What Not to Pack When Moving – Things It’s Better to Leave Behind

November 1, 2021Moving Tips
Lucy Lucas

Born and raised in Miami Lucy is a content writer with a love of moving and packing. She is an expert at making sure everything fits into her suitcase.

Learning what not to pack when moving is one of the crucial things you have to do before calling a relocation company. Just like you have to remember all the essentials that have to be packed, you also have to know what to get rid of. Some stuff is forbidden, while other things are simply not worth relocating. Check out what you shouldn’t take with you when shipping your belongings to another state.

Imagine wrapping something and loading it on a relocation truck, just to learn that that object can’t be moved. This is the moment when the hectic process of relocating becomes even more unbearable. Before you take every single item in your home and place it in a box, make sure you’re aware of which objects can’t be moved and which are better left behind when moving out of state.

First on the List of What Not to Pack When Moving Is Clutter

When it comes to making a relocation to-do list, decluttering should always be the first task. Learning how to downsize for a move will save you the time you would otherwise spend wrapping stuff you’ll never use again. This is not to say that you should only bring the absolute relocation essentials – still, go room by room and make a list of what to get rid of when moving. Check the storage areas first, such as the attic, garage, and basement. Everything you find that hasn’t been used for more than a year shouldn’t be on your list for relocating to a new home, especially if you’re relocating from a house to an apartment and you’ll have less space in your new home.

Think Twice About All the Bulky Objects

Any item that’s heavy and big and will take up a lot of space in the relocation vehicle is a candidate for the list of what not to pack. Think twice about all of your old furniture and appliances and decide whether it’s better to leave them behind and buy new ones or to pay for their transport. Relocation to a new home is a great opportunity to let go of your old household items and replace them with new and better ones.

Decluttering Saves You Money, but It Can Also Help You Earn Some

Not taking all of your possessions with you to another state is not only time-efficient but also cost-efficient. You’ll save on packing materials, and space in the relocation truck. This is why leaving the clutter behind is one of the main answers to how to save on relocation costs. Another pro is that you will not only save money to move but also earn some more. If your belongings are in good condition, you can sell them online or at a garage sale. In the video below, you can see the 5 best apps to sell your stuff:

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There’s No Room on the Relocation Truck for Any Hazardous Items

If you wish to have a stress-free move and avoid anxiety about moving out, keep in mind that any kind of hazardous item isn’t allowed for transportation. Relocation companies avoid shipping certain types of items due to safety reasons. This includes stuff like fuel-powered equipment, toxic chemicals, lamp oil, and even nail polish. Tumbling them around with the rest of the boxes can cause an explosion or start a fire, which is something that can’t be allowed by any household and car shipping company. For a safe relocation, keep in mind the items movers won’t move:

  • Ammunition,
  • Guns,
  • Fireworks,
  • Fire extinguishers,
  • Fuel and all power equipment that contains fuel in the tank,
  • Bleach,
  • Acids,
  • Chemicals,
  • Nail polish,
  • Nail polish removers,
  • Paints,
  • Thinners,
  • Pesticides,
  • Lamp oil,
  • Fertilizers
  • Aerosol cans.


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Don’t Just Leave These Items Behind – You Need to Dispose of Them the Right Way

Hazardous things can’t be simply thrown away like other stuff. There are specific regulations for disposing of anything potentially dangerous for the environment. If you wish to properly prepare for movers before they arrive, make sure you find out what the state regulations for disposing of the stuff we listed above are. You can also check online if there’s a company that offers disposal services. Also, the labels on the hazardous materials often include the recommended way of disposing of them. Keep everything in the original container and decide whether you want to donate this stuff or drop it off at the nearest place that takes care of toxic and flammable materials.

Bins for disposing of dangerous and other materials
All hazardous materials have specific protocols for disposal

Keep Your Boxes Free of Any Perishables

As your relocation day approaches, start thinking about the food you have in your fridge and freezer. None of that can be transported to another state due to the logistics of the relocation. Fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and everything else that needs to be refrigerated won’t survive the trip since it can sometimes take up to 21 business days for the relocation crew to deliver your possessions to your destination. Even with the best packing tips, food can’t be transported. Plan your meals so that you can eat everything you have in your home or simply throw a dinner party and say goodbye to your family and friends. Another option is to contact a non-profit organization that accepts food donations, such as the Feeding America Food Bank.

