At some point or another, we all have to ship something across the country or across the world. Maybe it's a care package for a college student or a soldier; maybe it's a package of Christmas gifts to the family members that we won't get to see this year; maybe it's the family fruitcake and it's your turn to ship it this year. 

In any event, there are some of us who, even though we know  we will ship something at some point, we seem to have trouble knowing what we need or we forget what we need in order to ensure the shipment gets to its destination relatively unscathed. If it seems like you have inadequate supplies on hand, or you are just looking for some standard advice about shipping, we're providing a few quick tips here so your next shipment has safe travels.
  • Choose the right size package. One that is too big for the contents will collapse, while one that is too small will burst and break. Remember that many packages fly on planes at 30,000 feet, so air pressure is a factor.
  • Quality packing supplies. You should consider durability, cushioning and strength - and this even goes for the tape and other closing mechanisms for your package.
  • Use corrugated cardboard whenever possible. Double-layer it when you are shipping items of great monetary value. Corrugated cardboard is stronger and can hold its shape better in the rough-and-tumble world of cross-country shipping.
  • Plenty of cushion. Fill the box with as much packing material as you can so your item(s) wont move very much. Movement increases the risk of damage.
  • Straps. Encouraged to effectively seal your package, but if a strapping machine is not available, then strong packing tape may be used. Emphasis on strong.
  • Fragile items. They should be in the center of the package, not touching the sides, and have plenty of cushioning around them.
  • Pack liquids inside their own plastic bags, which contain  leak-free container for the liquid and some Styrofoam material.
  • Gels and similar semi-liquids should be packed and sealed with tape and wrapped in a paper that is grease-resistant. Note that any item not sealed and packed securely may damage other items in the package, or the package itself.
  • Sharp items. Scissors and knives, for example, should have firm cardboard wrapped around the edges/points, and the cardboard secured with strong tape so that the cardboard doesn't accidentally slide off.
  • CDs, DVDs and other similar items should be packed with cushioning individually, not as a group.
  • Use cardboard dividers when sending multiple flat items (like vinyl records, framed pictures, etc.).
  • Try to use capital letters whenever possible for addressing labels so they can be more easily read by the delivery person.

Keeping these tips in mind the next time you have a package to send - and being appropriately prepared - will help you feel some peace of mind that your package will arrive in the same shape as when it left.