Packing Tips for Shipping . . . and photos

A few hint if you are moving to Hawaii and planning on shipping a few things in boxes . . .

First off, get heavy-duty boxes and heavy-duty shipping tape. Second, tape every seam and every edge. I think I might have mentioned all that before. Here are some other (hard) lessons learned.

Do not assume something like Cast Iron pots will survive the mailing process without the same precautions you would take for a piece of glass or china. They are strong, yes, but also brittle. I made the mistake of assuming they would be OK with just light padding around them. Not so. If they get dropped and hit just right, their own weight will be their demise. Ergo, extra large box so that you can have plenty of padding around them. I knew I had lost one, but just realized both of them were cracked. I should have labeled the boxes as fragile and paid the extra fee but I thought, you know, cast iron.

It’s a no-brainer for stoneware/china. I packed our Demby dishes pretty well, but obviously, I should have had more padding separating the mugs and cups. We lost three of our four most favorite mugs and three of our cups. All of the plates survived. The cups and mugs were individually wrapped in bubble-wrap, put into boxes (four to a box), and those boxes were inside a larger box which had padding all around the smaller boxes. Again, whatever you imagine is a sufficient amount of padding, double it.

The flat-rate boxes are a good choice for many items, but the boxes themselves better be well reinforced by whatever is inside. Meaning, the boxes with things like books, negatives, or anything that filled the boxes and made them fairly rigid, those boxes did OK. The boxes that had a mix of things and were not *completely* filling every nook and cranny got crushed, causing the boxes to split. This is where taping every edge would have helped. Some lauan or stiff plastic sheeting reinforcing the inside surfaces of the boxes would also have helped. Weight is not an issue since it’s flat rate. Use steel plates if you have them.

Here’s what some of the boxes looked like when I got them.

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That goes for larger boxes as well. First, again, blow the extra buck to buy the heavy-duty cardboard boxes (I got them at Home Depot, but anyone who sells regular boxes will also have the Heavy Duty versions of them), but also, make sure there are no “soft areas” for as sure as liquid excrement flows downhill, those areas will be punctured, ripped, or otherwise violated.

I should have snapped a few photos of the larger boxes. One of them was well on its way to being cut in half. 

By the way, you might think that using clothes or other soft material as padding/filling would work well. No. Get yourself some peanuts. Styrofoam peanuts are preferred, but I imagine actual peanuts would work as well if a tad messier.

Another hint: in some of the boxes, I used small items as “filler” — that’s how we got to ship stuff that we now look at and say “why did we ship this?”. That’s ok as long as the “filler” is really packed in there. If it can move, even a bit, crushed and split box will be the result.

BONUS HINT – while we still would still ship a few things, were we to do this again, the amount we would ship would be a lot less. A lot less. Let me repeat it . . .  A. Lot. Less.

Some of what we shipped was what one might call “emotional shipping” . . . stuff that was difficult to sell/give/throw away. Some of what we shipped fell into the “legitimate” category, and I covered that a bit in my previous post. One metric I used was “if it’s cheaper to ship than to buy new, ship” . . . provided, of course, that we had the room.

That works better if one is doing a shipping container. The whole purpose of what we did was to get rid of cumbersome possessions . . . yet, here I am opening boxes and saying “this is useful . . . but not right now; where are going to put it?”

For, that is the problem with what we did. The whole idea was to downsize, and we did. BUT, living in a two bedroom apartment does not leave that much extra room. Had we rented unfurnished, and if we would have blown some money to get the “right” things, we could be more efficient with our storage and space usage.

Right now, however, we’re trying to work out what additional furniture we want/need for the PC ad sewing machine, where we might put that furniture, and where we might store all the stuff associated with the PC and Sewing Machine.

We’ll work it out, but that’s the crux of the matter . . . we have interests and hobbies and, like all interests and hobbies, they require space. They also accounted for much of what we shipped. 

Anyway, that’s a problem I’ll tackle in another post. Right now, back to shipping.

One last hint about shipping things, and it’s something I said before. Unless you are doing a container (20′ x 8′ x 8′), or even if you are, start the process early.

