Unaccompanied Baggage

May 9, 2016

Thursday afternoon Alex came home with the news we’d been waiting to hear. His orders were processed and we had official “hard copies.” Hooray! We could finally begin scheduling packers, setting up final outs, and start to form some semblance of a timeline.

We followed a registration process that allowed us to choose our hopeful packing dates. We picked the earliest dates possible, not really believing we’d get them but hoping it would show the office workers who looked at our papers that we were willing to move out sooner rather than later.

Much to our shock, we got the dates we wrote down.

Our first shipment was set for the following Monday, April the 11th. Time to get going. A few weeks prior, I had compiled a list on my computer of what I wanted included in what is called our Unaccompanied Baggage.

Unaccompanied baggage is a small (the weight dependent on rank and dependents) collection of your items that gets sent via airplane and tends to arrive at your new home within 4 to 6 weeks. The collection has to be small since it’s going on a plane, which means you can’t bring any of your furniture or anything bulky.

I had bookmarked a lot of helpful blogs from fellow military spouses that talked about the most helpful things to send with UB and things they’d wished they’d thought of. Those articles helped me out more than anything else I’d read/researched. The tips were invaluable, and I felt so much more prepared going into the move than I would have without them.

My list, which I pulled up and began revising over and over (and over) again, was broken into 2 major categories:

Kids and Kitchen.

We were allowed 1100 pounds, and that weight had to be made up of home goods that would get my family through a potential 3 months. The big shipment – Household Goods – is notoriously unreliable and can arrive at a family’s home anywhere from 1.5 months to 6 months later.

I needed to go as little time as possible without the kids’ toys, their high chairs, their clothes that wouldn’t fit in a suitcase. It would be a nightmare to move into a brand new home and then not have anything to set the baby in or no potty to help train the 3 year old.

In addition the baby essentials, I read over and over again how having your own kitchenware was imperative. The loaner dishes the military gives you pales in comparison to having your own colander, your own coffee pot, your own set of cutting knives. Having been in TLF for 4 days now, I think I would have lost my mind if I was stuck using the provided kitchen utensils throughout the summer.

When it was all said and done, my Unaccompanied Baggage looked like this:

Unaccompanied Baggage List

  • Small Tv
  •   Xbox
  • Camera Bag
  • Potty (big boy one)
  • Toys:
  • Exersaucer
  • Vtech Cars and Tracks
  • Books
  •  Puppy
  • Shape Sorter
  • Playdoh
  • Puzzles
  • Lawn Mower?
  • Highchairs
  •  Canned Dog Food
  • Buster’s Crate
  • Kitchenware:
  •  Skillet (new one)
  • Plates (4)
  • Cups (4)
  •  Landon’s Plates and Silverware
  • Silverware (4 of each)
  • Good quality pots (1 small, 1 medium, 1 lg)
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • 2 Spoons
  • 2 Steak Knives
  • Can Opener
  • Peeler
  • 4 Bowls
  • Colander (small)
  • Evie’s Food Dispensers
  • Evie’s Baby Spoons
  • Evie’s Bibs
  • Pot Holders
  • Kitchen Rag
  • Kitchen Towels (2)
  • 2 Coffee Cups
  • Coffee Pot
  • Measuring Cups
  • Twin Sheets (Star Wars one)
  • Queen Sheets (Red Ones)
  • Crib Sheets (Polka Dots)
  • 2 Blankets (Brown Master Bed One and Landon’s Quilt)
  • Towels (4: 2 Gray Ones/1 Purple/1 Teal)
  • Throw Covers (Blue Mickey One and Pink Minnie Mouse)
  • Extra Pillows
  • Extra Clothes (Jeans and extra Jackets)
  • Printer and paper?
  • Tools:
  • Scissors
  • Screwdrivers
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Military Gear
  • Cloth Diapers and Wipes
  • 2 Giraffe Print Bins (just leave the diapers in one of them)
  • Tupperware Containers
  • Unopened Box of Trash Bags?
  • Trash Can (from the bedroom)
  • Diaper Genie

It was impressive. I worked my butt off creating the list. The Saturday before, I spent the day washing the sheets, towels, and dish rags I was packing, as well as stripping Evie’s diapers so they could go, too.

Overall, the basic essentials I was aiming for were kitchen necessities, basic tools, sheets for the loaner beds, and a television with DVD player (ours being the Xbox). Alex and I also chose to send over our really nice camera not only to get it quicker, but because we thought it had less chance of getting damaged in the smaller load. Something else to consider when packing for U.B.

Sunday evening, we moved our kitchen table out of the breakfast nook and cleared the way so that I could have one designated spot for everything. It made the packers’ jobs a lot easier to be able to come in and have everything organized and piled together.

Alex sat at the computer and read my list out to me, striking through everything once it was moved.

The set up took close to an hour, and I kept looking at the pile wondering what else I should include and/or take out, but eventually I got it to where I wanted and had nothing left to do but take a step back and breathe.

A picture of everything my family believed we “couldn’t live without.”

Making the list and getting everything organized took a lot of front end work. I had to clean out the trash cans, box up the small tv, wipe down all the baby furniture, separate clothes, pack up our traveling suitcases to determine what clothes wouldn’t fit and needed to be shipped, gather up toy chests, and make the tough choice of what toys I thought the kids would want for the summer.

All that thinking and predicting the future provided me with a lot of activity and a lot of headaches, but in the end I’m so glad I forced myself to be organized.

The packers came right at 8a.m. and took a whole 45 minutes to wrap up my things and load them onto their truck.

So, how close to our 1,100 weight allowance did we get?

333 pounds.

And our travel time?

Our stuff arrived in Germany May 6th, just 2 days after we did. (3 weeks, 5 days overall.)

Because we don’t have a house yet, the military put it in a storage facility until August (at the latest). So as soon as we get a place, we’ll get our Unaccompanied Baggage. That’s pretty fantastic.

Despite not even having our things yet, I already know of a few things I’d do differently when we’re heading back to the states. First off, I’d remember to include the tv remote with the television. Found that little guy when the big packers were at the house and had to shove it in a suitcase.

Second, I’d send more. I should have really utilized that weight allowance with more clothes. (I’m pretty sick of wearing the same handful of clothes.) And more comfort items like picture frames, dishes, sealed dog food, and spices in closed containers.

The Unaccompanied Baggage process was a learning experience, one I’m glad I decided to do, and I am especially grateful I did my research and realized I was allowed to have done this.

Author: Alicia W.

Hello, I am a military spouse and mother of two. Together, my family has lived in three countries and traveled to dozens more. Combining my love of adventure with my passion for writing, I hope my website helps others create their own "awfully big adventures."

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