Packing montagePacking your stuff yourself is an excellent way to avoid costs when moving, but if you’re taking a DIY approach, the single most important thing to know is what not to pack. Moving professionals are trained to look for normal household items that are actually hazardous and often illegal to ship. Being proactive in the planning process can eliminate the risk for potential surprises (not the good kind) and save time along the way. Because no one wants their moving day to end up in disaster.

Know what not to pack

Your moving company should provide you with a list of “non-allowables,” an industry term for things professional movers won’t transport. The list not only includes intuitive items like ammunition and gasoline (truck fires are frowned upon), but also less-obvious things such as nail polish and toy chemistry sets.

Below is a list of some of the most common non-allowables, but you can check out a full list here. You might notice that alcohol is included… if you ask us, that’s a perfect excuse to invite all your friends over and throw yourself a little going away shindig.

Think “out of the box” – literally:

  • Aerosol cans (regardless of content)
  • Flammables (like Sterno, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, and lighters)
  • Nail polish and remover
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Alcohol
  • Any type of gas in bottles or tanks (including propane or oxygen)
  • Paints, varnishes, solvents, thinners and oils
  • Household cleaners (like ammonia and bleach)
  • Batteries
  • Ammunition
  • Fertilizers and pesticides

Food for thought

Here’s a piece of trivia you probably didn’t know: although they’re not hazardous, perishable foods and plants also pop up on moving companies’ things-not-to-pack list. Even though they’re not flammable or toxic, they can attract bugs, rats, and other pests that could damage your property — zero fun for anyone. Common perishables are things like:

  • Frozen or refrigerated food
  • Produce
  • Open food items
  • Plants (indoor and outdoor)
  • Fresh herbs
  • Flowers

Feel terrible throwing away food, though? No worries; consider donating those perishables to a group like Move For Hunger or a local shelter, soup kitchen, place of worship or safe house.

What to keep handy

Now that you know what you can’t pack, it’s time to think about what you probably shouldn’t pack. We recommend you keep personal items (things like daily necessities, items of sentimental value, and important documents) off of moving trucks as well. It’s kind of like the difference between carry-on and checked baggage when flying: anything that you use on the daily or anything that would be inconvenient at best (or heartbreaking at worst) to lose should probably go with you. Things like:

  • Prescription medications
  • Stocks, bonds and securities
  • Identification documents (birth certificate, social security card, etc.)
  • Collections (such as coins and stamps)
  • Insurance policies
  • Currency
  • Jewelry and furs

It’s not a bad idea to put together a moving-in kit of the sorts of things you’ll need for the first night or two in the new place, regardless of how quickly you unpack. Check out our list of 10 essentials here.

Of course, it’s likely that you’ll still have to slate some things of personal value for transport on the moving truck. Fitting grandma’s vintage armoire into your Fiat? Probably not gonna happen. This is a good time to start thinking about moving insurance; luckily, our moving insurance primer is the perfect place to start.

Whichever way you chose to move — insurance or no insurance — don’t go it alone; let Moveline help. We’ll make sure you get from point A to B with as little stress as possible. Learn about our services, connect with a mover, and get started on your move today.