You’ve got several options when it comes to moving your personal possessions to or from Hawaii. Shipping a container is one of them—but it’s not a one-size-fits all solution. If you’re considering packing a 20′ or 40′ container for your Hawaii move, we’ll run you through the pros and cons so you can make the right choice for your relocation. 

Your 3 Options for Hawaii Moves 

If there’s one theme throughout the tens of thousands of moves we’ve completed, it’s this: Every move is unique.  

You have your own reasons for moving to your new destination. You have your own vision for your move, and you also have your own goals to meet. Maybe you can’t imagine feeling settled if you don’t move all of your current possessions to your new home. Or maybe you have a few key pieces that you can’t bear to be without. Alternatively, maybe you’re looking for a fresh start in your new home with mostly brand-new possessions. 

When you’re moving between Hawaii and the mainland, you’ll have three main options for your move: 

  1. A dedicated 20′ or 40′ container all your own 
  2. less-than-container (LCL) solution in which your belongings get packed in wooden crates called lift vans, then loaded into a container with other goods headed to the same destination 
  3. DIY solution in which you ship a few boxes and bring the rest in suitcases when you fly to your destination 

In this article, we’ll break down your first option—a dedicated container move. We’ll walk you through all of the pros and cons so you can decide if packing and shipping a container is the right move for you. 

Explore Your Options 

If you’re considering alternatives to a full container, we have a few additional resources for you: 

Pro: You’ll Have Plenty of Room for Your Belongings 

For many people making the move to or from Hawaii, a container is the default choice for one simple reason: They have a lot of possessions they want to take with them. 

That’s the main pro to choosing a container for your move. Containers offer you maximum space, and you won’t have to share it with anyone else.  

Of course, a 40′ container offers about double the space of a 20′ container. Which one you select will depend on how much you want to take with you. A complimentary consultation with a moving company can help you make the call. 

However, to give you an idea of exactly how much room you’ll have in each, check out the following guidelines: 

graphic image of two containers sized 20 and 40 feet

This ballpark varies, depending on how many possessions you have! Consider this a broad guideline to assist in your planning. 

Here’s the bottom line: A dedicated container offers you maximum flexibility in terms of what you want to take with you. For example, if you invested in some gorgeous koa wood furniture while you lived in Hawaii, you can easily use your container to bring it with you to the mainland. The same goes for any irreplaceable belongings you want to move to Hawaii.  

(Just keep in mind there are a few specialty items that you can’t ship in your container!) 

Con: A Container Will Be Your Most Expensive Option 

However, with that flexibility comes some cost. Shipping a dedicated container is your most expensive option for a Hawaii move, which is the biggest downside.  

If cost is a consideration for you, you might decide to: 

  • Try a less-than-container-load (LCL) solution and pack a few lift vans instead 
  • Sell everything at your current home, then use the proceeds to start fresh at your new home. (This can be cheaper than shipping a container!) 

However, if you have a strong personal connection to your current possessions, these two alternatives might not feel quite right to you. 

Read more

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Container to or from Hawaii? 

We’ll walk you through the three major factors that impact the cost of a container—and give you some ballparks to help in your planning. 

Read more

And if you’re very particular about your possessions, a dedicated container might be the way to go. Let’s discuss why. 

Pro: Your Items Won’t Mix with Other People’s 

Some people are absolutely fastidious about their belongings. (We get it, we really do!) In other words, they don’t want their personal possessions mixing or touching with anyone else’s.  

When you choose a dedicated container for your Hawaii move, you’ll have that container all to yourself. No one else’s items will be loaded in with yours. This offers some customers significant peace of mind. 

That said, choosing an LCL solution doesn’t mean your items will touch anyone else’s. When you ship a less than container load, your items will be loaded into wooden crates before they’re put into the shared container. (As will everyone else’s!) In other words, everyone’s items will stay separated in individual crates.  

However, some people still don't like the idea that their items will be in a container with other people's. As a result, they opt for a dedicated container all their own.  


At the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal preference—and what makes you feel most comfortable. 

Con: You'll Need to Trust All Your Possessions to One Company 

Even though a dedicated container means that your possessions won't be traveling with anyone else's, you will need to give control of all of your possessions to another party. This can make some people nervous. However, if you plan on moving any significant amount of stuff to or from Hawaii, it's going to happen at some point or another. 

That's why it's so important to do your research before selecting a moving company. Get three, independent quotes, and evaluate each one carefully.  

As you get to know each of your companies, you'll discover that each has its own advantages—and its own menu of services. There's one in particular you'll want to ask about if you're considering using a container for your Hawaii move. 

Pro: A Full-Service Move Can Save You a Lot of Time 

When you're quoting out your container move to Hawaii, you'll have the option to 1) pack it yourself or to 2) choose what's called a "full-service move." (You may also hear it called a door-to-door move.)  

When you select a full-service move, a crew of professionals will handle all the packing and moving for you. The team will arrive at your house with all the packing materials they need. Then, they'll pack all of your personal possessions, and load them into the container for you. They'll also unpack everything they packed on the other end, and even take away all of the packing material once they're finished. 

If you're pressed for time—or you simply don't want to deal with the hassle of a big move—a full-service move can save you a ton of time and hassle. This is especially true if you have a full container of belongings. That's a lot of heavy lifting to do on your own! Plus, you'll also benefit from the crew's expertise in packing your individual items and loading your container so everything makes the long journey safely. 

Con: Your Container Will Take Several Weeks to Arrive 

Whether you decide on a dedicated container or a less-than-container-load solution for your Hawaii move, your items will need to travel by boat. When you take into account lead time, loading time, sailing schedules, transit between ports, unloading time, and delivery scheduling, your possessions will be in transit anywhere from four to ten weeks. During especially busy times—such as the summer months—or between particularly far-flung places, it can be longer.  

In other words, you'll be looking at being without the majority of your possessions for quite a while.  

A few factors that can mean quicker delivery: 

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