moose’s moving tips

Actually it’s more like Moose’s packing tips but ‘Moose’s Moving Tips’ has a better ring to it.
Moose was the lead packer from the moving company who did our pack out.
He was a big, local, North Shore guy and he let me pick his brain for his years of packing wisdom.
I’ve combined his tips along with our own into one large PCS cheat sheet.

Disclaimer: This list is not all-inclusive and definitely should be adjusted as needed for each move.

  • Be Ready
    This was Moose’s biggest tip. Be ready for when the packers arrive. Your house should be clean {not white glove inspection clean but there shouldn’t be animal feces on the floor either}
    Have all of the prep work you need to do done before they arrive. {more on that shortly}
    If it’s dirty, it gets packed dirty. This is why we don’t move with toilet bowl brushes and plungers.
    Have childcare arranged and the Army Brats out of the house before the packers arrive.

The Army Brats watching a movie on the night of the 1st day of pack out.

  • Make Sure Your Luggage is Packed and Locked Away
    We packed all 8 pieces of our luggage beforehand and locked it into our bathroom during packing. We had already removed anything that needed to be packed from the bathroom and put it in with our bedroom stuff. On day two we moved all of our luggage to The Cadet’s room since his room was completely packed and cleared on day 1. This gave us a place to stash stuff that we didn’t want packed throughout the move. Make sure you reserve some towels, a shower curtain, and bed linens etc. Just because your stuff is moving out, doesn’t mean you necessarily are.

Our trunks stacked in our bathtub

  • Group Like Items Together – Specifically Pro Gear, Pictures and Artwork, and Books
    Moose let us know that this is a big help for the movers and ultimately a huge time saver once your stuff arrives at your new home. We moved all of the books scattered about the house to the book closet upstairs. This was no small feat. {turns out, this bibliophile has close to 750lbs of books} We also took down all of the picture frames and paintings and moved them to one location. We separated My Soldier’s Pro Gear (short for professional gear) and my Pro Gear and placed them in one location (separate from each other). Pro Gear doesn’t count towards your weight allowance so it’s important to keep it separate so they can indicate it on the inventory.
    The reason separating this stuff out proved to be so helpful on the Bama end of things was because we could just ignore it. All the books (still in boxes) got shoved in the guest room closet, the pictures and paintings (unpacked) got placed in the dining room once we figured out that they weren’t damaged. My Soldier’s Pro Gear went straight into our storage closet and mine was placed in my new sewing area. Then it was all just left alone until more important rooms were unpacked and settled.
  • Don’t Shove Everything In One Room
    Whoops. All of that lovely organizing from the previous bullet-point all got consolidated into what was formally The Book Room. This made it really difficult for the guys to pack up that room since they didn’t have much space to move around in.

