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Items You Can't Hand-Carry on a PCS

by Rebecca Alwine - October 1st, 2021

Items You Can't Hand-Carry on a PCS

A friend recently asked me my top piece of advice for a military move. She’d moved a few times before, but they were certainly not seamless moves. I immediately thought of 5 items military families should pack themselves with some really good tips.

Packing things to carry yourself is never on the top of my list of PCS advice for military families. Sure, I packed some of these things in my car last week, but that was because I wanted to use them on my trip, not because I didn’t want the packers touching them.

I think it’s because my first two moves were overseas, where there is absolutely no way to take all of the things you’d shove in your minivan with you. So my mentality has shifted. For those who don’t have enough room, or are moving overseas, I’ve offered up some alternative advice.


When moving overseas, you have the option of putting things in non-temporary storage. Remember, all of your shipments combined, including storage, still have to fall within your weight allowance. If you’d prefer not to have these valuable items put on a ship in a crate, perhaps storage is safer?

Utilizing family and friends during a military move

If you are stopping by mom’s house before going to your overseas destination, perhaps she can keep the antique tapestry you don’t want the movers touching. You could, of course, mail these things either to a trusted friend, family member, or yourself overseas. However, I trust the US Postal Service even less than I trust the packers with my great grandmother’s tea cups.

Take it with you

Of course, I am NOT suggesting you put your samurai sword in your carry-on.  But, if you want to carefully wrap up special pieces and pack them among clothes in your suitcase, it is a great option. Again, you run the risk of TSA manhandling it or the suitcase being lost, but the chances are much lower than it getting lost in the mail.

Take your chances on a military

This was my technique with each military move. I let the packers move it. Sure, I asked them to take special care, I watched them carefully and then put it out of my mind until we arrived at our destination. I was lucky each and every time. We’ve never had an irreplaceable item lost or broken during a military move. We’ve had incredibly good packers and movers.

In fact, with plenty of room in my minivan at the moment, I still sent 99% of our household goods with the moving company. Aside from clothes, toiletries, and some kitchen supplies (again, packed for use on the other end), the only thing we included in the van was the fire safe box.

We weighed-in at a measly 350 pounds in the van for our partial-DITY move. But, we have everything we need, and we’ll be just fine if we need to camp for a few days before the truck arrives. There’s always Wal-Mart, the local lending closet, and the military community at your new installation to borrow from.

What unique thing do you prefer to pack with you when you move? Can you fit it into your suitcase for an overseas PCS?

Rebecca Alwine

Rebecca Alwine is an Army wife, mother of three and lover of her adorable pirate dog. Over the past 15 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, lifting weights and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her days consist of working out in her garage gym, audiobooks and pretending to cook while her Instant Pot and Air Fryer do all the work. Her motto: work smarter, not harder.