • Don't be embarrassed to be a snoop. Be on hand at the time of packing, pick-up and delivery to protect your interests. Carefully inspect all your possessions upon their arrival. When you sign the delivery receipt, you accept and acknowledge that your possessions are apparent good condition, except as you indicate in writing on the delivery receipt.
  • You've hired a qualified mover, not a jack-of-all-trades. Disconnecting and connecting of appliances, television antenna, air-conditioning units and other items requiring special servicing and installation should be arranged with your appliance dealer. Some movers will perform certain of these services, or make arrangements for you.
  • Oops... accidents can happen. Sometimes, despite the utmost care, loss or damage may occur. Your goods will be partially protected for 60 cents per pound per article at no extra cost. You may, for a modest charge, place increased valuation on your goods, or purchase protection insurance. Discuss your specific protection requirements with your mover in advance. Set aside jewelry, documents, money and especially valuable small items to carry with you. Sometimes, despite the utmost care, loss or damage may occur. Your goods will be partially protected for 60 cents per pound per article at no extra cost. You may, for a modest charge, place increased valuation on your goods, or purchase protection insurance. Discuss your specific protection requirements with your mover in advance. Set aside jewelry, documents, money and especially valuable small items to carry with you.
  • Get a receipt. Be sure you receive from your mover upon delivery a correct bill complete with all weights, rates and charges. This is your official receipt. This is what you will be expected to pay, in cash or certified check, for your shipment. Be sure you receive from your mover upon delivery a correct bill complete with all weights, rates and charges. This is your official receipt. This is what you will be expected to pay, in cash or certified check, for your shipment.
  • Remember to remove all CDs from your player before packing.
  • Make sure all CDs are back in their cases.
  • If you don't have the owner's manual, draw a diagram of the wiring PRIOR TO disconnection.
  • Some CD Players have a transport screw under the unit. Tighten before packing.
  • Remove any stacker or multi-play cartridges prior to packing, and wrap individually.
  • Close CD trays.
  • The best way to move your CD player is in the original box with the original packing. In the event that you do not have the original box and/or packing, use a box big enough to cover the entire unit with enough room for packing material. The packing material should snugly fill the excess room in the box so that the unit will not move around. Plastic bubble sheets make an ideal packing material. Try to stay away from using newspaper. Seal the box with reliable packing tape. Your carrier can provide you with packing containers and materials if needed.
  • If you have a remote control, be sure to wrap it separately, but pack it in the same box with your CD Player. All wiring should also go in the box with the CD Player.
  • Include the children in making plans for the move. For example, take them house-hunting with you.
  • Help your child(ren) learn about the new area.
  • Through play-acting with dolls, boxes and a wagon, children can get a feeling of "moving".
  • Let the children help decide how their new rooms are to be arranged and decorated.
  • Encourage children to exchange addresses and phone numbers with their friends.
  • Prepare a package for each child containing snacks, some clothing, and a few favorite toys for the move.
  • Take a "family break" as soon as the major unpacking is done. Don't try to do everything when you arrive.
  • Parents should spend time after the move listening to each child about new schools and new friends.
  • Follow progress in new schools. Accompanying your child(ren) to school the first few days may ease tension.
  • Any lingering abnormalities (loss of appetite, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual disorder) should be reported to a doctor.
  • If your move involves suburban to rural, or vice versa, caution children about new situations they will face.
  • Pets cannot be shipped on moving vans. Pets often become frightened and may try to run away. Keep your pet on a leash when outside.
  • Your pet should wear a special identification tag, with its name, your name, and where you can be reached.
  • Except for Seeing Eye Dogs, pets are not permitted on buses or trains.
  • Consider sending smaller pets by air express.
  • Consult with your veterinarian concerning mild sedation of your pet during the trip.
  • If your move is across state lines, call or write to the State Veterinarian, State Department of Animal Husbandry, or other appropriate authority.
  • Interstate health certificates must be obtained for dogs and horses prior to entering most states.
  • All but four states require an rabies vaccine for dogs, and many require it for cats. Hawaii requires that cats and dogs be quarantined for 120 days.
