Moving to Alaska is a little different—but that’s probably one of the reasons why you’re excited to move to the Frontier State. Alaska’s rugged wilderness offers the perfect setting for outdoor adventures. It also can make moving to Alaska a little more challenging than a move within the lower 48.  So what are your options for moving to Alaska?

Some people are happy to simply fill a truck with their belongings and drive themselves to Alaska. However, whereas a relocation from California to Texas can be as straightforward as packing a moving van, many destinations in Alaska simply aren’t directly accessible by highway.  


So if you decide to send your possessions to Alaska, depending on your final destination, they’ll very likely travel by boat. In this case, you’ll encounter two common scenarios: 

  1. Shipping a full 20′ or 40′ container – also known in the moving industry as a full container load (FCL) 
  2. Shipping your goods in wooden crates called lift vans, which will be consolidated with other shipments on their way to Alaska – also known in the industry as a less-than-container load (LCL) 

In this article, we’ll walk you through both of these options so you can understand which is right for your move to Alaska.  

Full Container Load (FCL) Solutions for Moving to Alaska  

If you’re planning to move your entire household, you might be looking at shipping a full container to Alaska. 

We say “might” because moving thousands of households has taught us that every single one is different. That’s why we recommend starting every move with an in-person survey. It’s the most accurate way for any moving company to gauge exactly how many possessions you have—and guarantees you choose the best options for moving to Alaska. 

If a container is how you choose to go, you’ll have two main options: 

  • 20-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 20′) – In general, fits the contents of a 2-bedroom apartment*
  • 40-Foot Container (8′ x 8.5′ x 40′) – In general, fits the contents of a 3-bedroom house* 

It all depends, of course, on whether you’re a collector, a minimalist or somewhere in between! We’ve moved customers in 2-bedroom apartments who needed a 40′ container and others who fit the entire contents of their house into a 20′ container. 

You might not even need a full container. Maybe you simply don’t have a lot of possessions—or you’re just not planning on bringing them all with you to Alaska. If so, a less-than-container load solution may be right for you.  

Less-Than-Container Load (LCL) Solutions for Moving to Alaska   

When you don’t need a full container to yourself, your next option will be what’s called a consolidated shipment 

consolidated shipment (noun): When your moving company combines several smaller shipments all headed for the same location into a single container. Also called an LCL – less-than-container load. 

Consolidated shipments can be one of the most cost-effective ways to move your possessions to Alaska. In essence, you’re only paying for the space you need, instead of an entire container that you might not fill. 

In a consolidated solution, several different shipments get combined in a single container. This scenario often sparks one big question: 

“Will my personal possessions get mixed in with other people’s?” 

We have good news for you: No. This is where lift vans come in. 

Lift vans—also known as van packs—are standardized wooden shipping crates, used for moving both domestically and internationally.  

Lift van specs: 

  • External Dimensions: 87 in. x 45 in. x 87 in.
  • Internal Dimensions: Approximately 85 inches x 43 inches x 80 inches
  • Capacity: ~170 cubic feet of loading space and 1000-1500lbs+ by weight, depending on the size of your boxes and/or furniture

To give you a mental picture of the size of a lift van, imagine a standard doorway, which is usually around 80″. Your lift van will be just a few inches taller. Standard interior doors can measure anywhere from 24″ to 36″. Your lift van will be a little wider at 48″. Now walk about seven feet forward (about three steps for most people), and you’ll have a sense of how large your lift van would be. 

Fun Fact: A lift van can even hold a king-size mattress! Making it one of the best options for moving to Alaska.


Additionally, lift vans offer your items a high level of security and superior protection. They are generally packed and loaded directly at your home. At Royal Alaskan Movers, we inventory our customers’ items thoroughly to minimize the risk of any potential losses. Then, once everything is securely packed, wrapped and loaded, we seal the lift vans until they reach their final destinations.  

Ultimately, lift vans in a consolidated shipment will then be loaded into a container with other lift vans headed for Alaska. So, although your possessions would be sharing a container with other people, everything will be securely stowed away in individual lift vans. 

Receiving Items at Your New Home in Alaska 

Whether you choose a container or a lift van, how you receive your possessions will depend on the options you choose at the start of your move:  

  • For door-to-door, full-service moves, your container or lift van(s) will be brought to you. Everything that was packed at your old home will be unloaded at your new home. 
  • For DIY moves, it will depend on your particular moving company. For containers, you may be able to arrange for it to be brought to your new home for unloading. For lift vans, a likely scenario involves your moving company arranging to get your shipment set aside for you at the nearest port. From there, you can bring a truck to the warehouse and load your items into the truck, then drive them to your new home. Your moving company may also be able to arrange for the delivery of your lift van to your new home. Ask about your options—and their costs—when you get your quote.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Move to Alaska

When you relocate to Alaska, you’ll have some big decisions to make, including how much you want to take with you—and how you want to move it. Once you decide which of your possessions will make the cut, your next best step will be scheduling an in-person survey so an expert can come to your home and layout your options. Until someone actually looks through what you want to take, it’s very difficult to get a precise recommendation—and an accurate quote. 

We’d be happy to come out and do a complimentary, in-person survey to get you started. Our on-the-ground team in Alaska has helped customers with moving to Anchorage, moving to Fairbanks, moving to Juneau and moving to many other locations in Alaska—even the remote ones! Just get in touch with us to schedule a time that works for you, and we’ll walk you through all your options for moving to Alaska. 

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