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Question DetailsAsked on 6/20/2013

What is the best method for sending moving boxes cross country?

I will be moving from the SW to the NE and I will only be shipping boxes of personal and household items, no furniture. Would a mover or shipper be best and which companies?

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I presume you are talking about items you will be packing and moving yourself - if not, then you are pretty much tied to a commercial household goods moving company for packing and loading, so by that time might as well stay with them for shipping and unloading too.

Unclear if you are talking a commercial move or self-move, so some of below may not apply:

Cheapest method depends on weight - generally speaking, for very small shipments (a couple hundred pounds or so) USPS Parcel Post can be cheapest, for larger shipments (particularly if palletized) then a less-than-truckload shipper like Pacific Intermountain Express (PIE) or Yellow Freight, Central, SAIA or such can be cheapest, for large moves (a full container worth - about 15-20 tons) then a shipping container hauled by a commercial trucking company (arranged through a shipping broker). For vehicle shipment, if you are doing a household move, shipping a second vehicle with the household goods can be cheaper too, especially if it fills an otherwise partly empty truck or container, because then the household goods interstate tarriff rate applies.

For books and printed materials, unless you will be driving it yourself, USPS Media Rate is the cheapest - they lose a lot of money on that service. Check for what can be shipped media rate - books, magazines, CD's and DVD's and VHS, certain type of computer printouts. Gets your weight way down if you have a lot of books, like engineers, lawyers, historians, etc. Of course, you may be making several trips to the PO to mail them and you need to arrange for a delivery address on the other end if they might get there before you (wait to mail just before you leave), because each has to be boxed with a 70# weight limit per box. Do NOT use the larger size book boxes (1.5 cubic foot) - stick with the foot square 1 cu ft ones that weight about 40# whenn loaded with books - bigger ones self destroy in handling because they are too heavy. Be sure to use heavy fiberglass-reinforced boxing tape to make one full wrap all the way around the box in each of the 3 directions, PLUS with the clear box tape (the 2 or 3 inch wide stuff) double-tape ALL open or glued seams plus tape along ALL other edges, because otherwise when the boxes come in the corners and edges will have split open, possibly spilling some contents. Be sure to insure. They don't handle them gently, so no valuable items - but for normal books and discs I have never had noticeable damage. When you load box put a large garbage bag down inside first, and after loading twist and tape it closed on top - that way if the box gets wet the contents hopefully don't. For tapes or CD/DVD shipping, put a layer of bubblewrap (cheap in rolls at office supply stores) around all surfaces inside the garbage bag liner, and one or 2 intermediate layers. If you have enough for a pallet talk to them about pallet rate for media items - cost not much less but a lot less damage for a shrink-wrapped pallet than individual boxes.

Boxes, tape, shrink wrap, bubble wrap, foam beans for shipping is about 1/3-1/2 price at office supply stores like OfficeMax or Staples as at UPS store or UHaul or FedEx store. If movers are packing, let them use their boxes and wrapping paper - a bit heavier, and not noticeably more expensive.

One other alternative which can be cheapest of all if you get a good deal on the mileage rate, for an apartment sized move, is to rent a Ryder or UHaul truck or trailer and some moving blankets and load and drive it yourself. By the time you figure rental at maybe $40-70/day, mileage rate, motels, meals, and fuel versus the cost of commercial shipping plus airfare, it can be better if you are willing and able to do 10 hours or more of driving a day. Do NOT try this if you tend to fall asleep on long drives, or have never done a multi-day driving trip before unless you will have 2 drivers.

You will need to figure how much stuff you have, both in terms of # of cubic feet or pallets and in weight (including boxes and pallets), both if you are renting a truck (to figure truck size) or to get quotes from different types of firms - many have estimators on their websites. Be sure to emphasize shipping household goods - ICC tariffs are lower for household goods than almost anything else.

Bear in mind common carrier insurance coverage will be no more than $0.60/lb, if any, so arrange for insurance coverage - either through a moving insurance broker, or as a rider on your homeowners policy, if available. See commentary here on shipping insurance - response was keyed to a high-value item move, but commentary on insurance is valid for all types of moves.. Also addresses selecting a moving company -

If you google the following search phrase, you will find several Angie's List articles on moving - nationwide moving companies have guides and checklists on their websites, too - selecting a mover Angie's

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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