When it comes to military moves, generally you have the option of a full household goods (HHG) move, a do-it-yourself (DITY) move – or a combination thereof, with a partial-DITY.
However, staffing shortages with moving companies and short, last-minute orders are pushing more families to reconsider doing a full DITY move, particularly if relocation schedules are tight and movers are booked out for several weeks.
Not to fret – but before you hitch that trailer, here are a few tried and true tips to keep in mind for your DITY move.
1: Where to Start
To begin the process, you’ll need to have your DITY, or Personally Procured Move (PPM) approved by your local transportation office. The official DoD Customer Moving Portal, Move.mil has an excellent online tutorial to help you create your PPM file, and get started.
2: Ensure You Get Certified Weight Tickets, (Empty and Full)
For a DITY move, no document is more important than your Certified Weight Tickets. You will need one ticket of your vehicles (and/or moving trucks and trailers), weighed empty (called Tare), and one ticket for your Gross, or loaded weight. The government will not pay claims without these certified tickets. Once you arrive to your gaining station, you’ll need to submit these weight tickets as part of your claim within 45 days of completing the move.
3: Remember, Upfront Costs Will Be On You – Unless You Get An Advance Allowance Approved
For a DITY move, you’re responsible for all expenses upfront – and it can add up quickly. The cost of a rental truck, or trailer, deposits, moving supplies, gas and tolls, and fees for weight tickets will be on you to pay upfront.
It is possible to request an Advanced Operating Allowance when you apply at your installation’s transportation office, but getting an allowance does take time to get an approval, and may not be guaranteed.
4: Check Your Insurance
The government is not liable for any loss, or damages that occur during a DITY move. Additionally, as you are the one packing and transporting your items – any damage will be presumed to be due to your errors, or improper handling and packing.
Although many rental companies will have the option of providing additional insurance, this insurance is meant to cover their vehicles, or trailers – not yours.
It is worth a call to your insurance carrier to determine if your household goods will be covered during the move, particularly if a burglary occurs. You may need to buy an additional policy, or extend coverage on existing policies.
5: Keeping Documents and Receipts is Key
The military will reimburse you for your expenses related to moving – but in order to do so, you must have receipts and records. Get a sealed folder or envelope – to ensure no receipts are lost, and treat this folder as you would your key documents, such as vital records, marriage license, social security cards, and passports.
PRO TIP: Do not leave your documents folder overnight in either your car or the moving truck. In the worst case scenario of a burglary, or outright auto theft, if your receipts are stolen – it will become very difficult to fully recover your DITY costs.
6: Know Your Vehicle Towing Capacity and Weight Limits
Did you know your vehicle has a towing capacity and has been rated for a maximum cargo weight? Packing your car isn’t as simple as ‘if it fits – it ships’, you do need to ensure what you pack is within the loading capacity of the vehicle.
Located on the interior of the vehicle’s driver side door, will be a manufacturer’s label that outlines the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This rating represents the maximum weight of the vehicle and what it can carry, when fully loaded. (This information can also be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual, as well as towing capacities).
Towing, or hauling more weight than your vehicle is rated for is extremely dangerous, as your ability to control and maneuver the vehicle are impacted, as well as the structural integrity of the frame.
7: Plan Your Driving Routes, and Lodging Stops
If you’ve never had the pleasure of pulling a U-Haul trailer through Dallas rush hour traffic, trust me – you are most definitely not missing out! While it may not be possible to avoid driving through large cities altogether, taking the time to plan your driving route will eliminate some stress. Planning your route will also give you a better gauge into planning your lodging stops. It is highly recommended to book all of your lodging reservations in advance, and confirm the reservations before travel.
PRO TIP: Consider booking space-available lodging at military installation TLFs that are along your travel route. You’ll have the added benefit of having your moving truck, or travel trailers inside the gates of a military base – virtually eliminating the risk of a burglarized vehicle, while you get some much-needed rest.
A DITY move definitely requires more work on your end. However, the upside is that the move happens on your schedule, you are the one who handles and packs all of your belongings, and there is no delivery delay of your household goods at your gaining station. There’s also a good chance you’ll probably make a little extra cash as the government does offer an incentive if you spend less than what it would have taken the government to contract the move.
Don’t let a DITY move overwhelm you. Thousands of military families around the country successfully complete DITY moves each year. You’ll just need a little more planning and work on the front end – and before you know it, you’ll be back in a sea of cardboard at your new home, in no time.