Moving and Packing Tips

Moving with Children

What’s the best way to help children adjust to all the changes of moving? While there are many answers to this question, here are some general tips:

  1. Talk to your children early, openly and often about the move and what changes it will bring
  2. Keep to your normal routine as much as possible, and arrange to continue your child’s current activities in the new community
  3. Keep favorite items (toys, books, etc.) accessible
  4. Have children help pack a special box with their most treasured toys – they can even decorate the box!
  5. If possible, take your children to the new community before the move to introduce them to their new surroundings
  6. Let your children get involved with planning and packing if possible, and ask for their input on how they would like to decorate their new rooms
  7. Above all, ask for thoughts and opinions, and listen.

Moving with Pets

  • Before moving your pet, here are some important reminders:
  • Schedule an examination by a veterinarian
  • Your veterinarian may suggest a tranquilizer or other precautionary measure
  • Obtain copies of your pet’s health and vaccination records and update identification tags

If you will travel by air, contact the airline well in advance to check regulations and services and to make reservations. Book a weekday flight when there tends to be more cargo room. Also, try to book a direct flight to reduce your pet’s confinement time. Select a portable air-transport kennel that’s large enough for your pet to stand and move around. Most airlines sell or rent these special carriers. Let your pet get accustomed to the kennel in advance of the trip. Mark the container “live Animal,” and affix a label that includes your pet’s name, new address, phone number, and special handling instructions.

If you will travel by car, acquaint your pet with car travel by taking it for short drives around the neighborhood. Don’t feed your pet for several hours prior to your trip. Do, however, pack a canteen of fresh, cool water and stop frequently for drinks and walks. If you stay overnight in a hotel, determine ahead of time if pets are welcome.

Birds and small pets such as hamsters can travel by car in their cages, provided the cage is stable, properly ventilated, and protected from drafts. Covering the cage may help to keep your pet calm.

Finally – and this is important for all pets at all times – never leave an animal unattended in a car. Even in moderately warm weather, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in just a few minutes. Conversely, in winter months, the temperature can drop well below freezing before you realize it.

Resources for Moving with Pets

The following links are to sites that you may find useful.

Find a Pet Shipper

The Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Assoc. Intl., Inc.

Pet Hotel and Travel

Pet Community

Pet Travel Forum

Pet Care

Moving Day

One of the busiest days of your life is about to arrive. Try to complete all the tasks below prior to move day so that you can be home during the loading process; often drivers will have questions that only you can answer. It is important that you or someone you’ve designated be available throughout the loading process

Mark items you don’t want loaded

Clearly mark and set aside items you don’t want loaded. This will remind you to tell the driver what not to load as you conduct your pre-load walkthrough. Make sure your important paperwork pertaining to the move doesn’t get packed and shipped with your household goods!

Pack special items for the kids

Have the kids pack a box of their “special” items. Point this box out to the driver so it’s one of the first to be unloaded.

You may want to arrange for someone to take care of the kids (and pets) while the movers are packing and loading your items. Have the caregiver bring the kids home prior to the truck leaving as it important for young children to understand where their belongings are going.

Don’t Forget

See our list of non-transportable items If you are uncertain what items can’t be loaded, ask your relocation consultant for a list.

Clear walkways

Make it safe and easy for your movers to get in and out of your house by removing all obstructions:

  • Move potted plants and planters from front porch, walkways, and driveways.
  • Remove all door and floor mats.
  • Remove all rugs. The crew will protect the floors with a specially designed floor covering that does not slip.
  • Remove low-hanging items such as wind chimes or hanging plants.
  • Disconnect the spring on the screen door so that it stays open during the loading process.
  • Point out special items

Once the mover arrives, point out items that are most special to you during the walkthrough. All your items will be handled professionally, but take a moment to show them which ones mean the most to you Point out the boxes you would like to have unloaded first, if they are not going into storage. These boxes may include kitchen and bathroom items, or your children’s toys.

Before the driver leaves:

  1. Make sure you understand all the paperwork you are signing before the driver departs. If there is something that is confusing to you, ask your driver to explain it before you sign it.
  2. Provide the driver with your destination contact information. Take down any information the driver can provide such as his cell phone, pager and satellite-tracking information. If something changes, you won’t have to wait to be contacted.
  3. Ask the driver if your shipment is the last he/she will be loading. Find out when the last shipment goes onto the trailer. This will give you an indication as to when they will be departing for your new home. Ask the driver about his/her plans for delivering your items.
  4. Find out as many details as you can prior to the driver leaving your residence.
  5. The driver may give you a delivery window. Keep in mind that it is really only an estimate at the time of loading. Many factors can change the schedule for the driver, so try to remain flexible. Ask the driver to call you with changes so that you can adjust your plans accordingly. If you have a delivery spread (a sequence of 2 or more days that your shipment can be delivered on and still be considered on time) understand that your belongings can and may be delivered on any one of those days.
  6. Take one last sweep of the house before the driver leaves. Look through all closets, shelves, in the garage, attic, crawl space, storage unit, under the stairs, on the walls and anywhere else things may be hiding. You do not want to find out, after the driver is on the way, that something was left behind.

Pack Like a Pro

If you decide to do your own packing, it can be a real money-saver. But it does take extra time and energy to get the job done right. The right materials and expert guidance from us, you can pack your whole house successfully and efficiently.

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 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 find PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) packing tape to be the most effective to seal boxes. Do not use masking tape or narrow cellophane tape.

Packing Preparation

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:

  1. Make a schedule, allowing enough time leading up to moving day
  2. Pack items in the basement, garage, or attic first – these items usually aren’t needed right away
  3. Stay organized by packing room by room
  4. Designate work areas in each room
  5. When a room is completed, sort cartons by light, medium, and heavy – limit your heaviest cartons to 50 pounds each
  6. Clearly label cartons or items that you do not want to transport on the van
  7. Pack for Success
  8. It’s recommended that your packer handle the following:
  9. Marble or glass tabletops, heavy wall ornaments and mirrors 40″ x 60″ or larger
  10. Pool table
  11. Bulky, fragile items like large trophies, statues, chandeliers, etc.
  12. Major appliances

Here are a few more suggestions for a successful pack:

Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, nontransportable 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
  • Radio-pharmaceuticals
  • Matches
  • Lighter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Fireworks
  • Oxygen bottles

Other items not recommended for transport on the van include:

  • Firearms
  • 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:
  • Cash
  • Collections (i.e., coins)
  • Important personal papers (i.e., deeds, wills)
  • Negotiable papers (i.e., bonds, stocks, certificates)
  • Jewelry
  • Moving documents
  • Labeling Hints

Each and every moving carton must be labeled:

  • 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

  1. Start with out-of-season items. Next, pack things used infrequently. Leave until the last minute things you’ll need until moving day.
  2. Empty drawers of breakables, spillables, non-transportable items and anything that would puncture or damage other items while moving.
  3. Pack similar items together. Do not pack a delicate china figurine in the same moving carton with cast-iron frying pans, for example.
  4. 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.
  5. Wind electrical cords, fastening them so they do not dangle.
  6. 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.
  7. Place a two- or three-inch layer of crushed paper in the bottom of cartons for cushioning.
  8. Build up the layers, with the heaviest things on the bottom, medium-weight next, and lightest on top.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Seal moving cartons tightly with tape except for those containing items that must be left open for the van line operator’s inspection.


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