Top 5 Trickiest Items To Pack

By FedEx | January 21, 2021

Fragile and sensitive shipments are sent across the world every day. Packing some unconventional items can be tricky. We share top tips to keep your items safe.

Across Asia, Lunar New Year is one of the busiest times for e-commerce and online orders. As we head into the Year of the Ox, consumers and businesses in China and South East Asia are busy with festival orders - decorations and flowers; food and wine - to partake in the festivities.

But have you wondered what goes into packing some of these items – delicate, perishable or sensitive to their environment – that aren’t the easiest to ship?

How is seafood packed to stay as fresh upon arrival as it was on departure? What helps fragile plants stay in shape in transit? We share tips on how some popular items shipped during Chinese New Year are packaged!

1. When it comes to packing artwork, X marks the spot!

One failsafe at-home tip? Apply masking tape in a criss-cross or large ‘X’ from one corner to the other across the frame to avoid splintering or cracks.

You can spot a great piece of art from a mile away – but you might not know how to ship one! We often think of art as something static that hangs on walls. But from private collections to museum and gallery exhibitions - plus the artwork hanging in hotels, restaurants, offices and even train stations – framed art is purchased and transported all the time.

Sometimes, the works are priceless. In others, sentimental value piles on the pressure. Essential, then, that the piece travel unharmed and arrive in perfect condition.

One failsafe at-home tip? Apply masking tape in a criss-cross or large ‘X’ from one corner to the other across the frame to avoid splintering or cracks.

At FedEx, we offer special packaging such as Premium Art Boxes for high-value art shipments. Click here to find out more.
One failsafe at-home tip? Apply masking tape in a criss-cross or large ‘X’ from one corner to the other across the frame to avoid splintering or cracks.

2. Shipping flowers? Don’t leaf it to chance!

Contact between the plants’ blooms and leaves can lead to damage. You should always wrap the blooms and leaves in paper to provide extra cushioning when shipping.

There’s a special joy that comes with signing for a surprise delivery of flowers, right? But did you know that if specimens move too much during transit, the stems and leaves can get damaged, ruining their appearance or longevity? One of nature’s most fragile flowers also happens to be a seasonal favorite at this time of the year - the orchid.

Orchids are hugely popular in South East Asia and China – especially for birthdays or Lunar New Year gifts. This flower is seen as a symbol of luck and love. But orchids are one of the most delicate cuttings to transport. Ever wondered what it takes to ship them?

Contact between the plants’ blooms and leaves can lead to damage. You should always wrap the blooms and leaves in paper to provide extra cushioning when shipping.

Temperature differences should be taken into account too. When shipping tropical flowers to cold climates, make sure the packaging is designed to protect from temperature drops during shipment. As with all perishable items, try to avoid shipment on days that will require transit on a weekend or public holiday. For more tips on how to package at home, visit us here.
Contact between the plants’ blooms and leaves can lead to damage. You should always wrap the blooms and leaves in paper to provide extra cushioning when shipping.

3. Moving musical instruments? You can’t afford to play it by ear!

That’s why it’s important to choose a climate-appropriate shipping method as well as loosen the strings before you pack it. This will relieve tension and lessen any chance of damage.

Musical instruments can be some of the most nerve-wracking things to transport and pack. They’re sensitive to impact and environment, and hold extreme monetary and sentimental value for their sellers and buyers.

Wind, string and percussion instruments all have their quirks. Pianos, for example, feature 88 keys and over 10,000 moving parts. But did you know that one of the most commonly shipped pieces of musical kit is a guitar? This melody-making instrument brings a whole range of complexities to bear in mind when shipping - especially the strings! Temperature changes can easily cause the wood to expand and contract, affecting the tone and tempo.

That’s why it’s important to choose a climate-appropriate shipping method as well as loosen the strings before you pack it. This will relieve tension and lessen any chance of damage.
That’s why it’s important to choose a climate-appropriate shipping method as well as loosen the strings before you pack it. This will relieve tension and lessen any chance of damage.

4. No need to flounder – shipping seafood is simple once you know how!

If you’re shipping live seafood such as lobster or oysters, use gel coolants. These won’t leak and you can avoid the risk of your produce accidentally freezing.

Ever wondered how seafood reaches your plate super-fresh - and as delicious as the day it was caught? Maintaining product integrity is critical for edible goods, but special care must be taken around seafood. What’s important to remember: different temperature-control solutions work for different types of refrigerated products. Want to find out more? Check out our full guide to shipping perishables here.

Dry ice is a popular temperature-controllant, but you’ll need proper certification to comply with dangerous goods regulations. For obvious reasons like excess weight and risk of leaks, we don’t recommend wet ice.

If you’re shipping live seafood such as lobster or oysters, use gel coolants. These won’t leak and you can avoid the risk of your produce accidentally freezing.
If you’re shipping live seafood such as lobster or oysters, use gel coolants. These won’t leak and you can avoid the risk of your produce accidentally freezing.

5. Shipping bottles of the good stuff? Wine not check our tips for keeping them safe?

In addition to considering temperature-controlled shipments, remember that wine is heavy. Only use boxes that are intended to hold a wine’s weight.

Imagine the life cycle of a good wine. The years to grow the vines and tend the soil; the seasonal pruning and harvests; time in the cellar for ageing and – finally - bottling before being sold.

But as any wine lover will tell you, decades of work can be quickly undone if a wine is badly-stored or shipped. That’s because a cork-stoppered bottle of wine is a complex, temperamental mix of fermenting grapes, oxygen, and CO2 – and the contents are pressurized. Strict temperature controls can ensure wine arrives in the best possible condition ready to enjoy as intended.

Proper shipping can help you avoid damage to the quality of the wine in transit as well as physical damage to corks or bottles, which can essentially corrode in climates too hot or cold. This can occur in freezing aircraft holds, or hot tarmac when being offloaded from plane to truck.

Top tip? In addition to considering temperature-controlled shipments, remember that wine is heavy. Only use boxes that are intended to hold a wine’s weight.

Shipping wine is subject to customs regulations, which are different for every destination. Wondering what those requirements might look like? Visit our Customs Tools guide for more info.

For detailed step-by-step instructions to packing all the items above (and more!), download our comprehensive guide here. Some items may be categorized in the Dangerous Goods list subject to where you are shipping to. Fret not - we’ve got you. Click here to know more.

And don’t forget – our experts are here to help! It’s what we do. If there’s something tricky you need to ship, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Happy shipping!
In addition to considering temperature-controlled shipments, remember that wine is heavy. Only use boxes that are intended to hold a wine’s weight.

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