  • Some pets must have an entry permit issued by the destination state's regulatory agency.
  • A few states have border inspection of all animals being transported; others have random inspections.
  • Local communities have pet control and licensing ordinances. In some cases, the number of pets is limited
  • Make reservations well in advance. Follow airline instructions.
  • Obtain a shipping container a week or two in advance. Familiarize your pet with it by placing the pet in it for a few minutes each day. Gradually lengthen the time until the pet seems to be at ease with it.
  • Carefully schedule boarding and shipping arrangements for your pet to assure that the pet is well cared for until you are able to receive it at your new home.
  • Feed the pet no less than five or six hours before flight time. Give the pet a drink of water no less than two hours before the flight.
  • If your pet is accompanying you, arrive at the terminal 45 minutes before normal check-in time.
  • If shipping the pet, get to the freight terminal two hours in advance of the flight.
  • Be certain that names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons responsible for the pet at origin and destination are clearly marked on the container and on the pet's identification tag.
  • Notify the person receiving the pet that is on the way. Give them the flight and waybill number.
  • Pets can usually be picked up within 90 minutes of flight arrival.
  • If your dog or cat is not used to traveling by car, make short trips with the pet a week or two in advance.
  • Dogs should be taught to lie quietly. Don't let your dog put its head in the wind. It can irritate eyes and cause problems.
  • Cats are often frightened by car travel, but they usually adjust quickly.
  • Folding kennels or crates especially designed for station wagons can be very useful.
  • Accustom your pet to being on a leash and always use it when outside your vehicle or hotel.
  • If you must stop overnight, check in advance for hotels that allow pets.
  • Be sure that your pet is properly tagged and its rabies tag is firmly attached.
  • Pet Travel Kit: food, water, and dishes; can opener (if needed); leash; a few treats; favorite toy; and some type of bedding.
  • To be on the safe side, ask your veterinarian if a sedative would be appropriate.
  • Don't forget the scooper and plastic bags for cleanup!
  • SHOCK: Some house plants are susceptible to shock when moving.
  • TEMPERATURE: In Fahrenheit, temps below 35 or above 95 for more than any hour can kill many plants.
  • WATER: Most house plants can survive for a seven to ten days without water with little harm, but they should be moist when placed in cartons.
  • DARKNESS/LIGHT: house plants can tolerate darkness for up to a week, if other conditions are favorable. When first exposing plants to light after prolonged darkness, do so gradually to avoid wilting and sun scald.
  • CUTTINGS: For convenience and space saving, you can take cuttings of your favorite plant (if possible). Most cutting can survive for several days if kept in a plastic bag containing damp vermiculite, peat moss, or perlite.
  • Most professional movers will accept plants, if not more than 150 miles and/or delivery within 24 hours.
  • If you are moving across state lines, check federal and state regulations for quarantines or other restrictions.
  • Several states require that plants be inspected and declared "pest free".
  • Some states have random vehicle checks, while others inspect all house plants at the border.
  • You must arrange for inspection of your plants by an authorized state department of agriculture inspector.
  • Never carry plants in the car trunk, which can get too hot in summer, and too cold in winter.
  • Dispose of flammables such as fireworks, cleaning fluids, matches, acids, chemistry sets, aerosol cans, ammunition, etc.
  • Drain fuel from mowers and other machinery, and discard partly used cans of oil, paint, thinner, or other substances that might leak.
  • Carefully tape and place in individual waterproof bags any jars of liquid you plan to take with you.
  • Refillable tanks must be purged and sealed by a local propane gas dealer. Discard nonrefillable tanks. Some carriers and the military do not permit shipment of any propane tanks. Check with your moving company first.
  • Have rugs and draperies cleaned. Leave both wrapped when they are returned from the cleaners.
  • Obtain a written appraisal of antique items to verify the value. Avoid waxing or oiling wooden antiques and fine wood furniture prior to moving because some products may soften the wood, making it vulnerable to imprinting from furniture pads.
  • Think twice before dismantling your outside TV antennae; a new one may cost less than moving the present one.
  • Third-party servicing will likely be needed before moving such items as hot tubs, large-screen TV's, and some exercise equipment.
  • Talk to your moving company about PRE and POST move servicing of washer, dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, grandfather clock, satellite dish, etc.

