So after years of DIY/friend-assisted moves, you’ve finally decided to hire movers. As a fellow convenience-minded person, I salute you. The heavy-lifting, traffic-negotiating, stair-climbing nightmare parts of moving day are out of your hands.
But before you kick back and start daydreaming of sleeping in on the big day, I also have some bad news: There are some things you always want to move yourself.
Even if you’ve hired pros, you’re still probably going to be renting a truck or tucking a few things away in your car. Yes, I know—that completely bursts your nothing-to-do bubble. But you’ll want these things for their safe arrival.
1. Your pets
Obviously, you’re not going to pack Rover in a box with some air holes, but you still need to do some prep work.
Moving is stressful for pets. Add the potential danger of their busting free in the chaos of moving, and it could be a bad situation. Save yourself a headache later and pack them a travel bag now.
If you’re moving across town, plan to take water and food bowls, food, treats, an extra leash, a favorite toy, and a crate with you in the car.
If you’re moving out of state, your movers probably won’t transport your pets, but you can hire a pet-moving service.
Houseplants are a bigger moving-day hassle than you might realize.
First, your mover might not be able to take some of your plants, because local and interstate laws may forbid it.
“Before doing anything with houseplants, it’s good to check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure there aren’t any restrictions for moving that particular type of plant,” says Jonathan Deesing, a community specialist with imove.
If the plants are allowed on the truck, you’ll still have to worry about everything arriving safely.
“Only pack up plants that are hardy and can survive a bumpy ride,” he says. Fragile plants (we’re looking at you, orchids) may not survive in the back of the truck. So put them in an open box in your car with some padding to keep the pots from tipping over.
If you’re packing, the movers probably aren’t.
Whether you’ve got an antique revolver just for display or a powerful hunting rifle, this one is a big no-no for obvious reasons.
“It’s best to move your guns on your own for safety reasons, and many moving services will not even consider moving guns for you anyway,” Deesing says.
If you’re moving your arsenal, don’t forget your safety lessons. Pack bullets and guns separately, and keep everything clearly marked and out of the reach of children.
And remember the rules and regulations.
“Make sure you have all the paperwork in order before moving guns across state lines,” Deesing says.
4. Your record collection and other valuables
Whether it’s the complete history of the blues on 350 vinyl records, or a collection of antique snow globes, “if you can’t stand the thought of losing it, don’t put it on a moving truck,” Deesing says.
Your moving company isn’t going to toss any of your stuff around (we hope), but accidents do happen. It’s one thing when it happens to that bookshelf you bought at Target, but another when it happens to your great-grandmother’s antique lamp set. If in doubt, bring it with you.
5. Personal paperwork
Pack your Social Security card, birth certificate, auto title, and any other important paperwork in a waterproof case, and haul that with you. Inevitably, something gets misplaced in a move. And it’s not helpful to find your passport six months after you had to scramble to get a last-minute replacement for your vacation to Spain.
“Of all your belongings, these can often be the most difficult to recover if lost or damaged in transit,” Deesing says.
6. Climate-sensitive artwork
If you’re moving across town or within the same state, your artwork can probably be safely packed and stowed away on the moving truck. If you’re moving several states away and the temperature might change drastically on the trip, you might want to bring those originals with you in your climate-controlled car.
“If you have artwork in a truck and move from the Northeast to the Deep South, it could irreversibly damage certain paints and materials,” Deesing says.
For everything else, follow this rule: When in doubt, overcompensate.
“Communication is key with any part of the move, and this is no exception,” Deesing says. “Don’t take risks, either—clearly label your fragile items and feel free to supervise movers as they load items onto the truck.”