1. Get the right boxes.
First and foremost, make sure you’ve got the proper boxes for packing your stuff. If a moving company is handling that part of your relocation, you should be just fine. But if you’re undertaking the packing on your own, you’ll need to give some thought to the boxes.
To start with, consider the size of the boxes. Small, fragile items crammed into a big box could break under the weight of bigger belongings. So if you’ve got both large and small items, you’ll need boxes of various sizes.
Also, look at what type of box is required. If you’re packing your TV, for instance, try loading it into the original manufacturer’s box. (You did keep that box, right?) How about your grandma’s china set? Invest in a sturdy box designed for packing and protecting dishes.
Keep in mind that boxes you’ve had around for a while or boxes from liquor or grocery stores — particularly if they’ve been soaked by water — might not hold up during a move.
2. Provide padding.
If you’re packing breakable items, padding is a must. That’s especially true if a box isn’t entirely full, as items can shift and break.
What should you use for padding? Bubble wrap and foam peanuts are among your options. Tissue paper or plain newsprint are great for wrapping bowls, plates, mugs and other dishes.
If you’re trying to pinch pennies, then you can use towels, pillows, blankets, comforters, T-shirts or even stuffed animals to offer some cushion for packed belongings.
3. Make sure you’re covered.
If you’ve got a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, your possessions might be covered during a move — and even then, only some of them. Check with your insurer to find out what your policy says.
What if you lack homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, or your current policy doesn’t cover your property while it’s in transit?
During a state-to-state move, you’re covered. Under federal law, a registered moving company must offer two types of liability coverage: “released value protection” and “full value protection.”
“Released value” coverage is included at no extra cost in your moving package and will reimburse you at up to 60 cents a pound, while “full value” coverage costs extra (about 1 percent of the value of the belongings being moved) but provides fuller protection. Other layers of coverage are available through third-party insurers, but those come at a price, of course.
Before a mover loads a single box into a truck, be sure you understand exactly what’s covered and what’s not.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates interstate movers, warns that you shouldn’t sign a delivery receipt for your household goods if you spot language about releasing the company or its partners from any liability.
4. Keep valuables with you.
Cash, credit cards, coin collections, jewelry, irreplaceable photographs and critical documents like birth certificates and passports are among the items that should be taken with you or be shipped separately.
John Egan is editor-in-chief at SpareFoot, which operates the country’s largest marketplace for finding and booking self-storage.
In the hustle and bustle of moving, your belongings can take a beating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want your collection of wine glasses or your vintage record player to remain intact, follow these four steps.