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7 Things Military Movers Won’t Pack

Written by: The ADPI Team

You have your orders, and the movers will arrive in a few days. You have read all the information given to you, and you still have questions. One of the biggest questions is, what will military movers pack?

When the military movers arrive, they will want to go right to work packing your household goods for the move. If you understand what the military movers won’t pack, the process will go much faster and smoother. We’ll discuss what movers will pack and what will need to be discarded or packed in your vehicle for the move.

What Personal Baggage Will Military Movers Pack?

The military movers won’t pack your luggage if the airline handles it for free. In most instances, if you are driving your vehicles to your next assignment, you will want your personal baggage with you. Check with the airline about the size and weight restrictions. 

There may be a time delay before the military movers deliver your stuff to your new accommodations. You will need the basic personal gear to ensure you have what you need for those days. In addition, you may pack special items that you want to protect during the move. 

Will Military Movers Move Personal Vehicles?

Military movers won’t move any sort of vehicle. If it rolls, flies, or floats, you must make other arrangements for these items. There are some exceptions to this rule. As a rule, you are responsible for dealing with relocating your vehicles.

By and large, the prohibited list of items that military movers will handle include:

  • Cars, trucks, and motorcycles
  • Boats, jet skies
  • Trailers including utility trailers and camper trailers
  • Airplanes

However, some military movers may move kayaks or canoes. Whether the movers will handle a kayak or canoe depends largely on the mover and how much room they have in the container or truck.

For shorter moves, most military families convoy their vehicles to their next duty station. For longer moves, there are transportation companies that will move larger items like travel trailers, boats and even cars for a fee. Unfortunately, the cost for these services is not part of the military move package, and you are on the hook for these costs.

Are Pets Allowable by Military Movers?

Military movers will not knowingly move pets. You must make arrangements for transporting your pets to your new duty station in a safe way. Take care to put your animals in a safe environment when the movers arrive. Pets who like to hide in boxes have been accidentally packed.

Pets are huge parts of our families and deserve the best treatment possible when making a move. Military movers will not pack anything alive. This prohibition includes

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Fish
  • Hamsters
  • Snakes
  • Horses

If it breathes, the movers won’t pack it. If you have a hamster cage and the hamster Is safe in a pet carrier, the movers will pack the hamster run. Likewise, for aquariums, provided the tank is empty and dry. 

When the movers arrive, you should gather all your pets, especially cats and dogs, and put them in a safe confined area. Many small pets will suffer stress as the movers work in the house. Cats, in particular, have been known to hide in boxes or even inside a couch. Many animals who inadvertently get into the moving van don’t survive the ordeal.

Can Military Movers pack My Building Materials?

Military movers won’t pack construction materials. If you are a home handyman, you may have a collection of building materials slated for a project in the future. Unfortunately, this building material is not on the approved moving list. You may need to reschedule or replan those craft projects.

This prohibition on building materials also covers cordwood. That stack of firewood you have ready for the next cold season isn’t going with you to your next duty station. Think of it as a contribution to the next occupants of your house and a welcoming gift. 

What Sports Equipment will Military Movers Handle?

Military movers will pack most outdoor gear. Fishing gear, camping gear, hiking equipment and most sports equipment are acceptable. There are a few exceptions that fall under the prohibited items list. Chief among these is ammunition.

If you are a hunter or competitive sport shooter, the military movers will not move your ammunition. There are some other gray areas in this category. Among these are:

  • Reloading Equipment – If your reloading equipment is broken down and doesn’t have loose powder or primers, the movers may, at their discretion, pack the equipment. You should prepare your reloading equipment in advance to make sure the equipment is clean disassembled. 
  • Reloading Supplies – Most military movers won’t pack and transport primers or powder. These products are considered hazardous materials and are on the prohibited list. You must make other arrangements for transporting your reloading supplies to your new home.
  • Guns – Some military movers won’t pack or transport your guns. We have some reservations about those who will.  Guns are valuable property and attractive to thieves. We recommend that you transport your guns yourself and keep them in your control.

Another concern with some sports equipment is weight. You have a weight allowance, and if your move goes over the weight allowance, you are responsible for the additional costs. Some sports equipment can get heavy quickly. Before you ask the movers to pack your weight set or your universal gym, make sure you won’t go over your weight limit.

What do Military Movers Consider Hazardous Materials? 

Most military movers have many substances they consider hazardous and won’t pack with your household goods. Some of these products you may not recognize as hazardous. You will find these materials in your garage, your kitchen, and your bathroom. Military movers will leave these out as they pack.

In general, any liquid product that is not in a sealed package or has a flammable or dangerous label is considered a hazardous material. This prohibition can include some products you might never consider.

  • Cleaning agents and disinfectants – Most of these products come in a spray bottle. These spray bottles are notorious for failing during moves. Rather than risk the chance of your other belongings being contaminated or ruined, military movers won’t pack these items.
  • Flammable materials – Don’t expect your military moving company to pack your gas can. Likewise, propane tanks are prohibited, as is any other product clearly labeled as flammable. This prohibition includes spray lubricants, spray paints, insecticides and herbicides, and many automotive maintenance materials.
  • Paints and Varnishes – Military movers will set aside paint cans, varnish cans, and most wood stains during the packing process. These items are prohibited for several reasons, not the least of which is the chance the containers could open and get into or on your other possessions.
  • Pool and Spa Chemicals – Chlorine and other chemicals used to treat and maintain pools and spas are prohibited. In most instances, you probably aren’t moving a pool to your next duty station. You may move your spa. In any case, the pool and spa chemicals are prohibited by the military movers.
  • Batteries – Most military movers won’t pack and move batteries. Batteries can leak or explode, putting your other possessions at risk. This prohibition includes batteries for power tools, batteries in electronics, and batteries in toys.

