what to pack in your unaccompanied baggage

best pcs announcement

As of Monday, our second of three pack outs is officially complete. I mentioned a while ago when I shared a look into the OCONUS moving process that there are three separate pack outs for overseas moves and, like many things in the military, these sorts of things are very much “hurry up and wait.” Well, it’s safe to say we’re very much in the thick of the “hurry up” part of things right now, and we’re prepping for our third and final pack out next week. One thing I was surprised about through this process, however, is the fact that there aren’t a lot of cut and dried resources sharing exactly what you should pack in different pack outs. So, I wanted to address the big ol’ elephant in the room regarding our OCONUS PCS – what to pack in your unaccompanied baggage. Curious? Read on…

What is Unaccompanied Baggage?

Simply put, your unaccompanied baggage (UB) is the pack out that contains those items you need first when you reach your OCONUS duty station. These are the items that will make or break those first days, and they’ll make the transition in your new host country just a little less chaotic and messy. Lists may vary from household to household, simply because we all have a different definition of what makes our new house a home first.

When doing a command sponsored tour overseas, service members and families are given a smaller weight allowance of total household goods to be combined into three pack outs: long term storage, unaccompanied baggage, and household goods. Unaccompanied baggage for a command sponsored tour is usually limited to a maximum of 2,000 lbs, but this may vary based on duty station. Ultimately though, unaccompanied baggage is considered your express shipment of household goods.

oconus long term storage

packing and pcs prep

What You Should Know About Unaccompanied Baggage

First and foremost, allow me to dispel a rumor for you. While it’s often called an “express shipment,” unaccompanied baggage is never guaranteed to make it there as fast as you want it. It’s not sent via express. In fact, it’s usually sent the same way your household goods are. Often times, however, lesser weights are shipped a bit faster, and we opted to send under 500 lbs (I think 300?) worth of goods. And heck, because it’s the military, sometimes they’ll arrive sooner, sometimes later, and sometimes right on time.

You can choose the order in which you schedule your pack outs. We chose to start with a long term storage, then unaccompanied baggage, and then household goods. Our logic was that we’d rather be on this end without our favorite things than on that end trying to adjust to all the things at once. Whether that pays off or not remains to be seen!

What to Pack in Your Unaccompanied Baggage

Remember, this list can be adapted to your individual needs, but this is pretty much we packed. We opted to keep our printer here for last-minute necessities, and we sent our Nespresso machine, too, but these were the things we hope will get there sooner than our household goods.

what to pack in your unaccompanied baggage

While this all sounds great in theory, like most things in the military, it remains to be seen whether any amount of forethought in terms of this pack out actually pays off, but we’re definitely crossing our fingers that it does! In the meantime, we’re using the things we’ll leave behind whilst here – an old basic coffee maker, our old slow cooker, old dishes – and it’s comfortable enough.

Tell me – what would you absolutely need in your unaccompanied baggage?