By far, that was our biggest mistake . . . we waited until way too late before deciding what to do. Because of it, getting rid of everything seemed like the better idea. Because we had waited, neither paying for a shipping container nor getting rid of stuff were really good options. Really, at that point, it mattered not what we decided. Each decision had a different version of “suck”, but “suck” was the main component of both choices. If there was a third choice, we could not think of it at the time or it was associated with an ever bigger version of “suck”. Hence, mailing stuff it was.

That said, having had more than a month to rethink the chains of events, we still think we made the best decision we could have. The only regret, and it’s a slight one, is not getting rid of more.

In that regard, I’ll repeat myself . . . you can’t get rid of everything. Not if you have any interests or hobbies. What you can do, which I think we did pretty well, is to pare down as much as possible. Sure, we could have shipped a bit less. And yes, I’ve looked at a few things we thought at the time were a  good idea to ship and now wonder “what were we thinking!”

But, many of those things were filler items. I now know . . . put what you want into individual boxes and pack those boxes in larger boxes and use peanuts to fill the empty spaces. Tape the crap out of everything, and use good tape.

Let’s see . . . what other hints?

. . . did I mention mailing less? How about “more padding”? Stronger boxes?

Well, then . . . I think I covered everything I can think of right now.

Here are some photos. This is the little nature area at the Old Kona Airport park. I mentioned it before, but here are a few more photos.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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13 Responses to Packing Tips for Shipping . . . and photos

  1. sandra getgood says:

    If I ever move again, I will try to remember all this….but I really am hoping another move, even to Hawaii, won’t be necessary. Love the piglets in your pictures. And has the monitor arrived yet?


    • disperser says:

      The monitor arrived yesterday . . . and the box looks like I shipped it. That means that, at least outwardly, there is no indication of substantial trauma. The proof will be unpacking it and turning it on. But, first I need to order a computer desk that will work within the space we have.


  2. Eddy Winko says:

    A PC, sewing machine, pigs and cacti………I’m almost at home.


  3. AnnMarie says:

    I’m glad that most of your items arrived intact, and I guess it’s time to find new favorites. As for having room for all your stuff in that small apartment, I planned yet another mental rearranging session a few days ago and yesterday we finally brought home our last items from storage, though I have to wait to get someone to help with the physical rearranging. It’ll be a tight squeeze, our aparment will not grace the pages of “House Beautiful”, but it’ll have all the things to make it our home. Best wishes with your arranging and rearranging!

    Oh, and the pics of the plants and flowers are glorious . . . not so those of the boxes.


    • disperser says:

      Right now, we’re keeping the storage unit for a few more months. It’s not that we don’t have room here. It’s more that we don’t have the right furniture to put things in and I don’t want a bunch of boxes or, worse yet, a bunch of unboxed stuff all over the place.

      I imagine that eventually we’ll absorb everything into the condo we’re renting. We’ll see.


  4. Goes to prove what I’ve always said, you buy cheap you get cheap, and the postal service certainly looks like a cheap “service” ; The only people who can really afford to buy cheap are the exceedingly filthy rich; they just chuck the stuff away and buy afresh!


  5. mvschulze says:

    Glad to see your back to posting phenomenal images. Beautiful. I dread the thought of moving, even locally. We’ve never sold a home yet, so 40+ years of stuff is …. waiting for the day of reckoning. But (after taking “digital” pics.,) we’ve parted with quite a few “keepsake” items. One small step for man – who cares for mankind! M :-)


    • disperser says:

      Yeah, we’re trying not to build up again, but it be hard.

      I can’t even imagine 40 years worth of stuff, although a lot of what we had was approaching similar age.


  6. Wowza! Some of those boxes really took a beating. :-(
    Maybe the Postal Handlers are into BDSM! :o
    I have never had to ship anything related to a move (everything went in the moving truck), so I naively thought it couldn’t be too bad to ship stuff. Boy, am I wrong! Thanks for sharing your experiences and your how-to tips!
    We live and learn. :-)
    Love the pics…especially the one looking down that road! Love all the greens, orange and yellow! :-)
    HUGS!!! :-)


  7. PiedType says:

    I’m thinking the USPS shipping handlers moonlight as airport luggage handlers. Cacti in Hawaii? That’s definitely a surprise.


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