In general, if the product is labeled hazardous, flammable, or poisonous, the military movers probably will set it aside. The prohibition on these products is for the mover’s safety and the safety of your possessions.

Will Military Movers Pack My Kitchen?

Military movers easily handle utensils like knives, spatulas, and other cooking accessories. Hard goods like pots, pans and dishes will move nicely. Food and other goods are an entirely different matter and probably will be set aside by the movers. These goods pose unique challenges

Many people ask if the military movers will move their food. The factors that determine whether food will move include:

  • Military movers will usually pack dry food in its original container or box with the seals intact. 
  • Canned food is really at the discretion of the military movers.
  • Wet food not in the original container and sealed will be set aside.
  • Frozen food is a prohibited item and won’t be packed by the military movers
  • Spices are generally on the prohibited list, especially if they are open.

The best advice we can give is to discuss with the military movers when they won’t pack from your kitchen. You may have to make alternative arrangements to move these items or discard them and by new when you arrive at your new home.

Other Considerations When the Military Movers Arrive

Consideration other than prohibited items comes into play when the military moving company arrives.  You have weight considerations and the possibility of packing and moving heirloom or family treasures. While these items may be allowed, you must make decisions about what moves and what doesn’t.

Budgeting your weight is a challenge at times. We all accumulate a lot of stuff as our lives progress. Unfortunately, some of this stuff is heavy and bulky. These items can blow your weight limit out of the water quickly if you aren’t careful.

Weight Considerations – What Goes and What Doesn’t

You already know that you have a weight limit on your move. Unfortunately, as generous as the weight limits, it is often hard to stay under that weight limit. Trying to stay under a weight limit can lead to some hard decisions.

The list of heavy items that can quickly eat up a weight limit include:

  • Exercise Equipment – Exercise and workout equipment often involve some heavyweights. Weight limit busting is especially true of weightlifting equipment and universal gyms. Adding this equipment to the packing list often puts your total weight well over your weight limit.
  • Pianos – Pianos are often family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately, pianos are heavy and can eat up a large chunk of your weight allowance. There is often no question about moving a piano, but you may want to consider selling and buying again at your next home where there are no sentimental or family attachments.
  • Power Tools – Large floor-type power tools are heavy. In most instances, military movers will pack and load this type of equipment. However, the weight represented by these tools may put you over your weight limits. 

For many, staying under the weight limits on your move is a challenge. You must make hard decisions about various items you want to transport via the military movers in some instances. The alternative is to bite the bullet and pay for the excess weight yourself.

Precious or Heirloom Possessions

We don’t advise allowing military movers to pack sentimental or heirloom items. Why risk damage to these keepsakes from the past when you can pack them with your other goods and take them with you. 

If you have especially precious items for you or your family, don’t entrust these items to the military movers. While most military movers are professional and conscientious, they work on a schedule that can make them a bit careless.  

Packing these heirlooms and sentimental items yourself protects them from accidental mishandling and damage. Better to have a few more items of baggage than risk losing a memento or remembrance.

Can the Military Packers Move My Houseplants?

Don’t count on the military movers packing your houseplants. It isn’t a good idea anyway. You have no control of the atmospheric conditions and the length of time your plants will be without care. Plants have a limited time they can deal with harsh conditions.

 Military movers are quite specific in not moving anything alive and require care.  Alive includes, of course, pets and other animals but extends to house plants as well 

If you must move your houseplants to your new home, moving them yourself is a better option. You can control the environmental conditions and give your plants the loving care they need to survive the move.

Making the Move

The local military transportation office that arranges your move can give you more detailed information on what the movers will and will not pack.  Different moving companies are under contract to the military, and each company can set its policies on what they will move

The military has been moving people across the continent and around the world for many years. The experience of the military in managing these moves is legendary. For the most part, most military families who deal with making a move to a new duty location find the support of the military a comforting presence.

Looking for Housing at Your Next Station?

If you’re looking to buy property at your next duty station, don’t forget about the services Active Duty Passive Income offers! ADPI not only has an amazing real estate agent network, but also has an in-house lending team that services most states in the U.S. You can also join ADPI’s Facebook Group to get networking with like-minded people that will point you in the right direction!


Kelly Madden

Kelly Madden

Kelly is a 14-year Air Force spouse, real estate agent, real estate investor, and virtual assistant. After starting out as an intern with ADPI in 2019 and later acting as ADPI’s blog coordinator in Jan 2020, Kelly is thrilled and honored to take on the role of ADPI’s new Community Manager as of November 2020. She looks forward to building our community and supporting our members throughout their real estate investing journey.
Kelly Madden

Kelly Madden

Kelly is a 14-year Air Force spouse, real estate agent, real estate investor, and virtual assistant. After starting out as an intern with ADPI in 2019 and later acting as ADPI’s blog coordinator in Jan 2020, Kelly is thrilled and honored to take on the role of ADPI’s new Community Manager as of November 2020. She looks forward to building our community and supporting our members throughout their real estate investing journey.
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Our team strives to educate, mentor and empower active duty service members, veterans, spouses and military families to reach financial freedom through creating passive income through real estate investing. Our goal is for Active Duty Passive Income (ADPI) members to own as much of America as possible.