Cheapest (reliable) way to pack packages?

I’m moving later this week, and will have to ship some things to my destination because we’re moving in a Honda Civic and won’t have space for everything.

Is it more economical to mail a few small packages or a single large box? I don’t think I’ll have a ton of extra stuff, so I wouldn’t be renting a Pod or a trailer or anything.

Which carrier should I use, and which items are best to mail? I think I remember that at a certain size/weight of box, UPS and FedEx become cheaper than USPS… however, I know USPS flat rate Priority Mail is a good deal for mailing heavy items.

I feel most inclined to mail clothes because they’re bulky and i don’t mind too much if I lose them.

Does anyone have input or suggestions on maximizing space in my car while minimizing shipping cost? I’m hoping there’s a shipping costs graph or something out there somewhere.

Woo! My area of expertise! (I work at a UPS Store)
How many boxes of stuff are we talking about?
4 boxes? 8 boxes? 16 boxes?
How far are you moving? Across state, across country?
The simplest and safest way (though not neccecarially cheapest) is to send them freight, on a palette. So then your boxes are stacked up and shrink-wrapped, and treated as once cohesive unit. (Instead of 12 boxes getting bounced around in the regular system.) At our store that might cost from $400-600. If you can get your hands on a palette and some shrink-wrap (basically really think saran-wrap), you can call around to local freight companies and prolly get it cheaper. This is usually a good deal if you’ve got 10 or more boxes.
If however, its just a few boxes, you could send it though regular routes (especially if nothing is breakable). USPS tends to, IME, not handle large boxes so well. And are sometimes more expensive than UPS FedEX for large boxes. You can get rate quotes on their websites.
Warning! Do not use UHaul moving boxes (or any moving boxes) for shipping. There is a difference. Those moving boxes will fall apart just from you looking at them. Make sure to use strong, preferrably double wall boxes if you’re going to ship. Try and get the smallest double wall box you can find. At our store its 20x20x20. Incredibly strong box, you can almost sit on it with nothing in it.
Whew. It really depends on how much ya got.

If your going to go the pallet route/pallet route, go to a super market or produce store and ask for banana boxes or apple boxes. They are VERY strong, are designed to fit on a pallet and the store will most likely be more then happy to give them away. You can probably get a pallet from them as well.

Thanks for the info! I wish I’d known about that when we made a much bigger move last year. However, this time around I don’t think I’ll have to ship more than the equivalent of 1-2 moving boxes, or multiple smaller boxes. It’s about a 4-hour drive from old house to new house.

LTL freight (eg: a few boxes stacked on a pallet and wrapped might be cheaper than UPS or FedEx, but it’s a right PITA to accomplish from home. First you have to get a pallet and suitable stretch wrap. Then, you stack the boxes, wrap the pallet and call a trucking company, who will come to your home and wait while you drag the pallet out to the curb. (Or you somehow conspire to get the pallet and boxes to the shipping store, then stack and wrap there.) And then you enter the bizarre world of freight classifications and tarrifs - is it on a pallet, is the pallet forkable, is it fragile, is it books, is it furniture…?

On the other end, you’ll have to call the trucking company to make a delivery appointment, then wait for them to show up and drop off the pallet curbside. If the driver’s not in a rush, you might be able to get them to bring it into the garage, but otherwise, truck freight to and from homes is more often than not only curb service as there’s no dock for them to deliver to.

In my experience, FedEx Home service is a nudge cheaper than UPS Ground. Either is equally adept at mashing boxes that aren’t properly packed. Clothes are a fine choice to ship as they’re essentially unbreakable. Just be sure to pack the box firmly - it’s when stuff is loose in a box that the box tends to get squashed.

You might want to look at Fedex Smartpost.

Basically it’s slow but cheap because Fedex delivers your package to a post office, but the the US mail takes over and delivers it to a residential address.

The trick is that no individual box can be over 70 pounds.

if you are shipping books, DVD, CD and alike you get a special rate at the Post Office. IIRC it is called Media Mail. Don’t mix other stuff in with the media, they do check sometimes.

For that small amount and distance, see if you can rent a few square feet in a U-Haul truck that is going that direction. A few months ago I was trying to find a way to get a dresser from my house to a niece that lived 3 hours away, I did not want to spend 6 hours driving just to deliver a piece of furniture. I happened to catch a listing on Craigslist, someone had room on a U-Haul truck going in that direction. The guy picked up the dresser that weekend, delivered it to my niece’s doorstep and only charge me $20.

You need to be moving huge volumes to even think about this - used a similar service from UPS to deliver a few million copies of that Harry Potter book a couple weeks ago. Think of it more as a logistics tool than a shipping method.

The economy comes from consolidating the packages into a larger volume like a full truckload or a “PODS”-type moving vault rather than several hundred individual little boxes all bouncing across the country through the system like so many salmon.

There are also freight companies that ship pallets from airport to airport. You could carry everything (boxed) in your car (with the pallet on top) to the freight company and then disassemble at the destination.

Where are you working and do they move any large freight at all.

If you work for a company using large volumes of LTL freight you may see pallets moving significant distances for as little as $60-$90 each.

You can also get chepaer rates using the companies UPS accounts if they have one. A friend of mine just did this for an out of state transfer.

PAcked up all his stuff to ship, brought it to work, loaded it via company accounts, paid company for the price of the shipping. Only cost him a couple hundred dollars to move several hundred pounds of bulky stuff like books, bedding and towels, clothes, various bits of furniture.

OTOH I would never submit anything fragile to the tender hand of a typical freight loading forklift driver.

You might also consider Greyhound freight.