Dec 17, 2021 by Wendy Hoke

What Should You Take in Your Car Rather Than Putting on the Truck?

Certain things should go with you in your car rather than with your movers. These include your first night box, valuables, flammables, and more. 

You can only fit so many things in your car, which is why you hired a moving company or rented a truck. But you’ll still have some room in your car to take some of your personal effects with you, which leaves the question: how do you decide which items go with you and which go in the truck? 

The “Open-First Box” 

The “open-first box” is a box with all the stuff you’ll need on your first night in your new place: sheets, lightbulbs, toiletries, maybe a few dishes, and silverware. This box should go in the car with you so you know exactly where it is and can easily access it when you get to your new place. It also ensures you have the essentials in case anything happens to the truck on the way over. 

Anything Requiring Special Attention  

Plants, pets, and frozen/refrigerated foods generally require special handling and most moving companies will refuse to take them, so plan on keeping them with you.  


Things have a way of getting lost in a move, especially high-value items. Jewelry, precious metals, heirlooms, antiques, priceless collectibles, and anything else that might tempt your movers should stay with you. The same goes for things that have sentimental value, even if they’re not the most expensive things getting moved. 


Check your contract with your mover to see what they can and cannot move for you. In most places, moving alcohol requires a special license that your mover may not have, in which case any alcohol you’re taking with you will need to go in the car. 

Just be sure to check your local ordinances about alcohol and cars. Open containers of alcohol (meaning anything that isn’t sealed shut) are usually not allowed in cars unless they’re in the trunk. Unopened bottles can go in the back seat, but if you’re taking previously opened bottles of anything (such as hard liquor) put it in the trunk. 

Flammable Items 

Movers will generally refuse to take anything that’s flammable, combustible, or explosive. In many cases, it’s illegal for these things to go into a moving truck, so you’ll need to take them in the car with you. While this might sound obvious, it includes many items that might not be so obvious, including guns and ammunition; charcoal, lighter fluid; any kind of oil or gas; anything that comes in an aerosol can; cleaning fluids containing bleach or ammonia; fertilizer; nail polish remover; paint cans; pesticides and poisons. 

And before you think about trying to sneak them onto the truck without telling your movers, consider the fact that doing so could result in jail time and a hefty fine. 

Check Your Contract 

Your movers’ contract will tell you what things they will and will not move for you. It should cover local laws regulating things they are and are not allowed to move, but they may also have their own restrictions that are simply a result of their own policies. Check their list before you start putting things in boxes so you know which boxes to keep with you and which ones can go in the truck.

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