Professional movers provide a valuable service by moving thousands of people to new homes each year. While almost no move is ever completely stress-free, when you use a professional mover, all of the "heavy lifting" will be done for you. Movers will pack your possessions, load them into the truck, drive the truck to your destination and unload and unpack your shipment at your new home. Movers can also provide you with warehouse storage, move your piano up and down flights of stairs, transport your automobile, and service your appliances to insure their safe transportation.

If you are considering moving yourself, especially if you will be moving interstate, you should ask a lot of questions and compute the actual costs of self-moving before you sign an agreement with a truck rental company. The information in this part of the Consumer Guide will help you to calculate self-move costs and give you a basis of comparison when evaluating the price and value of professional moving.

Rental Charge. For an interstate move, you will need to provide the origin and destination cities and the date you plan to move to the truck rental company. Depending on equipment availability in certain locations, prices may vary. Peak season runs from the end of May until the end of September, so truck rental rates may be higher during that time of year. Most people move at the beginning of a month or the end of the month, so prices may be even higher during these times. The rental charge you are quoted includes a rental deposit that may be refunded depending on the condition of the vehicle upon its return, and a certain number of free miles (approximately 10% greater than the estimated actual mileage). The rental charge does not include state taxes or other equipment you may need to complete your move, such as cartons, boxes, pads and dollies. You'll need a day or two to pack and another to unpack, so be sure your quote includes these extra days plus the days you will need for driving.

Make sure you rent the right size truck! Remember, efficiently loading a truck is an art, not a science. After a long, hard day of loading all of your worldly possessions into the back of a rental truck, the last thing you need to discover is that you have run out of space but not out of furniture.

Automobiles. How many cars do you have? Are you going to drive or tow the vehicle(s)? A trailer package from a rental company can cost an additional $150, plus another $45 for the trailer hitch along with a $200 deposit depending on how many days you are renting the trailer. If you are driving your own vehicle, you'll need to factor in wear and tear on your vehicle (34.5¢ a mile is the current standard mileage rate according to the IRS).

Insurance Charges. It may cost an additional $20 a day or more for insurance during your move. Check the policies that are offered carefully. Most car insurance policies do not cover truck rentals, so you will need to purchase separate liability insurance and property damage insurance. Also, if you tow your car, you'll need separate insurance to cover any damage that occurs during the towing. Most of these additional policies do not cover you against theft; so if your goods are stolen (truck theft can be a problem if you are leaving the fully loaded vehicle unattended while you spend the night at a hotel) you may not have any protection.

Pads and Dollies. You'll need to rent pads so you do not scratch your furniture. Pads generally cost $10 a dozen; with a 26 foot truck (four bedroom house), you will need at least 3-dozen pads. You may need appliance dollies, utility dollies, or furniture dollies to help move heavy furniture and appliances. Each dolly will cost an additional $5 to $10 per rental.

Per Move Value of Time. Who is going to do the packing and unpacking? Who will pick-up, load, drive and unload the rental truck? Who will drive the automobile? If you are doing all of this yourself, it takes a lot of time. Figure out your average hourly wage and multiply it times the total number of hours you estimate it will take to pack, pick-up the truck, load, drive, unload, etc. for you and your spouse/family. This is your per move value of time.

Packing and Loading the Truck. You might be able to collect free boxes in anticipation of the move, but to minimize damages, especially for an interstate move, it is highly recommended that you purchase specialized boxes, like wardrobes, dish packs, and mattress containers. You'll need tape to secure the boxes and paper padding to secure the contents of the containers before they are loaded on the truck. The cost of packing materials may vary by state and state taxes will also apply.

Expect to pay about $200 for a 4-bedroom home, plus another $100 or so each for the kitchen and a home office, if you purchase your boxes from a truck rental company. If you need wardrobe boxes for hanging garments, expect to pay about $25 each. You'll also need tape and rope to secure your cartons properly.

Some truck rental companies also offer loading and unloading service to load your furniture and the boxes that you have packed yourself. This service can add several hundred dollars to the cost of your move; be sure to get an estimate before your sign-up for this service. Plus, the rental company's liability for any damage that occurs to your goods during the loading and unloading process will likely be minimal or even non-existent.

