Friday, June 02, 2006

 

Wherein some advice is offered, and some advice is sought

1. Advice offered: You should buy your next briefcase from Lands End. About ten (10) years ago I received a Lands End Square Rigger Deluxe Attache as a gift. It proved to be the most rugged bag I had ever used; since the canvas for the bag is actually the same material used in sails, it is entirely waterproof and can take quite a licking. The only part of the bag that succumbed to the beating I gave it was the fabric loop that connects the shoulder strap to the bag. In college, that loop broke off while I was crossing a street with the book-laden bag. But this brings me to the reason why you should buy your next bag from Lands End: when they offer a lifetime guarantee on their products, they mean it. I simply returned my bag in the mail and had it repaired and sent to me quickly by UPS Ground. That repaired loop lasted me about six years, until I broke it again two weeks ago. This time, I was skeptical about the guarantee and called Lands End. But, true to their word, they told me that while they no longer repair luggage, they would accept my old bag for an even exchange with a new one. They weren't lying: after sending them my beat up, ten-year-old, broken bag, a brand spanking new bag arrived today from UPS -- at no charge and with no questions asked. Better yet, the sholder strap loops on the new bag are made of leather, so this one should be even more indestructible than ever.

2. Advice sought: I've recently purchased a new digital camera and have been looking into various online photo servers like Flickr. I like Flickr a lot, but before shelling out $25/year for the "pro" upgrade, I thought I'd ask whether any of you, gentle readers, think that this upgrade is worth the money. I'm also uncertain whether Flickr is the best service for allowing family members and friends to order prints of my pictures. I know Flickr does have an ordering option, but since I've never used it, I'm curious whether it works well.

3. Advice offered and sought: I see I'm not the only one trying to plan a move. As Sameer notes, finding a good rental at a distance is difficult--even more so when you'd prefer a house or duplex for rent over an apartment. (I have nothing against apartments, you understand, but my wife and I would like to close the apartment chapter of our lives if we can.) Like Sameer, I've posted ads on Craigslist and the lesser-known Backpage, but I've also found Rentclicks to be an extremely useful site, particularly for non-apartment rental properties. Setting up email alerts for particular searches is very easy to do, and the individual property pages have handy links to Google Maps and images. (Downloading Google Earth, by the way, has been extremely helpful in researching the move. Not only does it give you satellite images of particular addresses like Google Maps, but it also allows you to see what kinds of stores, parks, restaurants, etc., are nearby, which can be helpful for making sense of a neighborhood. You can also measure distances more easily in Google Earth than you can in Maps.)

I'm a bit more at a loss when it comes to deciding on a moving company. It's pretty clear that hiring professional movers is out of the question for us, but I'm still trying to decide between renting a truck from Penske and hiring a "You Pack, We Move" service like ABF U-Pack or Door-to-Door. I probably wouldn't be considering these latter options at all if I were not so stunned by the high price of rental trucks these days, which is only compounded by the high price of gas. The prices I've been quoted by Penske and U-Haul are over twice as high as the price I paid to rent a truck when I moved to Baltimore. Still, I'm not sure the "you pack" options are worth the hassle, especially since the price difference seems to be marginal unless you're moving a small amount of stuff. Thoughts?

I've discovered, by the way, that where you rent your Penske truck can make a big difference in price. If I rent my truck here in Baltimore, it will cost me upwards of $1600. (If I were renting a truck in College Park, it would cost another $600 more.) But if I'm willing to drive forty-five minutes to York, PA, I can take about $400 off the Baltimore price. If you're willing to veer off the beaten path to pick up your truck, it's worth looking at some of the smaller towns in your area. Mileage on a Penske truck is unlimited and you have eight days to use it, so it won't cost you much to make a short road trip to pick it up.


Collective Improvisation:
Caleb,
FWIW, I found snapfish to be a pretty good online photo place and it works pretty seamlessly with Picassa as well.

Posted by Blogger Dave Merkowitz on 6/02/2006 05:38:00 PM : Permalink  

If you don't have any children, move a small amount of stuff. It's amazing what you can do without, I left behind a dumpster(18yrs) full of stuff just to move two miles.

Posted by Anonymous VRB on 6/02/2006 05:54:00 PM : Permalink  

I have no other recommendation BUT Flickr pro. Not even the fake recommendation in the name of inclusion for marketing purposes. :)

Posted by Blogger JM on 6/02/2006 06:27:00 PM : Permalink  

I recommend Snapfish, if printing is a concern. They offer better quality and service, I've found, than say Shutterfly.

The free Flickr account can be fine if you don't mind your photos tiling, since you're only allowed 3 groups with the basic account. But you can tag easily so if you just want to post online, sometimes that can still work at no cost to you.

As for movers, last year I moved from Alexandria, VA to Port Arthur, TX with a you-pack we-move and it only cost $1400. I had a 1 BR apartment's worth of stuff. The company was Safeway Movers from Landover, MD (might work for you) and everything arrived to me safe and unbroken. The only challenge when you share a truck is that there is a little bit of a wait (up to 2 weeks) from when they pick up your things and when they deliver. If timing isn't an issue, I say it's totally worth it.

LL Bean also offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products too, which is an excellent deal.

Good luck!

Posted by Anonymous Sheila on 6/04/2006 09:45:00 PM : Permalink  

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone! This is all very helpful.

Posted by Blogger Caleb on 6/06/2006 10:08:00 PM : Permalink  

Sorry to be slow on the uptake here Caleb, but since we're in the same boat, I can tell you what I'm doing. I hired Mayflower to move my stuff, but I'll pack myself. Bought boxes from moveout.com (free shipping, and the boxes themselves seem like a good deal). Mayflower is costing less than three thousand, and I won't have to worry about driving a truck myself all the way to Houston (oh, perish the thought!). I also got rid of a ton of stuff: I'm giving away my sleep sofa, my twin bed, desk, and assorted other paraphenalia. That helps!

I've spent a lot of time on Craigslist and apartmentguide.com. This has given me a good idea of what's available but I'm still going to Houston to check things out.

Who would have thought that moving cross country would be such a pain in the ass?

Posted by Blogger Rebecca on 6/09/2006 05:05:00 PM : Permalink  

I'm a very big Flickr fan. If you're not going to upload many pictures, the free service might work just fine for you. I had the free service for a few months and was happy enough with it, but then someone gave me a pro upgrade and I've loved having it. I just happily paid for this year's pro account.

If you decide to rent a truck, don't be afraid to try to get companies to match prices. I've had lots of bad experiences with UHaul, so I finally decided I would never again rent from them. But the last couple of moves, I've still gotten a quote from them, which was the cheapest price, and then used that price as leverage with the other companies.

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