nor that packing for it would be fun. But it’s gotta get done, right? So today I’d like to follow up on my previous two posts about sorting out what to pack to now discuss how to do it so that it’s more efficient and less painful.
Even if your international movers will be helping pack your belongings, there are some things you’ll want to get a head start on by yourself (particularly where more valuable or delicate items are concerned). You can request that your movers send you some packing supplies ahead of time; otherwise, businesses like U-Haul or Mail Boxes, Etc. are great resources for obtaining moving boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and whatnot. You can also often find large cardboard boxes in the alleys/lots outside stores or warehouses that are disposing such from their own shipments, or even ask friends and family who might have some left over from previous moves—you never know!
Let us help!
Regardless of how you come by your supplies, I highly recommend wardrobe boxes that can be assembled to have their own metal bar running across the top on the inside—that way your clothes on hangers can go straight from the closet to the box (covered with garment/dry-cleaning/garbage bags, though, for added protection). Also, make sure every container is sturdy and in as new of condition as possible, because moving to London is going to put your stuff through its paces! Sitting by the docks and riding the ship in cargo can make for damp conditions, not to mention the jostling around that can damage box corners. Pad your items well and pack those boxes so they’re solid and won’t get easily crushed.
Having your containers ready is one thing, but don’t just start throwing stuff in them willy-nilly and leave it until after moving to London to sort them out. Keep a running inventory on everything you pack, as you pack it. All you need is paper and pen to accomplish this (though might I recommend eventually transferring it into an Excel spreadsheet for your records?), and you’ll be SO glad you did.
First of all, your international movers will probably request an itemized list of what they’re shipping on your behalf, along with an estimate of value on each item. UK customs obviously wants to know, too, what’s entering the country and might even impose duty on some the personal goods you’re moving to London.
Second, just for your own reference, having this list on hand will help you verify whether everything you shipped did indeed arrive. And if you use a labeling system like I’ll discuss in the next section, an inventory will spare you from writing all your contents on the outside of your boxes, maintaining some privacy as well as security. Why advertise what people could steal? I also recommend keeping inventory on what isn’t moving to London but staying home in storage—that way, when you return to it months or years later, you’ll know where to find everything.
You might also consider taking photos of valuable possessions as an added layer of documentation. If you do this, print out each photo and, on the back of it, jot down what the object is, where it was purchased and for what price, and the brand/model/serial #/etc. Keep these pictures together in a specially labeled envelope with your inventory list and take them with you in your carry-on to ensure safekeeping on your journey.
THE SAFE AND SMART WAY TO LABEL YOUR BOXES
As mentioned above, it’s probably best that your moving containers don’t showcase every little item you’re moving to London. Strangers don’t need to know where you stored your jewelry or other prized possessions (or your underwear, for that matter). You’ll also want to ensure that your labeling system coincides with your means of taking inventory so that, with list in hand, you can straight away unearth what you need when you need it once everything is delivered to your London apartment.
You can devise whatever code you want so long as it’s not so complicated and cryptic that you can’t figure it out later! Me, I just use a numbering system. Simple as that. When I was first moving to London, I had about 60 boxes (Yikes! Never again!), so I pulled out my black Sharpie and labeled them from 1 to 60 accordingly. My inventory likewise used these numbers to label each box’s respective list of items.
I also made sure to print (legibly and in all caps) my last name on every container. And I did so—along with the respective box #—on the top and every side of each one. You can’t anticipate how the movers will load up your things on bringing them into your flat (nor how you might shuffle them around yourself), so labeling all sides makes sure it’s visible from one angle or another. You might also want to label which room everything should go to—e.g., BEDROOM, KITCHEN—as well as if any contents are FRAGILE.
Last but not least is actually something that comes first (if that makes any sense…). I’m speaking of the OPEN ME FIRST box that is a wise one to pack and label accordingly. This box should contain all those urgent (or simply comforting) necessities that you’ll want to unpack right after moving to London. It’s up to you what those things might be, but ideas include enough dishware and utensils for each member of your household, a kettle for some calming tea—or, hey, maybe a wine glass, which I pulled out first thing as my personal calm before the storm of unpacking.
However you approach it, moving to London is hard work but an experience you’ll one day box up in your memory and label with love. 🙂