Preparing for the Movers (Please Don’t Break my Stuff)

Preparing for the Movers (Please Don’t Break my Stuff)

One of the great benefits of your spouse being in the military is that you don’t have to pack your stuff! The Transportation Management Office (TMO) will come out and pack everything, everytime you move, with no cost to you. With that, there are a few things you will want to do beforehand to ensure everything goes smoothly:

  • Call and schedule a time as soon as you receive your hard copy orders (this is the official paper that says you’re actually leaving). TMO can book up quickly, especially during PCS season, so make it a priority to call them.
  • Make sure you’re ready 30 minutes prior to your time block. If they miss you, you have to schedule all over again. In the case of the
    Furnishings Management Office (FMO), you have to pay for them to come out again. Note that it’s a 4-hour time block like when you have to wait for the internet/cable guy.
  • Keep in mind that there is a weight limit on how much you can ship. This depends on your spouse’s rank and the location you’re going to. Your spouse should get this information once they are notified of their assignment.
  • Take pictures, but preferably a video, of your items–especially the high-value things like electronics, cars, and purses. Write down the tracking numbers of items like TVs and gaming systems. Because…..
  • If they break it, they buy it–you will get replacement value on the items you file a claim for. But if you don’t file the claim, you don’t get compensated. This is all done online on Defense Personal Property System (DPS) if you file your claim within 9 months. If after 9 months you haven’t filed your claim or found that something else is broken(such as Christmas or Halloween decorations) you have up to 2 years to file with the Military Claims Office. If you end up going the Military Claims route, you will not get as much back to replace your item. This link gives more information about filing a claim: https://move.mil/moving-guide/claims
  • This is optional, but not mandatory; we personally provide the movers with cold drinks. I have heard of others buying them lunch. Do what you feel is best for you and your finances.
  • Make sure the movers lay something over your flooring since they will be in and out. This will protect you from possibly losing your deposit because of stains or damage to the flooring.
  • Know where you generally want things to be, and let the movers know where to put them.
  • Schedule a time for them to pick up the boxes and packing paper once you are done unpacking in your new location.
  • You can also have TMO put all your furniture back together. There should be a hardware box that has all the hardware for your furniture. Sometimes it is found after they unload everything, but they are still supposed to put your furniture together if you would like that.
  • They can unpack all your boxes, but that just means everything is put on the counter. We always choose to unpack ourselves because we can figure out where we want things and we don’t clutter the house.
  • Do it Yourself (DITY) move–This is where you move your household yourself and the government reimburses you. There is more paperwork and a little more hassle with this method, but it can be more beneficial especially if it’s a short distance move. There is also a partial DITY where TMO moves the bigger stuff, like the furniture, and you move the smaller items on your own. Keep an eye out for a blog post that dives deeper into this topic in the next couple of weeks.
  • If you don’t want TMO to pack it, put it in a different room, preferably with a door you can close. If there is no door, I recommend putting blue painter tape diagonally across the door frame like this:
It’s great if you can close the door AND put tape across!
  • There are some things you can’t or don’t want TMO to pack (like your trash can full of trash). Here is a list of things not to have them pack:
    • Liquids
    • Opened foods
    • Perishable foods
    • Hazardous items like batteries or charcoal
    • Jewelry
    • Gold or precious metals
    • Loaded guns(no guns at all usually if going overseas)
  • You are entitled to possibly 3 types of TMO shipments depending on where you’re going. I have provided a list below of what I usually ship with each type:
  • Unaccompanied Baggage- This arrives to you sooner than the rest of your shipment, usually 2 weeks to a month before. This shipment is for those items you will need immediately to set up your home. If you take this shipment, know that it counts towards your overall weight allotment. Note that you don’t have to use this shipment and can just ship it all through your Household Goods. If you have overseas orders, I would highly suggest you take this option because it can take 3 months to get your regular shipment. It’s great to have at least some of your stuff in an unfamiliar location!
  • Household Goods- This is the shipment that would have the rest of your stuff that isn’t in your Unaccompanied Baggage. This can take a few days or a few months to get to you, depending on where you’re going.
  • Storage- Storage is usually reserved for those moving to an overseas location; you get to store items you don’t need at your new location, such as large appliances, your electrical items that are not dual rated, or your car. If you’re storing your car, you will have to clean it, like super clean it, like super duper ultra clean it (this also includes the undercarriage). There are companies that offer this service, but that usually runs about $100. If you have to drive a fair distance to the shipping yard, you may want to consider having it cleaned when you get to that location.
  • FMO is another entitlement you will get with an overseas assignment. This will supply you with large appliances like a washer and dryer, as well as furniture for your home. Depending on your assignment, you get to keep the lovely (it’s not lovely, it’s awful, but it’s not the floor) furniture for 90 days while you wait for your full shipment or even your entire tour.

Packing Lists

Luggage (Stuff You’re Taking With You)

  • Clothes (consider the seasons of where you’re going)
  • Deck of cards
  • Toys
  • Baby Stuff- Easily foldable strollers, bottles, binkys, car seat approved for air travel
  • Pet Stuff-airline approved pet crate, food, toys, portable water bowl, leash
  • Portable Hard drive- for movies and shows; you may not have internet for a while
  • Important Documents- Such as Social Security cards, Birth certificates, and tax information if traveling over tax season
  • Valuables- such as jewelry and precious metals
  • Medications

Unaccompanied Baggage

  • Basic cooking tools like pots, pans, dishes and serving utensils
  • Bedding, towels, pillows, possibly an air mattress.
  • Pack and play
  • Sturdier stroller if you have one
  • TV
  • Gaming Systems
  • Computer
  • Vacuum
  • Some more entertainment like books, Blu-ray/DVD’s, toys, and board games
  • Shower curtain(or buy one locally)

Household Goods

  • I’m not going to list anything here. Basically, have TMO pack what is not in the other 3 categories.  


  • Cars (if you’d like)
  • Appliances not rated as dual voltage or 50/60 Hz rate
  • Large appliances such as a washer, dryer or refrigerator
  • Furniture (if you’re going to a limited weight assignment)
  • Items you don’t think you’ll need at your next location (such a lined winter jacket in Spain, if you never plan on visiting a cold place, like Germany in December)
  • Guns (you could also store these with really good family or friends)

I hope this was helpful to you and best of luck with your move! This was probably a lot of information and maybe you have more questions. Please reach out so I can help either in the comments, email or message me via social media. For my more seasoned spouses…. do you have any TMO tips I didn’t mention here? Please leave a comment below!

Helpful Links

Move.mil Frequently Asked Questions: https://move.mil/faqs

How to file a Claim: https://move.mil/moving-guide/claims

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