Don’t Pack These 10 Items During an Interstate Move

February 15, 2024

Perishable Goods  Perishable goods such as fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and prepared foods often do not travel well during an interstate move. The time spent in transit and inconsistencies in temperature and humidity levels can lead to spoilage. Food items that require refrigeration are the most concerning, as it ...

Perishable Goods 

Perishable goods such as fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and prepared foods often do not travel well during an interstate move. The time spent in transit and inconsistencies in temperature and humidity levels can lead to spoilage.

Food items that require refrigeration are the most concerning, as it is difficult to ensure consistent cold temperatures throughout the moving process. Dairy, eggs, fresh meats and seafood, leftovers, etc. have potential to develop bacterial growth and become unsafe to eat if they warm above 40°F for an extended period. 

Even hardy fruits and vegetables that do not require refrigeration can deteriorate quickly. Ethylene-producing fruits like apples, avocados, and tomatoes hasten ripening and rotting in other produce. Leafy greens wilt as they lose moisture. Processing produce by cutting or peeling accelerates spoilage as well.

For these reasons, it is best not to transport perishable foods during an interstate move. Either plan to consume these items before the move, donate them if possible, or be prepared to replace them at your new location. Non-perishable and shelf-stable items like canned goods, pasta, rice, oils, etc. can safely make the trip.

Flammable Items 

When moving across state lines, it’s important not to transport flammable or combustible liquids and gases. This includes items like:

Gasoline – Never transport gasoline in cans, portable tanks, or your vehicle’s main tank when moving. Not only is it dangerous, but it’s illegal in most states. Gasoline and its fumes can ignite easily and cause explosions.  

Propane tanks – Full or partially-full propane tanks contain flammable gas under pressure and pose serious risks. Make sure propane tanks are completely empty before transporting them. Or better yet, don’t bring them at all and get new tanks at your destination.

Paint, stains, varnish – Oil-based paints and stains contain flammable solvents that can catch fire or combust. Only bring latex/water-based paints, and make sure the lids are tightly sealed.

Cleaning fluids, solvents – Household cleaners often contain alcohols, acetones, and other flammable liquids. Don’t load them into a moving truck or trailer.  

The risks of transporting anything flammable or combustible far outweigh the benefits. It’s much safer to discard old paint cans, propane tanks, gasoline, etc. and buy new ones as needed at your new home. This also reduces the amount of hazardous waste you have to deal with during an interstate move.

Firearms and Ammunition 

Transporting firearms and ammunition across state lines can be tricky due to strict regulations. The general rule is that firearms must be unloaded and secured in a locked hard-sided container. Ammunition must also be properly packaged in boxes made specifically for that purpose. 

The key things to know when moving firearms:

Individuals need to check the laws in every state they will be traveling through, as regulations vary widely. Some states prohibit certain types of firearms altogether. 

Travelers should have a valid permit to carry if required by states along your route. Some states honor permits from others, while some do not.

Firearms should be declared when crossing state lines by stopping at weigh stations or checking with authorities. 

Travelers cannot transport loaded firearms in their vehicle. Firearms must be unloaded and secured before starting your trip.

Ammunition must be kept in sealed boxes and stored away from firearms during transport. Do not store ammo loosely in bags or containers.

Violating state firearms laws during a move can result in weapons being confiscated and criminal charges filed. It’s essential to do thorough research ahead of time and take all necessary precautions. With prudent planning and care, firearms can be transported safely when relocating.


Moving plants across state lines can be tricky. Many houseplants and outdoor plants that thrive in one climate may not do well when transported to a new environment. The stress of an interstate move may shock plants and cause damage or death.

Fragile plants should generally be left behind or gifted rather than transported. Succulents, cacti and hardy houseplants have the best chance of surviving a long move. Make sure to inspect all plants closely for signs of disease or pests before packing, as transporting diseased plants may be prohibited. 

When moving delicate plants, try to keep their environment stable. Water plants well before packing and transport in breathable boxes or containers. Keep plants away from extreme temperatures, out of direct sunlight, and pack with care to avoid damaging stems and leaves. Upon arrival, repot in fresh soil and allow time to recover in a gradual transition to their new climate. With extra preparation and care, some plants can make the move successfully. But a cross country trek is risky for many varieties.

Jewelry and Valuables

When moving long distances, it’s best to transport jewelry, collectibles, heirlooms, and other valuables separately from the rest of your belongings. These items are at high risk of theft or loss during an interstate move. 

Movers often recommend keeping irreplaceable items with you rather than trusting them to the moving truck. This reduces anxiety about their safety and security. You’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly where your most prized possessions are at all times.

Consider transporting jewelry yourself in a secure bag or case. This also allows you to properly insure them during the move. Many standard moving company insurance policies have low coverage limits for theft. But you can get extra coverage for valuables as a rider on your homeowners or renters policy.  

Another option is using a shipping company that specializes in transporting valuables. They offer more security, insurance, tracking, climate control, and white glove service. This usually comes at a higher cost than self-transport, but reduces risk.

