Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Funny You Should Ask: Questions Asked in Search Terms

I have written a couple of times (here and here) about the interesting search terms that have brought people to my blog. Sometimes people also get here by typing in questions. In case others were wondering the same things, I thought I would take some of those questions and provide answers. A lot of the questions were around similar topics, so today I’ll share questions and answers related to unaccompanied baggage, luggage, and household goods; driving, auto insurance and car shipment; and no fee and tourist passports. These questions are answered to the best of my knowledge and based on personal experience and/or research. They are not official answers from an official source.

Our household goods ready to be loaded.

Unaccompanied Baggage, Household Goods, and Luggage

What should I ship in unaccompanied baggage?
A few people asked this, and about 40 used fragments that weren’t quite questions referring to what to pack/put in unaccompanied baggage. You should be able to get a list of what you’re allowed to take from the transportation office. We were told that clothes, cooking utensils, a book-case, and a 26″ television are typical items. I don’t remember what all we took, but I know we included our smallest TV, a PS3, and clothes. We had not packed many cooking utensils, and that would have been a good idea. We also wanted to take an airbed, but it had gotten mixed in with the household goods, so I would recommend that if you have one in case you get housing before your household goods arrive since the loaner bed we got was super uncomfortable.

Are plastic totes air tight?
They’re not quite, but they do seal well enough. We had been told the totes we packed our unaccompanied baggage in would be wrapped in plastic at the warehouse and found out upon their arrival they had not been and several of them were cracked, so I would either wrap them yourself or make sure the lids are taped down well after the movers inventory them. They are a great option for moving things though since you can just stack them together and store them for next time.

Where is my unaccompanied baggage?
That one I can’t help you with, but I hope it comes in soon! Ours arrived about a month after we arrived in Germany and had been shipped out a few weeks before we left Georgia.

Does whole baggage really arrive before household goods?
If whole baggage refers to unaccompanied baggage, it did in our case. Ours was supposed to arrive by December 12th and arrived December 1st while the household goods arrived December 20th.

How much does furniture weigh?
That really depends on what kind of furniture you have and how much of it there is. When we were packing, I found this calculator (scroll down to How Much Will My Move Cost? and use the Estimated Weight calculator) that estimates the weight of a lot of typical household furniture. You plug in how many you have of each, and it gives you a total. Mine came up with 3000 lbs., which was probably an overestimate because our movers had said that it would be pushing it to think everything in the apartment even weighed 3000 lbs.

How long does it take until we get our furniture after overseas moving?
Furniture goes with your household goods. How long that takes to arrive will depend on when it was shipped out in relation to when you moved and where you moved to. Our household goods took about two months from the time they left our home in Georgia October 21st to the time they arrived at the new home in Germany on December 20th. We had arrived in Germany November 11th, got a housing offer about a week later, and got to move a few days after that, so we were only without our household goods about a month after the actual move.

Should I pack sheets in my luggage PCS to Germany?
Yes! The lending closet does NOT have sheets, so unless you want to have to buy some at the PX (which is also an option), I recommend packing sheets as well as blankets if you have room for them.

Driving, Auto Insurance, and Car Shipment

My car, taken in Florida.

Where can I buy a parkscheibe?
I actually didn’t have to buy a parkscheibe (park disk), as we had one given to us as part of a package during the culture class we took. I did a google search for “Wo Parkscheibe kaufen?” and found a few places. The cheapest I looked at was from ADAC. I also found one at the BX in the KMCC at Ramstein for a couple of dollars.

How sensitive are speed cameras in Germany?
Fortunately, knock on wood, I don’t know from personal experience. But I have heard that they’re pretty sensitive and will clock you for even a kilometer or two over. I have also heard that they take really good pictures, including of the driver so, unlike in America, you can’t even argue that you weren’t the one driving.

Can I keep my American car insurance in Germany?
Yes and no. You may be able to keep your car insurance company, but you can’t keep your American policy. Ask your car insurance company about international insurance coverage.

Does USAA insure autos overseas?
Yes. You can get international insurance coverage through USAA. I wrote about some of the details here.

Can I ship my car overseas with USAA?
I’m not sure what this question is meant to ask. If you want to know if the car will be insured during transit while you ship it overseas and you already have or want to get insurance from USAA, you’ll need to contact them to make sure, but we were able to ship it over and USAA covered it during transit without having to worry about additional shipping insurance. Since we have renter’s insurance with them, they also covered our household goods in transit. If you want to know if you can ship the car overseas if USAA is the lien holder on your car, again you’ll need to contact them, but I was told that they do not make it as complicated as it was with Chase when I had to contact them to get info I needed to get permission from Chase to do so.

