Packing up your worldly possessions and moving them to a new home can be difficult even under the best of circumstances. An estimated 40-million Americans move each year, with August being high season. If you decide to hire a moving company, here are some suggestions for making the experience a smooth one. Associated Press Planning
• Get written estimates from several carriers who have assessed, in person, everything you'll be moving, says John Bisney, spokesman for the nonprofit American Moving and Storage Association.
• Talk through fine print and ask questions about anything you don't fully understand. Surprisingly low bids warrant extra scrutiny.
• The Web site ProtectYourMove.gov offers information about your rights and the moving company's responsibilities, especially for interstate moves. It's important to discuss insuring your items, and how the company will handle any damage.
• If you want movers to pack your items, get detailed price quotes for labor and supplies. Get it in writing.
• Eliminate clutter before movers arrive: If you don't want an item, don't spend time and money moving it. Select items you can sell, donate or share with friends. If your pantry is stocked, use that food before moving. And have coolers to pack fridge or freezer items on moving day (or give to neighbors).
• Pack two weeks' worth of everything you might need (food, dishes, paperwork, etc.) in a set of clearly labeled boxes. Keep these boxes separate from the rest of your goods. Moving day
• When the movers arrive, exchange cell phone numbers to stay in contact throughout the move. Have numbers handy for management, in case a problem arises. Crew members' experience may vary, so watch how they approach work. If they are packing boxes, be sure they label them clearly. Ask the head of the moving team to identify items he considers damaged before loading them.
• Place cash and very precious items in your car, rather than giving them to movers. Have children pack a small backpack of favorite things that will stay with them.
• Keep drinks and snacks on hand for the movers. They will appreciate the gesture. Arriving, unpacking
• On arrival, movers may ask for decisions on the fly if furniture doesn't fit as planned. Have a rough idea — and some backup ideas — about where things should go.
• Have the most crucial boxes — that two-week supply of important, daily-life items — placed together in one area, rather than scattered around the house.
• You'll need cash to tip moving staff once everything is unloaded. Tipping isn't required, but it's common.
• Within days of arrival, unpack; you need to see if anything is damaged to promptly pursue reimbursement from the mover.