The bottom line is that you should avoid putting your most valuable or irreplaceable items on a truck full of furniture and boxes. Take extra precautions so you won’t suffer a huge loss if anything happens during an interstate relocation.

Prohibited Items

Best Moving companies typically will not transport prohibited or illegal items across state lines. This is for legal liability reasons as well as general safety. Some examples of prohibited items include:

Recreational drugs like marijuana, even in states where it is legalized. Transporting cannabis across state lines remains a federal offense. Movers will not risk transporting it.

Hazardous materials classified as hazardous waste. This includes chemicals, batteries, paints, pesticides, and other toxic substances that require special handling under Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Most moving companies are not licensed to transport hazardous waste.

Weapons like grenades, bombs, and rocket launchers. Even if you have the proper licensing, moving companies will not transport explosives or other extremely dangerous weapons.

Certain animal products like ivory, pelts, skins, feathers, etc may be prohibited if they violate laws like the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Always check regulations.

Counterfeit or bootleg merchandise violates copyright and trademark laws. Pirated media, knockoff luxury goods, and illegal merchandise should never be transported by movers. 

Other illegal contraband like stolen property or smuggled goods. Moving companies are obligated to reject loads containing clearly illegal items.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult with your mover about any questionable items. Attempting to transport prohibited items could void your contract and prevent you from filing claims for losses or damages. It’s not worth the risks.

Heavy Exercise Equipment 

Moving heavy exercise equipment like treadmills, weight benches, and stair steppers can be very difficult and is not recommended for an interstate move. These large fitness machines are cumbersome to move, require proper disassembly and packaging, and are prone to damage during loading, transit, and unloading.

The best option is to sell your exercise equipment and buy new equipment once you get settled in your new home. Trying to move treadmills, elliptical machines, rowing machines and other large fitness gear cross-country introduces unnecessary risk. These machines have sensitive components and complex mechanisms that can break easily if handled roughly. 

Professional movers may refuse to move certain exercise equipment since it can exceed weight limits and dimensions for their truck or moving containers. Or movers may charge you exorbitant fees and extra costs to move exercise equipment. Either way, moving heavy bulky exercise gear long distances is impractical.

You’re better off selling your used exercise equipment and using the cash to purchase brand new machines once you get to your new destination. This avoids the costs and headaches associated with moving fitness gear, which often outweighs the value of the used equipment. Don’t risk your belongings getting damaged and incurring unexpected moving expenses. Leave the treadmills and weight benches behind.

Cleaning Supplies

Most cleaning supplies should be avoided when moving long distances. Products like bleach, ammonia, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, and other caustic chemicals pose a serious risk if they leak or spill during the moving process. 

Some cleaning agents give off dangerous fumes that can be harmful to movers, or make other items in the truck smell unpleasant. A leaking bottle of bleach could also ruin clothing, upholstery, or carpeting. The shifting and bumpy nature of a long distance move makes spills and leaks much more likely.

It’s best to use up supplies of dangerous cleaning products before the move. If some remain, properly seal or dispose of them. For any you must transport, make sure lids are tight and bottles secured upright in a plastic tub or tote during loading. Declare them to the movers so they can take extra precautions.

Consider restocking cleaning supplies once you arrive at your new home. This eliminates the risk of spills, and allows you to buy products preferred for cleaning your new home. It also prevents chemicals from sitting in storage if move-in is delayed. Leave the dangerous cleaning products behind and start fresh with safer supplies after your move.

Permits and Licenses 

Certain licenses, permits, and government documents may not transfer between states. For example, driver’s licenses must be obtained in your new state of residence. Vehicle registrations and license plates also need to be updated when moving between states. 

Other state-specific permits and licenses that require re-application in a new state include:

– Fishing and hunting licenses

– Concealed carry weapon permits  

– Professional licenses (teaching credentials, trade certifications, etc.)

– Business licenses and tax IDs

– Marriage licenses

– Vehicle inspections

– Building permits

The process for transferring these documents or applying for new ones will depend on the specific regulations in your origin and destination states. Be sure to research well in advance what will be required to avoid any compliance issues or lapses in legal permissions when moving. Maintaining valid credentials is crucial, so budget extra time and expenses to transfer permits and licenses.

Rental Equipment

Normally rental equipment like heavy machinery and moving vehicles should stay within their local service area. Rental agreements prohibit transporting certain equipment like cranes, lifts, backhoes, generators, scissor lifts, and boom lifts out of the area without permission. This is to limit liability for the rental company. 

Rented moving trucks also have mileage limits on how far they can go before incurring overage fees. Going out of state or across the country will lead to steep mileage fees. The rental company may even put a hold on your credit card for the value of the truck if they think you are violating the terms.

It’s best not to attempt moving rented equipment yourself. Return local rentals before your interstate move and find a national rental company that allows one-way moves. This avoids unauthorized moves and unexpected fees.