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Tips For Shipping Small Loads On a Budget

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  • Digital Team 

A lot goes into a move, even a small one especially if shipping is part of the process. Sometimes, shipping a few items is easier than renting a truck and driving across the state or country. If your move involves a plane ride, you may be able to bring along some smaller items. 

However, if you’re trying to move a large piece of furniture you probably can’t check the item at the gate. This means you’re searching for budget-friendly small-load shipping options, and thankfully, there are ways you can reduce the overall costs.

How to Reduce Shipping Costs on Small Loads

Moving can easily become expensive, even if you’re doing most of the work yourself. To help keep your moving costs from skyrocketing, here are a few ways you can keep your expenses down.

Handle the Packing Yourself

Most shipping services will pack your items for you, and this will come at a price. How much it costs to have your belongings carefully packed for shipping typically depends on the service. Some charge by size and weight while others use a flat rate.

While you may not be able to pack up a bed frame, couch, or piano, some things you can probably handle without too much time and trouble. Before you rush out and grab a cardboard box and start tossing items inside, how you pack up your belongings can also affect the price.

For example, if you pack a heavy object in a cardboard box it may not survive shipping. The shipping service may end up repacking the item and this will be reflected on your bill. If the shipping service doesn’t repack the item, it may not arrive in the same condition it was left in. Unfortunately, since you took care of the packing the shipping company probably isn’t liable for any damage.

So, how do you pack items for shipping while also ensuring they arrive safely?

  • Choose the right box or container for the item, which may mean purchasing or building a wooden crate
  • Wrap the item in blankets, packing paper, or bubble wrap
  • Tightly close the lid

You also want to ensure the box or crate is properly labeled. If the item is fragile, make sure this is noted on the crate. Now, instead of paying the shipping service a packing fee, all you need to do is drop off the crate.

Calculate All Fees

Even if a shipping service charges a flat rate, it doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t additional charges for you. 

Before dropping off your items for shipping, it’s a good idea to calculate all of the fees, so this way, you’re not hit with a surprise bill. Adding up all the associated costs also makes it a little easier to compare different shipping companies. After all, your goal is to save money while also ensuring your belongings arrive safely.

Some of the fees you may run into include charges for supplies like boxes, tape, and labels. If you handled the packing at home, these fees shouldn’t apply. With that being said, you may still end up paying for the shipping label—but don’t worry, this is a minimal cost.

If you’re moving overseas, be prepared to pay import and/or export fees. If you’re having the box picked up, there’s a charge for this service. There’s also another charge to have your box delivered to your new address. 

Sometimes, it’s easier and cheaper to drop off and pick up the item. However, this typically depends on its size. For example, you’re probably not going to save any money if you need to rent a truck to drop off and pick up a couch.

Stick with Smaller and Lighter Boxes

Sometimes, there’s no getting around the fact you need a large, heavy crate to safely ship items. There’s not a lot you can do about this expense, but not all items need to be packed in a large, bulky crate. 

Before you run out and purchase a few pieces of wood or a pre-assembled crate, take a look at what you’re shipping. If it can safely go into a cardboard box, this may be your most affordable option.

A good lightweight option is corrugated boxes. They’re lighter than standard cardboard boxes and a little more durable. Pay attention to your packing material. Heavy blankets and comforters do give your items plenty of protection, but the weight can also increase your shipping costs. Packing paper is lighter and can still protect fragile items. Other options include foam inserts, bubble wrap, and air pillows.

Even though there are times when it’s less expensive to ship a single box, this doesn’t always apply to heavier items. To help keep the weight down, consider shipping multiple small boxes. You may end up saving on your shipping costs.

Take Advantage of Free and Low-Cost Supplies

Shipping companies are often like small stores. You can purchase everything you need to ship your belongings for a price. You should expect to see a markup on shipping supplies. An easy way to reduce overall shipping costs is to purchase or scavenge your supplies.

Grocery and retail stores often have cardboard boxes they don’t mind giving away for free. You may even be able to find some free corrugated cardboard boxes. Your local neighborhood store probably has items like tape and markers for a fraction of what you’ll pay at the shipping company. 

Chances are the store also carries packing paper, foam inserts, and possibly even bubble wrap. Another option is to use old newsprint. Yes, the ink can get on your hands but newsprint is often free.

If you need something more substantial like a wooden crate. Head to your local hardware or home improvement store. You can find inexpensive lumber and nails for a lot less than if you purchase the crate from the shipper. Moving can be expensive, even when it’s only a few items. 

However, by comparing shipping rates and taking care of at least some of the packing, you can reduce your shipping costs. 

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