Mileage Charges. Mileage charges are usually included in the rental agreement but may be limited; an additional mileage charge may be assessed at an average cost per mile, usually around 40 cents a mile for each additional mile over the limit. Be sure to read your contract to see if there are extra mileage charges or fees for one-way rentals.

Fuel Charges. When you pick up your truck, the vehicle will be full of fuel. You must return the vehicle with a full tank or the rental company may charge a higher than average price per gallon to fill the vehicle. You'll need to calculate the cost of fuel used while driving the rental vehicle. A 26-foot truck that is fully loaded will average about 10 miles per gallon. If you travel approximately 1200 miles/10 miles a gallon, you will consume 120 gallons of fuel. At an average price of $1.35 cents a gallon x 120 gallons, your fuel cost will be $162.

Appliance Servicing. Refrigerators, grandfather clocks, washing machines, gas stoves, etc. all may require special preparation and handling to prevent them from being damaged when they are moved. You may need to hire several specialists to ensure proper handling of your possessions. These appliance service charges will increase the cost of your self-move.

Destination. Is your destination residence available for occupancy? If not, where will you store your possessions? You may need to secure a warehouse and unload all your household goods into storage. The most common storage facilities available for the self-mover are mini warehouse storage units. While functional, these units may provide less than adequate protection for your belongings. Security may be minimal, usually a manager sleeping on the premise, no insurance coverage, and no protection from fire or smoke damage.

When your new residence becomes available you will need to rent another truck, reload all your possessions from the warehouse, deliver your goods to the final destination, and unload everything one last time.

Other Additional Costs to Consider:
  • Good friends and relatives that help you move will add additional expenses like food and beverages.
  • Do you have children and are they too young to care for themselves? If you are doing everything yourself, you may have childcare expenses.
  • Back injuries can occur when moving heavy articles like furniture. You may want to purchase a back brace to reduce lower back strain.
  • Can you drive to the new destination in one day, or will you be required to spend one or more nights in a hotel? Who will watch the truck while you sleep? Security may also be a concern.
  • Tolls for bridges and/or highways may also be applicable.
  • Accessorial (Additional) Services - services such as packing, unpacking, or shuttle service that you request to be performed (or are necessary because of landlord requirements or other special circumstances). Charges for these services are in addition to the transportation charges.
  • Advanced Charges - charges for services not performed by the mover but instead by a professional, craftsman or other third party at your request. The charges for these services are paid for by the mover and added to your bill of lading charges.
  • Bill of Lading - the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. It is your responsibility to understand the bill of lading before you sign it. If you do not agree with something on the bill of lading, do not sign it until you are satisfied that it is correct. The bill of lading is an important document. Don't lose or misplace your copy.
  • Binding/Non-Binding Estimate - a binding estimate is an agreement made in advance with the mover that guarantees the total cost of the move based on the quantities and services shown on the estimate. A non-binding estimate is the carrier's approximation of the cost based on the estimated weight of the shipment and the accessorial services requested. A non-binding estimate is not binding on the carrier and the final charges will be based on the actual weight and tariff provisions in effect.
  • Guaranteed Pickup and Delivery Service - an additional level of service whereby dates of service are guaranteed, with the mover providing reimbursement for delays. This premium service is often subject to minimum weight requirements.
  • High Value Article - items included in a shipment that are valued at more than $100 per pound. These items should be disclosed to the mover to ensure that they are protected accordingly.
  • Inventory - the detailed descriptive list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item.
  • Order for Service - the document authorizing the mover to transport your household goods.
  • Pickup and Delivery Charges - separate transportation charges applicable for transporting your shipment between the warehouse and your residence.
  • Shuttle Service - use of a smaller vehicle to provide service to residences that are not accessible to the mover's normal linehaul equipment (large moving vans).
  • Storage-In-Transit (SIT) - temporary warehouse storage of your shipment pending further transportation; for example, if your new home isn't quite ready to occupy. Added charges for SIT service and final delivery charges from the warehouse will apply.
  • Transportation Charges - charges for the vehicle transportation portion of your move. These charges apply in addition to the additional service charges.
  • Valuation - the degree of "worth" of the shipment. The valuation charge that you are assessed compensates the mover for assuming a greater degree of liability than that provided for in the base transportation charges.
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