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Insight, wisdom, lessons learned and everything in between to help you find the information you need for smoother transition between diplomatic assignments.

Two to Tango: Movers Tips for Pack Out

For years we have been hearing and sharing the painful tales of Foreign Service PCS moves with friends and colleagues. Every nightmare you can think of, we’ve heard it: shipments blanketed with mold, cars that were tossed about in crates during transit, shipments destroyed by a fire, moves that took days longer than you were told, or packers that showed up 6 hours late, you name it, it’s happened. But there are two sides to every story…

We asked some of the moving companies that we have worked with to support our foreign service clients to provide their top tips about PCS moves. While it may not always feel like it when we are wrapped up in the emotions of a pack out, the moving company wants you to have a good PCS experience. And for all of our griping, we play a role in setting up the packers to be successful in their jobs just as we expect them to show up ready to pack.

Moving boxes for an international move for diplomats.
Careful packing of household effects takes patience and organization.

Own Your Role In The Moving Process

Pre-Pack Out Tips from the Pros

  • Your survey is an important part of the moving process, give it the time and attention it deserves.

  • Keep a folder in your email for important documents like the survey when it gets emailed to you.

  • Sort and separate UAB (Unaccompanied Air Bags) and CNS (Consumables) from HHE/STG (Household Effects/Storage).

  • Have your pre-move survey and loading dock/elevator booked as soon as possible. If moving during peak season, date changes can be very tricky, and it is better to have your dates and reservations booked ahead of time. This allows the movers and those moving the opportunity to plan properly for the pack-out(s).

For example, we had a 500 lb UAB last summer that took 5 hours because the customer was just not ready -- still deciding on what is shipping or running all over the house to get it gathered up. This caused us to have to come back a 2nd day to finish the HHE. We got it done but in the end, we were left scrambling to get it completed with little disruption to the schedule for the next day which very well may be for one of their colleagues. This issue was relayed by our crews numerous times over the summer.
True Story from Moving Company

Pack Out Tips from the Pros

HHE placement in Department of State moving crates is important. Hiring professionals to organize your shipment helps.
Being organized ensures there is ample time to carefully pack your crates.
  • When our crews arrive, they start with the UAB, if this is not ready to go, it severely delays the crews.

  • Be available. If it's your move day, which is already a stressful time, don’t schedule appointments for that day. We cannot guarantee how long the move is going to take, it may be small but if you aren’t ready or there is a lot of packing or traffic, we may or may not be done in 2 hours.

  • Place all items that you would like packed together in separate groups or label these items. Example: AIR, HHE, storage. This is a big help when multiple moves are taking place during the same time.

  • In the event you are not able to separate or label, I suggest having an additional person who you trust who can help guide the moving crews.

Play an Active Role

One thing I really appreciate about these tips is that they are realistic. For the most part, many of us are already doing these, and for others, who better to get advice from than the moving company themselves. It's easy for us to forget that our actions or inactions have consequences too. After all, the movers are contracted to provide a full service pack out or delivery of our items. What we can prepare in advance will vary from move to move. Our bandwidth is going to be different each and every time, but that doesn't mean we can't remember these pieces of advice and do our best to set the packers up for success.

Movers packing a crate of consumables for a foreign service move.

When you are ready to prepare for your PCS and want to find out how you can get that additional person to help you at pack-out, or ways to get your shipments sorted for the coming move, book a Discovery Call to hear how we can make this happen with you.

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