From moving everything you own cross-country to relocating a growing home office to its own building, there are dozens of situations that leave you responsible for packing a rented vehicle. But whether you’re moving or just taking a trip, there are some items you should never pack into a rented vehicle.
Shipping restrictions, laws on interstate travel, rental company preferences, and more all make these five items important to leave behind or to ship through an alternate method.
First, anything that could start a fire or explode while carried in an enclosed space like a truck or van has no place being transported in it. This is reflected in the Federal Motor Carrier laws and in every state’s transport laws.
While you may already know to give your can of spare gasoline to your neighbor or leave the paint thinner behind, there are many everyday materials you may not think of as flammable and explosive. For example, even a bottle of nail polish prevents a serious risk. Fertilizer for your garden, motor oil for your car, or a box of kitchen matches all fall under the list of prohibited items to keep off of a rented vehicle.
Firearms are tricky to transport. Within state borders, they’re generally legal to transport in your own car or a rental truck as long as they’re secured and unloaded. Interstate transport is very complex, with many states requiring gun owners to either carry their firearms in a personal vehicle or ship them. Many movers ban the transport of firearms to avoid having to verify you’re following any of a number of different requirements during your trip.
Ammo has another set of rules entirely, but it’s always illegal to transport in a moving truck or van because it falls under the ban on flammable and explosive items. So do black powder and some gun-cleaning chemicals.
Aside from things that can explode or start fires, there are a handful of other unusual hazardous materials banned under the Federal Motor Carrier rules. Few people transport radioactive materials in a moving van today, but it’s surprisingly easy to break this rule if you’re transporting some small business equipment, medical equipment, or even a household smoke alarm.
Anything generally poisonous or toxic is included in a blanket ban under federal law. Even infectious materials are prohibited from being transported in a moving truck. Luckily, unless you’re operating a lab, this is unlikely to affect your transportation plans.
Spoilage is a real problem if you’re renting a non-refrigerated vehicle. The contents of your refrigerator shouldn’t be packed into a rented vehicle, even in they’re in a cooler with plenty of ice. Canned goods are fine, but watch out for glass and other breakable items. A broken drinking glass is easier to clean up than a jelly jar that leaks sugar all over the vehicle.
This rule includes any living things as well, from pets to plants. Even when you’re the one driving the van or truck, you can only carry other living things along with you in the cab, and only if it’s heated and air conditioned. Animals should be secured in a crate or carrier as well to keep them calm during the trip.
Finally, irreplaceable and essential documents don’t belong on a rented vehicle. It’s just not possible to provide enough security to completely prevent the threat of identity theft or general loss. If you have more documents than you can carry personally or you’re transporting very sensitive information, hire a secure courier service to handle the task for you.
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