Will USAA cover my vehicle during [a] typhoon?
Maybe. I didn’t see typhoons specifically mentioned on their page, but they do mention hurricanes and several other kinds of natural disasters here. Take a look and see what you may need coverage for as well as to learn tips on preparing for these natural disasters. When in doubt, it would probably be best to call the company directly to confirm what kind of coverage you have. In their FAQ USAA says that if you have a claim involving both your auto and property policy you only have to fill out one claim report.

Does Mazda have coverage in Europe?
It depends. If by coverage you mean insurance coverage, your Mazda would if you had international insurance (see above). If by coverage you mean warranty coverage, then it might if your car is still under warranty. I wrote about getting our Mazda fixed at a German dealership here. Because it was still under warranty, they checked with the stateside dealer and were allowed to work on the car. Best of all, I didn’t pay a dime because everything that needed to be fixed was covered under warranty or recalls.

Should I buy a car in Germany or ship mine?
That depends. If you’re moving with the military, as we did, they’ll pay to ship one car, so you may as well bring it. If you have a second car, then it depends on the car. If it’s old and you don’t find it worth the shipping fee, then maybe get one here. However, we left our second car behind and when we bought one here, the used car we bought ended up costing about as much as it would have cost to ship the car we’d left.


My no fee and tourist passports.

No-Fee and Tourist Passports

Where can I get a no fee passport?
That depends on why you need one. If you’re affiliated with the military, you’d go to your installation’s travel office. If you are affiliated with a federal government agency, the Peace Corps, the Department of State or are an other eligible no-fee passport applicant, check this page for info on where to go. I wrote about getting my no fee passport here and here.

Does a no fee passport look like a regular passport?
That depends. If you are the dependent of a U.S. military member, your no fee passport will look just like the tourist one on the outside. DoD civilians and their dependents get maroon ones. The picture to the right is from when I got my tourist passport, and I can’t tell you from the picture which is which.

What does “See page 27” mean inside a passport?
Inside your passport under endorsements, it might say to “See page 27” which would mean there is a limitation with your passport. With a no-fee passport for a military dependent, which is what I have, page 27 says: “THIS PASSPORT IS VALID ONLY FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE BEARER’S RESIDENCE ABROAD AS A DEPENDENT OF A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY OR NAVAL FORCES ON ACTIVE DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.”

Does my wife need a visa and her no fee passport?
The no fee passport should include a visa for the country that it’s being issued for. For example mine has one for Germany.

Can you travel with a no fee passport and no visa?
Since you can only use the no fee passport for official travel, you should check with the sponsor of your official travel regarding visas. For the military, that’s the installation travel office where the no fee passport was issued. I was traveling to Germany and my passport included that visa.

Can I get my no fee passport before [the] EFMP screening?
You should be able to apply for the passport before the EFMP screening. I did. However, to actually get the passport, you’ll have to do the EFMP screening because you have to have the orders (which requires the EFMP screening) to pick up the passport.

How long does a no fee passport take to get in October?
I’m not sure what factors into how long it takes to get a no fee passport, but I applied for mine on September 7th and got a call that it was ready to be picked up on October 3rd.

Can I use my no fee passport on a military flight to the US?
I imagine you could if that’s your country of origin and you’re only flying between there and the country you’re stationed in, especially if you’re PCSing back to the States. If you’re traveling for personal reasons, I would take a tourist passport also, especially if it’s not going to be a direct flight, but make sure you have the no fee with you as you’ll need it to get back into the country you’re stationed in.

Can I use my no fee passport to visit [my]  husband in Japan?
Do you have an official reason to be in Japan for which you would ordinarily use your no fee passport? If not, then no. Any time you are traveling for a personal reason, you’ll need your tourist passport. Now, if you’re the dependent of a military member or DoD civilian stationed in Japan, then you may be able to get a no fee passport if you’ll be living there with him for the purpose of traveling to that location and/or getting back into that location after you’ve been traveling elsewhere.

What does a tourist passport look like?
An American tourist passport looks like the ones pictured at the top of this section which has a tourist passport and a no fee passport for a military dependent showing that they both look the same. I wrote about getting a tourist passport while stationed in Germany here.

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2 Thoughts on “Funny You Should Ask: Questions Asked in Search Terms

  1. I can’t imagine packing up to move overseas…there’s so much involved! :O

    • Well technically the movers will do all the actual packing if you want them to, but it can still be stressful even with that. Personally, we try to do as much as possible because so far much of what we have left to them has not turned out so well. And there are a lot of other things that have to be taken care of. Originally I had planned to start this blog once we arrived overseas, but once I saw how complicated our moving process was and how much information we were missing that we could have used, I decided to start it early.

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