Non-Perishable Food Can Be Moved

Exotic spices, oils, dried fruit, or anything canned that hasn’t been opened can be shipped on a long-distance move. Get enough quality packing supplies and protect each container with paper and plastic wrap. After that, place everything in a box that’s padded and tape it well. Just one more tip to be extra careful – before packing anything, check the expiration date.

Perishable food packed in glass jars
Perishables won't make it to another state without going bad and moldy

You Can’t Ship Anything Alive

If you’re relocating with pets or wondering how to ship live plants with you, we have some bad news. Neither can be loaded on relocation trucks for a cross-country move. The reason behind this is very simple – there isn’t anyone who can take care of living beings once they’re loaded. Movers won’t water your plants or feed your pet, neither on the vehicle nor in the warehouse. Also, there won’t be enough fresh air or light, and the temperature isn’t regulated during transport.

Think of an Alternative Way to Move Your Precious Pets and Plants

The best solution would be to transport plants and pets with you in the car. Animals aren’t fond of changes, so it can be problematic to move them to another part of the country. Organize the trip so that they feel comfortable, plan potty breaks, and check where the pet-friendly places you and your family can spend the night are. Also, don’t forget to contact the veterinarian and get all their necessary documentation, meds, and records.

Plants also need a lot of light and adjusted temperatures, but there are ways to ship them in your car. It’s just important to take care of the pots and the soil so that it doesn’t spill.

However, if you plan on getting car shipping services on an open trailer, or you’re considering enclosed auto transport services, you might want to consider traveling by plane or getting pet transportation services. Check if that fits into your relocation budget and book everything on time.

A dog enjoying a road trip
Get ready for a fun road trip if you plan on relocating with pets and plants

Don’t Pack Documents – Keep Them With You at All Times

Do you know how to organize important documents at home? If not, it’s time to figure that out as well. All of your documents, such as the passport, ID, driver’s license, insurance policies, and alike, should all be placed in one folder. Once you do that, don’t pack it – keep it in sight at all times. One of the biggest and most common relocation mistakes is to put your important documents in some box or suitcase and forget where they are. Avoid frantic ripping of the boxes five minutes before the relocation crew arrives, and always know where your documents are. This also applies to medical and dental records, prescriptions for medication, and all other important papers you own.

A person reading a document about door to door auto transport
Go through documents and paperwork and put the important ones in a folder you'll keep with you

Valuables Shouldn’t Be Shipped on a Relocation Truck Either

If you wish to avoid worrying about the well-being of your valuable stuff, don’t leave it on the relocation truck. That includes anything expensive, antique, delicate, or of sentimental value. Those items should be with you in the car or in a bag of necessities. All of your keys, cash, credit cards, jewelry, laptops, and similar must be in one place, carefully packed, and always at your fingertips, regardless of your reasons to move.

What Not to Pack When Moving? Anything That Can’t Be Reimbursed

Reputable relocation companies usually provide insurance packages for long-distance shipments. However, even with the best insurance, some stuff can’t be replaced, no matter the amount of money you receive. When packing your stuff, think – is this something I can replace? If the answer is yes, leave it on the truck. If not, keep it with you, no matter what.

A credit card used to pay for the terminal to terminal car shipping
Priceless possessions shouldn't be loaded on the relocation vehicle

The Relocation Company You Choose Will Have All the Answers

If you have any kind of dilemma or a question regarding a specific item, it’s always best to ask the company you hired. They will inform you of their own regulations, as well as those that apply across the relocation industry. There might be some more things to throw away when moving that weren’t mentioned here, so to be sure that you’ve done everything right, give your movers a call and check.

Contact the Moving Company on Time

The best way to survive this stressful period is to do everything in a timely manner. Once you learn how to choose a relocation company and pick the best time of the year to move, it’s crucial to contact the professionals at least three weeks ahead of the relocation date. That way, you will have enough time to learn all there is about what can and can’t be loaded on the relocation vehicle, and you’ll be sure that you’re prepared for the movers.

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