15 Items to Carry Personally for an International Move

15 Items to Carry Personally for an International Move

Jan 29, 2024

Packing for an international move? In an international move, your belongings ship through a shipping container, which is an entirely different ball game when compared to a local one. Unlike the swift truck or van transfers in local moves, international relocations involve shipping containers and extended transit times. While a local move may take a week, it could be months before your belongings reach the destination in an international move, traveling via sea or air.

With such differences, keep it cool and take note: certain personal items aren’t cut out for the shipping container journey. Skip tossing in things like:

Essential Items for an International Move You Must Carry Personally

1. Important documents

Though highly unlikely, it’s still a reminder not to ship your personal documents in the shipping container when moving overseas. From birth certificates and mark sheets to marriage certificates, IDs, passports, and insurance documents – keep these crucial papers close, preferably in a secure and accessible spot.

2. Flammable substances

Flammable substances should be avoided in the shipping container. Hazardous materials, like matchsticks, lighters, batteries, nail polish remover, alcohol, and motor oil, can contribute to the spread of the fire and should be carried in personal luggage.

Even when carrying with you on a flight, some of these items, like batteries and lighters, do not go into the check-in luggage. Batteries and chargers can be kept in your cabin baggage, whereas other highly flammable substances are not even allowed in the hand baggage and should ideally be left behind.

3. Perishables items

Perishable items like canned food, frozen food, food in general (raw or cooked), and plants should not go into the shipping container. Some shipping containers do not have temperature control, and perishable goods can go stale under ordinary shipping container conditions. Plants definitely won’t survive living in such conditions.

If you must bring them along in urgent situations, seal them tight and declare their presence to the authorities. Remember that this might lead to additional customs duties, but safety takes precedence.

4. Jewelry and other valuables

Refrain from keeping essential items for an international move, like jewelry (gold, silver, diamond, platinum), expensive watches, heirlooms, and antiques in the shipping container. They are safe and sound when kept in your personal luggage.

5. Keys and electronics

Here is another interesting international packing tip! Exclude house keys, vehicle keys, and small electronics such as button batteries, calculators, cameras, smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., from your moving package. Such small items can be easily displaced and should be kept safely in your personal luggage. Moreover, you will have better peace of mind when such items are at arm’s length.

Cleaning service. Bucket with sponges, chemicals bottles and mopping stick. Rubber gloves and towel. Household equipment.

6. Liquid products

Liquids should also be avoided in the shipping container. This includes cooking oil, toiletries, and grooming products that can spill and ruin other items.

While liquid items are fine for a local move with proper packing, international moves need a different playbook. Plan ahead and resist the urge to stock up on these items early to prevent leaving them behind. The bumpy, twisty journey of shipping containers over long hauls makes spills and damage more likely.

7. Arms and ammunition

Other quite obvious items that should not go in your shipping container are drugs, arms, ammunition, fireworks, and other illegal things.

It’s also advisable to see the list of prohibited items you cannot export from the USA and import within the country you are moving to. Your shipment may hit a roadblock at the port for further inspection if any illegal items are suspected.

Framed family photos on white wooden table indoors. Space for text

8. Cash and financial documents

Do not keep your wallet full of cash or cards in the boxes meant to be shipped. Keep all your cash and cards with you at all times.

Similarly, avoid keeping financial documents (old or new) in the shipping container. This would include your bank statements, checkbooks, passbooks, wills, and other related documents. In short, there should be no paperwork in the shipment container except for your kid’s stationery items.

9. Other temperature-sensitive items

Items that can melt, leak, and spill due to a temperature rise should also be avoided in shipping containers. You can keep such sensitive items in your luggage, as your journey would be a lot shorter, and there would be fewer chances of getting affected by the temperature change.

10. Living things

While some airlines may allow pets to be carried in cargo, this is prohibited for shipping containers. This is because shipping containers are dark with no air vents and are not designed to keep living things like pets, animals, and plants.

If you have a pet, research the pet-friendly airlines that allow you to carry your pet on the airplane. Yes, some airlines allow you to travel along with your pet if the pet weighs within the allowed threshold.

11. Prescription medicines

There is no sense in keeping your prescription medicines in the shipping container. For one, you can need them anytime. Two, temperatures in shipping containers are not medicine-friendly.

Therefore, carry your prescription medicines in your personal luggage, preferably in cabin baggage.

12. Fragile art pieces and collectibles

You can keep fragile art pieces and collectibles in shipping containers at your own risk. However, such valuable pieces should be avoided as shipping containers are more vulnerable to careless handling that can damage your delicate collections, like glass photo frames, showpieces, antique wall clocks, paintings, and more.

13. Items not covered under insurance

As a matter of fact, do not include any precious or sentimental items in the shipment container that are not covered by the insurance. Shipping companies do provide moving insurance for heavy items like furniture and electronic appliances, but they may not cover large artworks, large TV screens, and related items.

Talk to your shipping company before packing and loading such items into the container.

Guitar on hard case

14. Musical instruments

If you own musical instruments, relocating them internationally can be an issue. Most shipping companies deny loading musical instruments in the shipping container for various reasons, like temperature issues and the possibility of damage.

Musical instruments include delicate parts that can wear and tear easily due to moving containers. Anyway, talk to your shipping company for more about safely transporting your musical instrument overseas.

15. Other small valuables

Small items of any kind should be excluded from the shipping container and not packed in the first place. Shipping containers and packing boxes are big and not tightly sealed enough to stop small items from falling through.

Therefore, they should not be placed directly in the packing boxes. Instead, you can pack them in a separate big plastic box (only if they are not too valuable) and then place them in the packing box to prevent them from falling between the cracks.

Pack Smart

These international move essentials are better off in your personal luggage than the shipping container. From crucial documents to flammable items and liquids, keeping them close ensures a smoother and safer journey. For any assistance related to your international move and to have a smooth relocation, contact Atlas Allied today.

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