December 13, 2013

UAB - Unaccompanied Baggage (Your OCONUS Move)

Now that the Hubs and I are unpacked…

Ok, we all know that's a lie. I'm not even close to fully unpacked! It's getting there though, slowly but surely. As you can see from all the Pinterest Tested posts, I'm deep cleaning and organizing as I unpack.

That takes time, people. Inexplicable amounts of time.

So today we're going to talk about UAB, or unaccompanied baggage. This is the shipment which comes prior to your HHG (household goods), if you're lucky. Sadly, both shipments have been known to arrive within days of each other, or somehow the UAB arrives after the HHG.

It's madness, I tell you, madness! 

However. If everything works as it should, then this UAB shipment is important to your move. It contains items you need to survive until the rest of your stuff gets there. Ideally, it will arrive long before your household goods.

Moving day!  

The weight allowance for your UAB shipment will vary based on rank, number of dependents, army regulations, etc. The VERY BEST thing you can do is ASK transportation what your allowances are, so you're well-informed. Once you have that information, you can decide what to pack in your UAB shipment.

Before I get to the packing list, I'd like to add a few more tips:

1. Separate your UAB in a different room if possible. This will make it much easier for your movers to pack and pick up the items. Also, this prevents any cross-contamination between your UAB and HHG. You don't want anything left behind in the wrong shipment.

2. Set up your UAB shipment as soon as possible. The faster you send it, the quicker you will receive it.

3. You are not required to utilize the UAB shipment. For our recent move, the Hubs and I decided against it. Why, you wonder? Our shipments would have arrived within days of each other, so the additional paperwork was just too much hassle for too short a time.

4. If you already have an APO address at your new duty station, you can mail some items to yourself. The Hubs and I did this instead of a UAB shipment. Note, however, that you pay those mailing fees yourself if you choose to do this. Hubs and I sent two large packing boxes, containing mostly lightweight items like linens, and it cost us around $60 for priority shipping.

5.  There are restrictions to your UAB. For example, you can't ship large furniture items. However, you could ship an air mattress. Find ways to work around those restrictions so you still have what you need, but are also within military regulations. Don't forget to ASK questions to discover what these restrictions are at the time of your move.

6. Check in with the lending closet at your new location before you decide what to carry in your UAB. Many items will be available for your use at the new duty station. For example, the Hubs and I had loaner furniture (including beds, sofa, chairs, table, dressers) and plenty of kitchen items (microwave, dishes, cups, silverware, skillets).

7. If packing any small appliances, be sure to check your voltage. You may need to purchase transformers/adapters in order to use them at your new duty station. Make note of any items that require this, so you can purchase the proper converters on arrival. Generally, you can find these right on post at your PX. Some people choose to purchase new items on arrival that already have the proper voltage. This is also an option, and one the Hubs and I chose for several items. Transformers are great, but they can also burn out your appliances faster than normal.

8. Make a list of what is packed in your UAB and carry it with you. I know this sounds silly, but it helps. Especially if you've moved your items early, you can forget what is packed and what's not. This will give you a quick reference after arrival, so you don't borrow/purchase items which are already in your UAB.

So, here is my list of suggested items. Remember, you may not need all these items. Or you may not need any at all, if you decide against a UAB shipment. Also, because I love ya, I'm including a PDF checklist at the end of this post, if you'd like a printed copy. If you're like me and don't pack anything, keep an eye out for future cooking posts, where the Hubs and I survived with a single cast iron skillet and a spatula!


Dish towels


Pots and Pans (small selection)
Cast Iron skillet
Dishes and mugs
Child-safe items (zippy cups, plates, bottles, etc)
Cooking Utensils (spatula, wooden spoons, etc)
Pyrex dishes/pans
Cookie sheets
Knives (for example, a chefs knife)
Manual can opener
Corkscrew for wine
Microwave, Coffee Pot, or other small appliances
Trashcan / Bags
Mop / Broom / Dustpan


Bath Mats
Shower Curtain / Hooks / Liner


Small TV
Video Game system / games / controllers
Desktop computer / printer / printer paper
A few books (especially for kids)
Favorite Toys
Bikes / Helmets
Outdoor game equipment (soccer balls, baseballs, etc)


Air mattress and pump
Laundry basket
Small ironing board / Iron
Vacuum cleaner
Folding Chairs
Pack n Play
Baby Gates
Booster Seats
Bouncy Seat
High Chair
Tool Kit (screwdriver, hammer, nails, tape measure, etc)
Extension cords


Extra vitamins, medications, etc.
Seasonal clothing
Extra coats and jackets
Extra shoes / boots
Rain gear
Formal clothing (in case of a ball, etc)
School supplies


Favorite toys
Unopened treats / bones
Food (unopened)
Extra medications

Military Gear: (Soldiers often need their gear before HHG arrive! Pack in luggage or ship with UAB if necessary)

Extra uniforms
Running shoes
Dress uniform / shoes
Field gear

I hope you find this list useful! Please, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below and I'll add to these items. If you'd like the handy, dandy printable checklist, get the PDF by clicking here.

That's all for now, folks. I'll be back soon with more tips for your OCONUS PCS move...

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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  1. Allie, you are such a great resource for military wives. where were you when I started out? ;)

  2. Will also have a loan closet available to borrow items you might need when you arrive. This is especially important if you were not authorized an unaccompanied baggage shipment.