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Packing tips to save you time and money when moving abroad

Written by Jim Limerick on 10 April 2017

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It’s been said that nothing in this world is certain, save for death, taxes and the misery of packing (we may have improvised that last bit). While preparing for a city break in the sun is one thing, anyone who has made a move internationally will know that packing becomes even more stressful when you’re required to ship your belongings overseas.

However, with some sensible planning and the kinds of handy hacks described below, you can save yourself time, stress, and even money.

Stock up on supplies

When packing, many people focus on the tidying, cleaning and organising of their personal belongings, and leave the actual packing until the last minute – at which point you’re likely to discover that the bubblewrap you thought you had stashed in the cupboard under the stairs has disappeared.

Save yourself the 3am panic and hit the shops in advance, stocking up on all the boxes and packaging supplies you'll need. And don’t forget – you’ll probably need more than you think.

Kill two birds with one stone

When shipping your belongings abroad, remember that space equals money. The more compact you can make your possessions, the less you’ll spend on shipping. Use towels and bedding to wrap up fragile items, make the most of empty drawers, and always fill boxes to the top – containers that aren’t full can get crushed during shipping.

Think about the unpacking process

It’s not easy, but try as hard as you can to be organised about the way you pack. Bear in mind that unpacking can be a long and tiring process too, and that it’ll be easier if you organise boxes by room.

Try to keep bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom items together, and when faced with that dreaded junk drawer, don’t simply tip it out into the closest box – decide what you need, and throw out the rest. Lastly, try keeping an inventory of what is contained in which boxes. Trust us, your future self will thank you.

Be clear about what you’re packing

You may not think that your personal possessions count as "Dangerous Goods", but some may fall into that category, which can complicate the moving process. Lithium batteries are classed as a dangerous good, which means they must be packed and shipped in compliance with the international guidelines.

For instance, if you want to ship a hoverboard or airwheel powered by lithium batteries, it will have to be packed and shipped in a specific manner. The best way to make sure you are packing legally and safely is to speak to a shipping expert.

Leave the big stuff to the professionals

It can be hard to relinquish control of our possessions, but sometimes it’s for the best. When you’re shipping large, bulky items like furniture and appliances, you might be tempted to wrap them in preparation for shipping yourself. But many shipping companies offer this as part of the service – and, because they’re professional packaging experts with thousands of hours of combined experience, you can rest assured that they’ll do a good job.

Get insurance

Moving overseas can be a daunting prospect, so it probably won’t soothe your nerves to know that between 2,000 and 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year.

While that number only accounts for 1% of containers shipped annually, it’s still important to understand that – as with most things in life – shipping your belongings overseas is not risk-free.

Take some time finding the right insurance provider for your needs, prioritising the most valuable and breakable items, and remember that you won’t be able to claim for broken items that you packed yourself.

Use up that booze!

You might be keen to move your personal wine cellar with you overseas, but many countries will impose high taxes and duties on alcohol imports.

While you can usually bring in a small amount of alcohol that you carry with you on the plane (Australia allows you to bring in 2.25 litres if you are over 18), you should think twice about shipping your whole drinks cabinet.

Instead, plan a leaving party with your friends and family, and share around your leftover booze. It’s also a great opportunity to use up any food you have in the house.

Give yourself time

The most important thing you can do when preparing for an overseas move is to schedule an appropriate amount of preparation time. Moving is extremely time consuming, so don’t try to juggle an overseas relocation with work, family and your social life. Set out clear boundaries, take lots of breaks, and – most important of all – ask for help from the people around you!

What are friends for if they’re not willing to haul some furniture once in a while?

In association with

1st Move International

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