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Should I use plastic totes or moving boxes for my move?

July 19th, 2013 - 10:24 AM

Should I pack my stuff into moving boxes or plastic totes?

Which is better for moving? Plastic storage bins or moving boxes?

We call them plastic totes, you may call them plastic storage bins, utility totes, plastic storage totes, plastic storage containers, plastic storage tubs, or plastic storage boxes. But whatever you call em’, everyone loves them and they’re great for storing pretty much anything – clothes, Christmas decorations, crafts, toys - you name it. But are they great for moving? Some say yes. Some say no. I’m here to set the record straight. If you use a moving company like U-Pack® where you do the packing yourself, it’s very important to know that you should pack your belongings into moving boxes and not plastic totes. Here’s why:

Why you should use moving boxes instead of plastic totes

  • Plastic totes don’t stack well.  Since they can’t be stacked edge-to-edge like moving boxes, they’re more vulnerable to break, crack, and cave in when stacked on top of one another.

     Plastic storage containers can’t be stacked edge-to-edge like moving boxes can.          Use boxes instead of plastic totes.jpg
    [photo credit]

    Moving boxes are made for moving. And since they can be stacked edge-to-edge, they’re able to hold their shape when other moving boxes are stacked on top.
  • Plastic totes take up space. They’re not exactly “square,” so they take up more space than a typical moving box. And if you’re using U-Pack, space matters. With U-Pack, you pay only for the space you use in the moving trailer or ReloCube. So if you choose plastic totes, you could be taking up more space than necessary, which consequently means more $ than necessary.
  • Plastic totes are one size fits all. There’s a reason why moving boxes typically come in three different sizes (S,M,&L) – your stuff isn’t all the same size. Let’s say you want to pack your printer. You could choose a medium-size moving box that’s just slightly larger than the printer, or you could choose a plastic tote that’s way bigger than the printer. I vote for the moving box. With the box, the printer fits securely inside. With the tote, the printer has plenty of room to move around.
  • Plastic totes can get heavy fast. Imagine you’re moving heavier items like books. If you pack them all inside a tote, it gets heavy quick, making it difficult to load into the moving trailer. But, if you pack those books into smaller-sized moving boxes, they'll be much easier to carry. 
  • Plastic totes are expensive. They usually cost somewhere between $4-15. That’s kinda steep! Boxes are much more affordable. 

Plastic totes or moving boxes…which should I choose?

As you can see, for the safety of your belongings in transit, we highly recommend avoiding packing your household goods in plastic totes, especially if you're moving long distance. Instead, use boxes designed for moving. Stack them "high and tight," and secure them with rope or straps as you load. If you have any questions about moving, or if you need to start comparing moving quotes, give us a call at 800-413-4799 or leave us a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!