Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pack-out Privacy

Before this month is over, we will have our pack-out day. So naturally, I've been racking my brain about everything that could possibly happen.

During the process, for the uninitiated, contractors come and pack all of our things and take inventory of what is being packed in each box (sort of) and where the box is headed and in which shipment it is traveling.

Ever since friends, family and co-workers learned we were moving to Mexico, nary a week would go by without someone asking me if we had started packing yet. To which I would explain that taxpayers are footing the bill. I believe this has to do with keeping track who is at fault for something breaking during the move, and/or to make sure we aren't taking anything illegal with us. Just guesses, but they seem logical, and in the end, it doesn't really matter why.

Then everyone responds how great that is because packing is this worst part about moving.

True enough, but just as I'm not too keen about having a stranger wash my underwear, I've been growing a little more hesitant about the prospect of having strangers going through my things.

I guess I need to pose the question to those who've (is that a real contraction?) been through this before. Is there any level of privacy during pack-out? Can I pre-pack a box or two and mark it "miscellaneous" without movers checking it out? Or is everything we owned subject to scrutiny?


  1. I've always wondered about that... I wouldn't want my "special occasion"...uh...underwear packed up by some stranger. :)

  2. I've been through multiple moves paid for by my company (not government, but I think very similar). I think as long as it is discrete, you should be able to have pre-taped boxes that can just be thrown into another box for the mover. What I do is typically put any personal/financial files into one of those cheap but pretty Ikea boxes and tape it shut and the movers typically treat it like any other item and shove it into another box. Best of luck on the pack-out!

  3. Things like those plastic file boxes for personal papers, they're not going to open, they'll just put it into a packing box as-is.

    For things like "unmentionables," pack your suitcases and move them into the car so the suitcases don't get packed up.

    Any boxes you pack yourself to give to the movers, they technically have the right to open and make sure it's not illegal or against policy. Sometimes they open them and sometimes they don't.

    Take out the garbage right before the movers arrive! They will swarm over the whole house and pack up garbage cans with garbage in them if you don't move them out beforehand.

    They move so quickly that they won't be scrutinizing anything. They just grab, wrap, and throw in a box.

  4. I prepack "special occassion" items in a small box and tape it shut. The movers have always just stuck that into another box.

  5. this is an excellent question! hadn't occurred to me yet!

  6. They didn't go through our pre-packed boxes. They did open them up to stuff more inside of them if possible, but they didn't specifically look through anything to make sure it was legal or to snoop. Truly, my impression was that they could care less about what they see. I mean really, they do this multiple times a day, five days a week. My impression was that I don't have anything that they haven't seen before, and I'm never going to see them again anyway.

    If you really don't want them seeing something, go with Digger's advice and pack it up in a cardboard box and tape it. They wont open it.

    I think their goal is to get in and out asap, not to check all your stuff. On that note--DO take out garbages and get rid of food you don't want packed. One of my a-100 friends had most of her bottles of alcohol packed up before realizing it, and had to have them unpack it all. I would've assumed that was a "keep out," but when the packers are on a mission they do it!

  7. I realize my message may have contradicted itself---

    The boxes they opened to stuff more full were the see-through plastic kind, like Rubbermaid boxes. If you tape up a cardboard box, they aren't going to open that.

  8. Depend on where you are. In the states you will probably have no problem following Diggers advice and pre-packing a few things. We are in the middle of packing out from Germany and have been told absolutely no packed by owner. They even repacked a lot of my Christmas stuff which had obviously been packed since Christmas. DUH! In Jakarta they were much more flexible about it we were even given boxes to presort stuff and just asked no to seal them up.

  9. Ditto the above ... we just finished our packout and they didn't have any problem with pre-packed suitcases and plastic bins. They added stuff (blankets or more sweaters) to the bins to make sure they wouldn't collapse, and generally just asked, is this all clothes? before sealing it up. They did want to take some of the stuff out of the bins because it took up too much space, so make sure you say that you actually want to ship the stuff in the plastic bins. They're supposed to pack EVERYTHING for you, but I think any time-savers are welcome.

  10. In the U.S., the movers are in such a hurry to get it done that they don't care. And they WILL pack stuff in they're not supposed to - full trash cans and ash trays, liquids of all sorts, etc. The movers don't know where you're going or what the rules are, and a lot of them do mostly domestic moves (State contracts out several different companies to do the moves) where there aren't as many rules about what you can and can't move.

    If you want a real inventory of your stuff, you'll need to make it yourself. Their packing list will say things like "books," "clothes," "dishes." It's not going to note the number or condition of various items, or where in the house they go.

  11. If you have APO or DPO at your post, you can mail some 'special' things to yourself that way. I was concerned that customs would search my stuff anyway upon entry to my last country, so I didn't put anything in there that would make them upset.