Shifting home can be a pain, be it two blocks away or to another part of the world. But again, its a necessity for us unlucky ones. We flit from place to place and tugging along our worldly belongings.
I have shifted base so many times within these three decades of my existence that I am a pro at packing now. But, there’s always the starting trouble. Its like a ‘writers block’ when they have the material but don’t know where to start. I have the packing boxes and the cases but never know where to start, while the clock keeps ticking away. Then with a jolt I wake up and start packing with renewed vigor.
The most sensible decision is to limit your worldly possessions. Be it the clothes, utensils or furniture. Always stick to furnished places and replace old clothes with new instead of burying the old ones under the new. The gist – don’t spend your hard-earned greens on things which you may have to leave behind while shifting an year later. Or will cause you to shell out a fat bundle just to get them transported to your new abode.
That was advice for the smart few. For the ones who have been stupid enough to stock up against your better judgment, over the years I learnt a few important lessons in the packing-shifting field that just may come in handy while shifting base.
- Start packing as soon as all the legalities are completed. Don’t wait till the last weekend. Instead pack a little everyday.
- Start by pulling out all the cases and rucksacks that you stuffed away over the years hoping never to use them again, except for that occasional outing/vacation. Packing boxes are a good option for such occasions and they are easily available for a few bucks or sometimes even for free at the local supermarket.
- Keep the following things handy while packing:
Plastic bags, labels (for easy identification), bubble-wraps and tissues (for the delicate), clean news print (for cushioning), packing tape or gummed tape, aluminum foil, cling wrap, scissors, box knife, plastic ties, rubber-bands, note pad and pencil.
- Pack one room at a time and that too one area of the room in one box. Its best not to pack things from different rooms in one box as it will be difficult to find when in a hurry or while unpacking. Keep notes on what you pack and label them appropriately before storing them away.
- Start by packing away things that you wont need for the next busy fortnight. Pack away all the DVDs / CDs, books and magazines. Avoid packing too many books in one carton as books can be incredibly heavy. Pack them alternatively pages – spine – pages – spine, to give them proper support and avoid damaging them.
- Kitchen and bathroom should ideally be the last places to pack unless there are utensils and toiletries that have spares and can be packed away.
- Never exceed the gross weight of the boxes. Use appropriate cushioning inside the boxes depending on the kind of items being packed. Towels, old clothes and news prints can be used as good cushioning. Paper should be used as cushioning for light stuff only as they tend to flatten when used against heavier items. Use cloth and towels for the heavier ones.
- Use bubble wrap and tissues for fragile items and glassware. Wrap each of these items separately.
- Put the china in a separate box from light weight glass items. The plates should be arranged so that they range from the bigger to the smaller with cushioning in between and the edges. Don’t pile too many together so they don’t break due to their own weight.
- The closure of the boxes are as important as cushioning. Make sure that the top as well as the bottom is taped securely with a strong tape. Do not over-stuff boxes. Label all boxes according to where they belong. You will appreciate this while unpacking.
- Mark and label fragile boxes with care. Do the labeling in bold so that those boxes are not dropped or kicked around. Also mark which side should stay up.
- Mirrors, glass/marble tops for tables and glass shelves should be packed one in each case. They should first be wrapped in bubble wrap or soft towels and then secured with packing tape to strengthen them. Cups, tumblers and bowls too should be wrapped each item separately and then packed together in groups.
- Shoes should go into shoe boxes or shoe bags and then packed into packing boxes.
- Foldable clothes can go into bags and carton boxes. Use big suitcases for hanging clothes so as not to crumple and crease them. Small appliances can be wrapped and stored in the clothes cases using the clothes as cushioning.
- Cushions, pillows and mattresses should be wrapped either with cling wrap or mattress bags to avoid soiling.
- Do not pack perishable food items for long journeys. For shorter journeys make sure you store them in the refrigerator as soon as they reach the destination. Place the freezer / refrigerator near any convenient plug point temporarily.
- Wrap the head of the mops and brooms with plastic packets and store in the cleaned and dried mopping buckets.
- Clean and dry all big appliances before transporting them. All pipes and wires should either be packed away or taped to the appliances. Proper cushioning should be provided where required.
- Potted flowers and plants should be transported carefully at the back of the vans to avoid tipping and crushing. These will survive short distances but very difficult for long distances.
- It is better to have a lot of boxes that you can lift instead of a few boxes which give u backache.
- There are some items that would have to travel with you and not the van like jewelery, piggy banks, stamp – coin collections, important documents, family photographs and any other item that may require personal care.
- When all the packing is completed you will still find a number of daily items lying around. Use plastic packets to collect them and pack them all together in a carton. They can be marked as miscellaneous.
- Someone reliable and responsible should be in charge of the transporting. Make sure every item is handled carefully and stacked in the correct manner.
- Unload boxes according to labels in their allotted rooms. Kitchen stuff shouldn’t go into the bedroom. Leave enough floor space to allow unrestricted movement.
- Unpack breakables over the box you’re taking them out of, that way, if you happen to drop an item, it will land on some packing material, thereby reducing its chance of breakage.
These are about all I can think of at the moment to make the packing – shifting – unpacking ritual less painful. But again, you can never be too careful.