Prop Packing and Shipping Tips 2023

If your team is going to Global Finals for the first time, you might be wondering how to properly pack your team’s props so they will arrive in good condition.

On this page, we’d like to offer a few tips on packing and shipping props, along with some photos to show you what other teams have done to help protect their props during shipment.

You should also read the Prop Info page on the Global Finals website. You’ll find information there about the hours of operation of the prop area, the size of the elevators your team will need to use to transport your props to your Challenge site, etc.

Labeling Props

All props shipped to Global Finals in advance must be labeled with Destination Imagination’s Global Finals 2023 Prop Shipment Label. This label is an editable PDF form, so you should be able to type in all of the information once, and then print as many copies of the label as you’ll need. Your team’s assigned booth number should arrive in a message from DI, so you’ll want to email DI HQ if you haven’t received it.

It’s very important to securely attach copies of this label to ALL of the crates or boxes that you are shipping to Global Finals. Labels MUST be attached to all of the items in your team’s shipment, and should be clearly visible on at least two sides of each box. This will prevent problems if one of the labels is damaged or lost during shipping, and will make it easy for the staff at Prop Valet to read the labels without having to move items around to see them.

Road Hazards

Most of the props shipped to Global Finals ahead of time will go there on a truck. After the props have arrived at Prop Valet, the props will be loaded onto a second truck for delivery to the Convention Center. This is a photo taken inside the New Hampshire Prop Truck as it was being loaded:

Your props will travel hundreds of miles on a trip that will include many stops, starts, and bumps. This is going to cause the contents of the truck to move around a bit. As you can see, the boxes and crates on the Prop Truck are packed fairly tightly, but there is still some wiggle room between them that will allow the props to shift around a bit as the truck moves.

Packing Props

Finished surfaces could be damaged if they rub against other props, or are pushed against the walls of the truck or other props. Delicate items could break if they rattle around inside the crates or boxes in which they were packed. To prevent damage during shipment, you’ll need to protect the outer surfaces of your props, and keep fragile items from moving around.

Sturdy shipping crates provide excellent protection for the props packed inside, and they can be loaded and unloaded using a forklift.

Dan Smith from California Destination Imagination has documented how to build a crate for freight shipping. This isn’t the only way to build a shipping crate, but it’s a very helpful resource for anybody who has never done this before.

Of course, you would also need to be careful about how you pack the items within the crate, so they won’t be damaged if they shift around when the crate is moved. Wrapping any breakable items in bubble wrap would be a good way to protect them.

Shipping is expensive, so most teams don’t bring large props back with them from Global Finals. Instead, they discard any large items before the end of Global Finals. This is why the New Hampshire Prop Truck only provides one-way shipping to Global Finals.

It’s nice when teams can keep their props on display in their designated booth area for a little while after their Team Challenge, so everyone has an opportunity to see them. At some point, though, they’ll need to go. This is your team’s opportunity to smash to bits the props that gave you the most trouble!

If you are shipping everything on our Prop Truck, you won’t necessarily have to build wooden crates to hold your props. Here are a few alternatives that other teams have devised.

We’re not sure how well these packaging methods would work for props shipped using a common carrier like UPS or FedEx Ground. However, they should be fine for props shipped to Global Finals on the New Hampshire Prop Truck. Just don’t forget to attach the official shipping labels!