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References
 Travel Tips - Transferring Residence from US to India - Packing Tips

Here we have put together some information and tips to help you pack your stuff when considering the a move or transfer of residence.

Please note: This information is not meant to be an authoritative or definitive guide and is being provided here only for information purposes and is (mostly based on some of our personal experiences). The reader is advised to use his/her discretion in interpreting the information..

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Packing


Q. When or how soon should I begin packing and what do I keep in mind?
A. Besides preparing to wrap up your current stay, you should begin planning your packing well in advance, at least about 6-8 weeks before. Some of the things you can do around this time include::
  • Begin planning on the items that will form part of the final package that you need to ship
  • Doing so earlier, will allow you to plan and estimate the size and volume of your shipment, which will give you an option to request various shipping companies for quotations for the shipping charges, as also allowing you considerable time to decide if you want/need to add/remove items from the anticipated list.
  • If you are planning to ship any fragile, costly or precious (not only in monetary terms) goods, be sure to consider insuring the goods, and check with your agent what are the inclusions and exclusions of the coverage, how will you be able to claim the insurance, in case of loss or damage of goods.
  • It is advisable NOT to include valuables such as important documents, jewellery, etc in the shipment.
  • Based on your initial estimated volume and/or size (weight), you can also start hunting for professional packers, or if you want to save some money and trust yourself more, start planning for the actual packing of the goods.
  • If you choose to do the packing yourself, you will need to be aware of at least a few things, including how a typical shipment company expects you to pack your stuff, etc.
  • Of course, if you have a lot of stuff, including large items like furniture, large electronic goods (eg. TV, Home Theater System), etc. it may work to your advantage to employ the services of a professional packer, to minimize risk of damage to such goods during the shipment. All goods will be thoroughly packed by the agents, and probably also packed into wooden crates,  which will additionally secure such goods; please check with your packers the charges for such services, and also bear in mind that such "added protection" will add to the weight and volume of your final shipment package.
Q. Do you have any tips on identifying and shopping for packing supplies?
A. Yes, sure - though not all may apply in case you have chosen not to do the packing by yourself.
  • Once you have a fair idea of what goods you will be packing, you should begin looking for packing boxes/cartons, packing tape or duct tape, Name/Address Labels, any other labels (we'll talk about this later)
  • You can find your packing supplies (boxes, labels, packing tape) in varous shapes and sizes, at your local Wal-Mart, Target, Office Depot, Home Depot or Packaging Depots in located in many strip malls [in the U.S].
  • Choose your boxes carefully - by size or volume, sturdiness (depending on what you intend to pack in it), quality (durability) and of course, economy (to suit your budget). Any shipment - by air, ocean or road, typically goes through a very harsh handling, and it is thus best to choose the boxes that are of good quality, so as to minimize risk of damage to the packed goods.
  • When packing delicate items (like crockery, frames, etc) you can double or triple-pack the items; you can pack the items in smaller cartons (such as those freely available at whole-sellers like Sam's Club or CostCo), before placing them in the final box. 
  • Smaller boxes are easier to move manually, and are generally preferred for packing heavier items like books, while larger boxes are better preferred for lighter items.
Q. Can you tell me how I should actually go about packing the stuff?
A. While we do not claim to experts at this, and the procedure followed will vary from person-to-person, and depend on the stuff being packed, we would like to provide some guidelines, for packing personal items. For larger items, you may want to check with professionals.
  • First, make sure you prepare the box/carton well. For this:
    • Tape all the joints in the carton firmly - both, from the inside AND outside (except the open, top-side) - using duct tape/packing tape, so that the box is sturdy enough to hold the stuff you plan to place in it
    • Assign numbers to each box that you are packing. These can be simple serial numbers, 1,2,3... Write down the box number on at least two sides INSIDE the box, and on at least two or three sides OUTSIDE the box, including the top. This will help in easy identification of the box, without having to turn it over/around - especially when it already contains stuff in it! Most shipping companies require you to number the boxes.
