Question: Which of the following items is not allowed on a moving truck?
(b) Ficus tree
(c) Shoebox full of cash
Trick question! All three of these are actually “allowed”. If you’ve ever heard things like “don’t put a lawn mower or plants on a moving truck”, it’s because it’s a bit more complex than that.
How complex, exactly? Well, there are three, basic categories of stuff you don’t want to put on your moving truck. We’ll go over each category to make sure all your stuff makes it to your new home safely (and legally).
Non-“survivables”: Items that can perish on the truck
These are basically food and plants.
Food items that won’t last long in the back of a moving truck include:
- Frozen foods
- Refrigerated foods
- Open or half-used foods
- Most kinds of produce
As for plants? They generally don’t do well either, particularly in extreme temps.
Aside from arriving at your new home with a bunch of spoiled food and dead house plants, transporting food and plants comes with the risk of attracting pests. Transporting plants in soil brings about the possibility of attracting bugs and critters.
If you are just moving cross-town, or possibly even if your new home is just a couple of hours away, your food and your plants might make the trip okay. Of course, if you can help it, why take a chance? Eat that ice cream before you lock the door to your old home. Besides, moving is hard. You deserve it!
Non-“allowables”: Items that can kill the truck
Transporting a gallon of ice cream is legal. Transporting a gallon of gasoline is not. And guess what? It is entirely safe and lawful to put that lawn mower on your moving truck, provided you drain all the oil and gasoline out of it first.
The list of prohibited items is long and filled with items that may surprise you.
- Paint and pool chemicals
- Pesticides and weed killers
- Aerosol cans
- Kitchen cleaners
- Nail polish remover
To be clear, some items may or may not be prohibited, depending on the moving company or the rental truck you are using. U-Haul says loading propane tanks onto their trucks is acceptable, but Budget does not allow them. Meanwhile, U-Pack’s list of prohibited items includes spear guns having charged heads. Ask for the rules and policies when you are renting your truck.
If you are moving with a major van line, check the company website for what is and isn’t allowed. Here is the United Van Lines list, which I find best reflects the industry standards.
Plants, Pistols and Alcohol
Crossing state lines with certain plants or guns can be illegal. Even if you are just driving through, every individual state’s laws apply. To protect yourself and to prevent anything from being confiscated, check out these state laws for plants and firearms.
Laws prohibiting the interstate transport of alcohol used to be plentiful. Nowadays, there are few if any restrictions on carrying alcohol across state lines provided it is for personal consumption. Still, it never hurts to double check with the states you’ll be entering.
Non-replaceables: Items that you don’t want to lose
These are items that are either irreplaceable or are such a pain in the butt to replace that putting them in a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist may not be out of the question. Keep a close eye and a constant hand on these things throughout your move.
- A shoebox full of cash (don’t label it “CASH”. Please.)
- Checkbooks, credit cards, ATM cards, insurance cards and policies
- Official documents: birth/marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, visas, residence cards
- Monetary and sentimental valuables
- Bank statements, financial records, mortgages, stocks/bonds
- Tax returns (maybe a good label for your shoebox full of cash)
- Medical/dental records and any medications/prescriptions
- Works of art (including, perhaps, those truly-irreplaceable kids drawings)
- Laptops, PCs and any profession-related documents and research papers
Sure, the list of non-survivable, non-allowable and non-replaceable items is long. But you’ve got a new home to look forward to! Take the steps necessary to ensure that you, your stuff and your truck all make it there safely.
And please, take that shoebox to the bank before you go!