There are many advantages to hiring professional movers. They not only can pack and move and unpack all of your possessions, but they can do it really well. They also use professional materials.

However, if you want moving help but also want to save a little money, you may want to do some packing yourself.

Pro tip: Don’t skimp on the packing materials!

While you can pick up sturdy boxes from some of your favorite stores, the temptation may be strong to use less than perfect materials if they’re free. Because, hey, they’re free!  But your box isn’t just going to be sitting in the middle of your living room after you fill it with heirloom china. It’s got to be taped up, hoisted by you (probably) and your mover (definitely), placed on a truck and stacked with other boxes, jostled as it travels down the highway, unloaded and manhandled and moved into your new place.

A wimpy box just isn’t going to cut it.

Free boxes may have other problems. One of them is odor. Don’t use a stinky box. That smell is going to have plenty of time to seep into your belongings, and unless it’s minty, you may not want to live with it.

In addition, don’t pick a box that isn’t right for the job.  A huge box shouldn’t be filled up with heavy items like books. Remember, someone has to pick it up, and that someone may be you.

Don’t skimp on tape, either. That roll of light, transparent tape that you use for wrapping birthday presents isn’t going to be much help when it comes to holding a moving box together. Neither will mailing tape. Get strong packing tape, preferably with a dispenser that will make the job go more quickly.

Many of your items will need padding so they don’t break during the move. You can buy bubble wrap or foam peanuts. You can use towels and sheets that you were going to move anyway.

Newspapers are OK as packing materials, but they come with a hazard: ink. Newspaper ink is better than it used to be, but it still rubs off. Don’t use it to pack items that you don’t want smudged or that can’t be washed easily when you reach your destination.

In short, even if you don’t want to spend money on new moving materials, scout out what’s available and make wise choices. Pro packaging means professional protection for your belongings during a move.