A long-distance move can be tricky. In addition to having to pack up every possession you own, you’ll also have to figure out how to get it all to your new home. While some people choose to drive their stuff themselves across state lines, that might not be feasible with an entire household’s possessions. That’s why shipping is sometimes the preferred method when moving a considerable distance. It’s simple, really: The bulk of your possessions get boxed up and shipped to your new home, and you take all the invaluable items (e.g., your ID, birth certificate, medications, etc.) with you on the plane.
Many homeowners will hire a moving company, but did you know there are limits to what most companies will ship? Some items are just too fragile, valuable, or hazardous, and your movers won’t be allowed to take responsibility for them.
Of course, different moving companies will have their own rules for the types of items they won’t ship.
“Talk directly to the moving company and ask them what they are willing and not willing to do,” says Justin Hodge, co-founder and president of Muscular Moving Men based in Phoenix. Good communication with your movers will help reduce the number of last-minute surprises on move-out day.
1. Photos and photo albums
Photos and photo albums are very fragile and could easily get destroyed. Although they might not be of high monetary value, photos can have high sentimental value. Plus, once photos are ruined, they’re likely gone for good.
“If there was a situation where everything was damaged, you would have peace of mind of knowing you’re in your own control, not the moving company you’re working with,” Hodge says. Many movers opt to avoid the risk.
2. Unsealed personal care products
As obvious as it may seem, unsealed lotions, shampoos, and skincare products will likely give your moving company pause. If one were to spill, it could ruin your entire shipment, and your moving company doesn’t want to be on the hook for that.
Hodge says you could pack sealed personal care products in your suitcase, give them to a friend, or just throw them out if they’re nearly empty. Hey, you have a new place to live—buy some new stuff!
3. Expensive clothes and accessories
If you own any expensive or unique designer clothes, formalwear, or accessories, it might be better to take them with you on the plane.
4. Flat-screen TVs
Many movers are reluctant to ship flat-screen TVs because they’re pricey and notoriously fragile. Plasma-screen TVs are especially delicate and need to be kept upright to avoid damaging the glass panels inside. If you do have a flat screen you need to ship, be sure to mention it from the get-go before hiring a moving company
5. Nail polish
If you have an extensive nail polish collection, you’ll probably have to transport it in your luggage on the plane. Zafrani says polish is a perfect storm of shipping badness.
“It’s a liquid and in a glass bottle, and if the bottle is not securely tightened, it can leak and cause damage,” she says. It’s also flammable and could catch fire during the move. Pack it with you it, toss it, or give it to a friend.
6. Fine art
Need to ship a one-of-a-kind Picasso? While fine art doesn’t show up on everyone’s inventory list, if you do need to transport artwork of value, your standard moving company probably won’t be up for the task.
7. Food in glass containers
You know that fancy bottle of olive oil you brought back from Tuscany this summer? Delicious! Too bad it’s simply too fragile to ship. The same goes for other glass containers filled with food.
“Glass bottles are pretty thin, and if the box is accidentally dropped, the bottle can crack,” says Zafrani.
Broken glass—and spilled food—will be the last thing you’ll want to contend with when unpacking. You already have enough to worry about.
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