My Story: Proper Packing

contributed by Sharyn

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Mailing Packages to Overseas Service Personnel

As a previous packer and shipper, I know that the suggestion of shredding paper and using it for packing can be misleading. Unless the person packs the box very tightly, it will not provide proper insulation against breakage. Since the shreds will often shift, the packed item may move around in the box, allowing it move to the sides. It's better to crumple the papers up into balls.

  • Start with a "base" of gathered paper. Newspaper will work if you don't mind the print coming off. End rolls from your local newspaper office work well and are very reasonable. Unfold your newspaper so the long side is across the front of you and gather it up in your hands in a loose, long "tube." Use several of these on the bottom of the box and place your item to be shipped on top. Pack the same "tubes" snugly around the item and on top of it.
  • Always pack items to be shipped separately or, at the very least, with papers in between them. If it rattles, it's too loose. You must decide if you want to use up your paper or lose the item through breakage or other damage.
  • Before you seal the package, flip the lids closed, pick up your package and shake it. If anything moves or rattles, you need more packing material. Conveyor belts move your items, so you need to be sure your item is packed properly.
  • When sealing the top of your box, flip the opposite ends down first and then seal. If you criss-cross the top flaps, the integrity of the box is lost and it won't be as solid. Remember to use more rather than less tape to make sure the box is sealed securely. It doesn't seem very frugal unless you take into account the possible loss of the item through damage.
  • When labeling, print your information on the box proper or use an envelope/paper/label, making sure to tape over it. Items have been lost when the label is ripped off, dirtied or fallen off due to the adhesive not staying on the package.
  • If you are sending an item across any border, the Custom's Department will probably open it. They usually don't repack it the same way. Be aware that if you are sending priceless or one-of-a-kind items, the insurance you place on them might not be valid or cover the cost.
  • If you are packing several items to ship later, tape a small piece of paper onto the box that tells you who it's for, what's in it, etc. When you are ready to send it, you don't have to panic (or open it up again!) trying to figure out what's inside!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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