    • Place a label (or write it) containing your name, from and to address, and contact number [at destination] INSIDE the box. This again will serve to easily identify a box - and its contents - should the need arise.
  • Before you begin packing, keep a writing pad and pen handy, so that you can prepare your packing list while you pack the items in the box. The packing list is one of the most important things regarding your shipment, so don't forget or compromise on this aspect of your packing:
    • You will need to provide a copy of the same to your shipping agent, along with your shipped-goods. For this, you will also need to provide an estimated worth of the item/s.
    • You will need to keep a copy of this while clearing ths shipment at the destination.
    • This list will come handy for filing an insurance claim, if unfortunately, your shipment is damaged or misplaced.
    • And, last but not the least, you will need this to help yourself identify what you packed in which box! Believe us, with the move being as hectic as it is, and about 2-4 months before your goods reach their destination, you won't have a clue as to what you actually packed!
    • Handy Tip: When preparing a packing list (See sample) - keep two parts to it: On the left column, write down as much detail as you want for each item that you are packing. On the right, include a summary of the major items. This is so, that the detail list can be used for your reference later, during unpacking, while the summary list is what you will provide for all other purposes (as mentioned above).
  • When packing items, try to distribute the load of all your goods as evenly as possible, rather than making a few boxes ultra-heavy, and others ultra-light. Also, to avoid damage to the boxes, and goods contained within, plan to fill each box at least about 85-90%, so that the box resists crushing/deformation easily.
  • For delicate and fragile items, such as kitchenware, glassware, etc. as far as possible, use double/triple packing, padding it sufficiently, with paper or clothes.
  • Packing a few clothes - or "soft items" like jackets, towels, kitchen tissue, etc to fill the gaps between items in a box may be helpful in some cases to prevent "shock" and damage to the packed goods.
  • Books and magazines are not only heavy, but also usually voluminous. Use smaller cartons to pack these, and ensure that the carton can withstand the weight of the packed items.If you feel its too heavy, re-arrange your stuff.
  • As far as possible, try to avoid including food articles or eatables in your shipment, as these risk getting invaded by rodents at warehouses and ports, not to mention natural decay. However, if you have to, you could include "dry" items (like cereals, chips, etc) preferably if they are in their original sealed packaging [and, hope that they reach safely!]
  • For other items, like electronic goods, use the original boxes and packaging, if you can. This is probably the "strongest" packing you'll get for it, as these items were originally professionally packed that way. [PS: Keeping items in their original packaging might arouse the suspicion of the customs clearing agent at the destination, and you will have to ensure that you carry enough documentary evidence that the item is or is not new/used, as the case may be]
  • Finally, as you are ready with each box, and your packing, seal each box firmly from the OUTSIDE, with packing tape. Take care to use at least 2 or 3 overlapping layers of tape, and cover each joint securely.
  • Lastly, stick labels on each box. You can use labels to indicate the following:
    • Fragile                        (View/Download)
    • Handle With Care    (View/Download)
    • Box Number
    • This Side Up                 (View/Download)
    • Arrow (for indicating 'This Side Up')       (View/Download)
    • And, of course, your Name/address/contact

Q. Thanks. You've told me a lot about packing my stuff. Is there still something that I should know or remember?
A. Well, hopefully, you have all the information you need to get your packing done safely and securely. The following tips - or reminders - may just be somethings you can add to your checklist, to ensure that you didn't forget them in all the frenzy:
  • Make sure you have settled all your outstanding dues - for the apartment, telphone, etc and provided a forwarding address to the USPS
  • Make sure you have noted down the details of your shipment & shipping agent, including telephone, email/fax contacts
  • Make sure you have noted down details of all your credit cards, banks, apartment, telephone company, etc. - in case you need to get in touch with them a few weeks/months after reaching India. [PS: As you cannot call a US Toll-free number from India directly, check to see if they have an alternate contact number or email that you may be able to use]
  • For more information, please also see the section on Transfer of Residence - Tips
     

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Last Updated: Mon Nov 24 03:30:00 EDT 2003