Our pictures and paintings grouped together in the overly packed Book Room

  • Remove Trash From Everything
    Our packers seemed to have common sense enough to at least check the garbage cans before they packed them (which were already empty), but I’ve heard horror stories of full trash cans being shipped to Germany. What a less-than-pleasant surprise when they unpacked on that end.
  • Remove ALL Batteries, Hazardous Materials, Aerosol Cans, Open Liquids, and Cleaners
    Liquid, hazardous, explosive, corrosive. That’s the rule of thumb I kept chanting in my head. All the batteries we ended up packing in our luggage, we didn’t really have any aerosol cans, the open liquids and cleaners we gave away to friends. A note on closed liquids: we moved with several unopened liquid food items that still had their original seal. Our movers were fine with this, but you need to ask and clarify. Melanie let me know that when they moved from Alaska it was a strict no liquid policy in case anything froze during shipping. Some people aren’t willing to risk it and some shipping companies will void your claim if there is damage from a packed liquid. You’ve been warned.
  • Buy Plastic Bags and Disposable Tupperware and Use It
    We bought a box each of the snack , quart, and gallon sized plastic bags. We used them in every area of the house to consolidate items. Since we moved most of our dry goods this time around, we placed it all into plastic bags and then into those disposable Tupperware containers like Gladware. Building a pantry from scratch is a royal pain and super expensive. We had an unopened 13lb bag of Jasmine Rice that I wasn’t about to give away, not to mention all of my expensive spices. We are SO grateful that we didn’t have to start from scratch when we moved in this time.
  • Remove Hardware from Anything They Aren’t Disassembling
    It’s the movers responsibility to disassemble large furniture pieces like beds and tables, but some stuff doesn’t need it like book shelves. Remove the little pegs that hold up the shelves in your bookshelf and place them in a bag that is clearly labeled and then write down where you put that bag (ie in the tool box). We’ve had those little guys go missing and in the case of a lovely corner kitchen hutch, they were a contributing factor in the shelves being destroyed during transit. This also applies to lots of other hardware items like the brackets that hold up curtain rods. Place them all in plastic bags and label, label, label.
  • Make Sure Your Boxes and Inventory are Properly Labeled
    It’s the packer responsibility to label all of the boxes, but sometimes they can be a little vague. I kept a Sharpie on hand, in a different color than the packers were using, and would go behind them and add additional labels as need be. Also make sure that what goes on the inventory is accurate (or there at all). Some of our boxes of books {there were 20 or more. and yes, i’m aware i have a problem} never got labeled and never ended up on the inventory list. Not a big deal since it was pretty easy to figure out what happened, but it got frustrating when we were looking for something that got packed with the books.
  • Make A Personal Inventory of All Your Belongings
    This is just a good practice for insurance purposes anyways. Our inventory got rushed due to the rushed nature of this PCS so instead of a written inventory we have it on video. Written is better for insurance purposes, but a video is better than nothing. We went through every room in our house and took video of ALL of our belongings, making sure to open drawers (even clothing drawers) and narrate along the way. We document our book collection through Goodreads so that was already taken care of. Make sure to make verbal notes of the condition of your more expensive items, showing that electronics like BluRay players and TVs work properly. It seems a bit over the top, but I have a Chaplain friend who was part of the counseling team for a group of 200+ families stationed in Germany who lost EVERYTHING to a warehouse fire. 2 years later and they are still sorting through the claims. We stored a copy of the videos in Dropbox and kept a copy with us. We also had photo documentation of serial numbers for all our high value items and electronics that traveled with us.
  • Keep Original Boxes With Packing Materials
    It seems like a HUGE waste of space, but keep the original boxes for things like TVs, printers, video game systems, bizarre shaped electronics (like my serger) and the packing material that came with it. Moose informed us that he has unpacked countless broken TVs because no matter how well they try and pack them, there is no such thing as a one-size fits all TV box. We have the original boxes for our TV, BluRay player, serger, printer, record player and a a couple of other smaller items. Every time we open up those boxes and find the items in perfect condition we are thankful for the wasted space.
  • Watch Them Like Hawks, Treat Them Like Humans
    Don’t believe the myth that you can just sit back and relax while the packers pack up your life. You very much need to be an active participant during pack-out. You need to watch them pack everything. This is  both for quality control and security. Don’t assume that anyone is out to rob you, but it happens. A lot of damage can be avoided if you’re available to give specific packing instructions. Betty for example is not your run of the mill sewing machine. She’s a vintage, hefty broad, that lives in an equally vintage and hefty cabinet. I was very involved in how she got packed, making sure that she was well cushioned and in a box where she would remain upright. Moose has been packing people regularly for 15+ years and had never packed a machine like mine in the cabinet. It’s better to have input than let them guess, and they appreciate it too. Along with watching them pack, treat them like ROYALTY!! Seriously, spoil them. Buy them Starbucks and lunch. Talk with them, get to know them. They aren’t your slaves, this is their job, and honestly they are saving you a ton of work and likely doing a better job than you could do yourself. We bought them coffee and McDonald’s breakfast everyday, Gatorade throughout the day and lunch. Ask them what they would like though, most of them never want to see another piece of pizza so strike that from your list. If they don’t want food insist on tipping them. This is both a ‘Thank You’ for a job well done {and for putting up with your OCD issues with your sewing machine} and incentive to do just as well for the rest of the pack out.

Loading the truck

Bonus points if you actually read through that and aren’t planning on moving in the near future.
I actually have a second post planned on what we packed in our luggage and how I planned to live out of suitcases for 6 weeks.
That post can wait till much later though.

Hope this was helpful!


  3 comments for “moose’s moving tips

  1. 08.15.2012 at 17:26

    This will be very helpful when we move out of Hawaii!!!! Thanks for taking the time to write this out!

  2. Bethany
    08.15.2012 at 20:03

    Seriously SO helpful and we’re not even with the Army! I will definitely be using your expertise in packing/moving when we’re packing our container (whenever that is). Looking forward to Part 2!

  3. 08.16.2012 at 23:33

    Hi Megan..
    Good for you sharing the information..Thanks for writing such good posts..I do expect that you will be posting nice posts like this on a regular basis.

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