Military Deployment: What to Bring (and Not Bring) on a Deployment

You’re settled into your home and things are good – and then you get the word. You’re being deployed, and you need to work quickly to determine what to do with your belongings. That means figuring out what to bring, what to get rid of, and what to store.

If you have a family, then your large items will stay with them. However, if you live alone, you’ll need to think about storing furniture and other items, so they’ll be ready for you when you get back. Here are some tips to help you.

What Should You Bring on Deployment?

Let’s start with what to bring. You’ll have some resources from the military, but you may want to check out the website for some practical advice.

We recommend focusing on practicality, personal comfort, health, and entertainment. Here are some things to consider bringing:

  •  Practical items like travel packs of laundry detergent, a quick-drying mesh shower bag, an extra set of sheets, a comfortable pillow, a mattress topper, melatonin, and a sleep mask.
  •  Entertainment items such as a tablet with movies, TV shows, and books already downloaded onto it. (That’s important because wi-fi isn’t always reliable on deployment.)
  •  Personal comfort and preference items like bottles of hot sauce and other seasonings, favorite snacks from home, and so on. You’ll be able to get the basics at the commissary, but those basics can get boring after a few months of the same thing.
  •  Sentimental items like family photographs and mementos.

Having just a few things you like – plus some practical items to make your deployment more comfortable – can make it less difficult to be away from home.

What to Store When You’re on Deployment

Now, let’s talk about what to store when you’re on deployment. If you’re going to be gone for a while and you don’t have family who’ll be living on base while you’re away, then your best bet is to rent a storage unit to keep your belongings in good condition until you return home.

For a long deployment, look for climate-controlled storage facilities. When items are left in storage for a prolonged period, heat or humidity can cause damage. Paying a little extra for a storage unit with climate control will ensure that your belongings don’t get damaged during your deployment.

Storage facilities are a good place to store:

  •   Furniture
  •   Home décor and artwork
  •   Civilian clothing
  •   Books
  •   Personal items
  •   Electronics
  •   Vehicles

If you’re not sure how large a space you need to store your belongings while you’re deployed, you can use our handy sizing guide. Find it here.

For small, valuable items like jewelry, you may want to consider renting a safe deposit box at your local bank. That’s the best place for confidential documents, too.

To ensure that your storage bills are paid promptly, we recommend setting up automatic payments on a credit card. That way, you won’t need to worry about missing a payment if you’re busy or if your internet connection isn’t working.

You can find a list of packing tips here. They’ll help you prepare your items for storage.

What to Sell, Donate, Recycle, and Trash

Any items that you aren’t bringing or storing should be sorted according to what you want to do with them.

  •   Items that are in good condition can be sold at a garage sale or online on sites like Craig’s List or eBay.
  •   Items that are recyclable can be left out to be recycled or else brought to a recycling center. Keep in mind that certain items (like electronics and batteries) require special handling.
  •   Items in good condition that you don’t want to sell can be donated to local charities.
  •   Finally, items that can’t be sold, donated, or recycled can be trashed. You may want to look into hiring a trash removal company. Many such companies will automatically donate and recycle items too – very handy if you’ve got to empty your home quickly.

A quick way to sort through items is to place four boxes in the middle of each room. Label them Sell, Donate, Recycle, and Trash and sort items into them. When you’re done, you’ll have an easy time moving items because they’ll already be organized.


Preparing for a deployment can be stressful, but the tips we’ve outlined here can help you get ready and be sure that you have what you need when you depart.

To learn more about Storage West’s climate-controlled storage units – and our 10% discount for service members — please click here.

Posted in Self Storage Tips.