Packing for a move is always a challenge, and you don't always want to hand off the job to someone else. While hiring a professional is one of the best ways to make sure valuable items make it to your new home in one piece, it isn't the only way. By using some proven packing techniques, you can be sure your items will survive the move with minimum wear and tear.
Small items are slightly easier pack just because of the size. Flexible packing materials, such as towels, newspaper, and bubble wrap form an important first layer to avoid chips. Using any excess to fill items like glasses and bowls will help prevent them from being crushed. For common items, like dishes, you can buy specialty boxes that are designed to properly support these items once they have been padded with your initial packing materials.
If you don't have access to these types of boxes, or you cannot get one specifically for what you are packing, then you will need to improvise a bit. Small fabric items such as towels and socks work great as a filler, as do newspaper or packing peanuts. Make sure there is a larger layer of padding around the outside of the box, as well as filling any voids in between the individual items.You don't want any bumps to actually impact your items, nor do you want the items inside the box to bump into each other during transit.
Medium items can be packed in a similar fashion to smaller ones, but you will generally only pack one item per box. Make sure the box is several inches larger than the item on all sides to you have sufficient room for padding. In addition, make sure you are using a new box, and that the box is rated to hold the weight of the item. Most boxes have the weight information printed on them, so you can check this when you are shopping to make sure you bring home a box of sufficient quality.
With the larger area around the item to fill, a low-cost filler like packing peanuts are a better choice than newspaper. If you have additional towels or sweaters (as long as they don't have hard bits like buttons or zippers) can be used as well if you are trying to minimize how much packing material you use.
Large fragile items are going to be the most challenging to pack, particularly if they are too large or heavy to box up. For especially fragile items, such as large vases or artwork, consider hiring a specialty company to move them. They will have the additional insurance and specific expertise for working with these items. In addition, keeping them separate from the rest will minimize the risk if the load shifts and prevent other boxes from accidentally being stacked on top of these items.
In the case of furniture, there are two things to make sure of. One, just as with smaller items, you need to wrap everything in a protective layer to prevent small bumps and scratches during the moving process. If you can disassemble the furniture without damage, this can help make things easier to wrap. Second, be very particular how the item is loaded into the truck. It should be strapped down to prevent shifting, and nothing should be stacked on top of it, to minimiz stress on the piece during transit.
While packing each item will take special consideration, these techniques should give you a place to start. If you are still unsure of what to do, discuss the issue with a representative from moving companies like Wheaton World Wide Moving. They want you to have a successful move and may be able to help with some specific pointers about how to pack an item. Most will also allow you to hire them to pack just those few things that you aren't comfortable packing yourself, and that comes with additional insurance if anything was to go wrong.