Military Care Package Tips – What You Need to Know When Sending Packages Overseas

Not only is sending a care package a fun way to communicate with your military loved ones, but it also helps improve troop morale by providing useful items and a taste of home. But how do you ensure your care packages arrive successfully with all their contents intact? And without using all your savings? Sooner…
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

The Military Wallet has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. The Military Wallet and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on The Military Wallet are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear, but does not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations. The Military Wallet does not include all card companies or all available card offers.

Military Care Package

Not only is sending a care package a fun way to communicate with your military loved ones, but it also helps improve troop morale by providing useful items and a taste of home. But how do you ensure your care packages arrive successfully with all their contents intact? And without using all your savings?

Sooner or later, all military families become experts in sending care packages. Whether during your long-distance relationship or throughout multiple deployments overseas, you’ll end up spending lots of time at the post office.

During the first deployment of our marriage, I sent my husband many care packages. Most of them made it to his location overseas, but sometimes the box was completely squashed or the contents had leaked. I once tried to send birthday cake sealed in mason jars, but the cake was moldy by the time it arrived.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong with care packages, and the first few I sent were certainly full of mistakes.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of care package tips that I’m happy to share with you so you don’t waste some of the time and money I did.

Follow These Care Package Tips During Your Next Deployment

Get your shipping materials for free

First lesson: Don’t buy boxes for care packages. The U.S. Post Office provides them to military families for free!

Technically, you can use any leftover cardboard box for a care package. However, the boxes provided in the USPS free military care package kit let you take advantage of the lowest shipping rates (Priority Mail). You ship Priority Mail boxes at a flat rate that depends on size, rather than weight. The large size ships for around $20, so load it up!

To order the military care package kit, you can either call the USPS Package Supply Center at 1-800-610-8734 or purchase it through the USPS website.

You can find more details on free shipping materials here.

Plan ahead for delivery times

Delivery times vary throughout different deployments. Packages may be delivered as quickly as two weeks, but other times take closer to one month.

If you’re mailing something for a birthday, anniversary, or another holiday, be sure to send it well in advance. Because deployment mail is handled by the military, you won’t be able to track packages once they leave the USPS system, so don’t bother paying extra for tracking.

The post office releases a holiday shipping schedule for military bases overseas. Make sure you review it and send your package on time so your loved one can enjoy their gifts!

Have online purchases shipped directly

When ordering something online for your service member, don’t pay for shipping twice. There’s no need to have it mailed to your house just so you can repackage it and send it overseas.

Amazon and many other online companies now ship to FPO and APO addresses. Look for the option under “state,” then use AE or AP for “country.”

Ask friends and family to donate contents

I used to spend almost $100 per care package because my husband wanted it filled with tobacco products and beef jerky. Now I’ve learned that others are happy to donate items, supplies, or food.

Collect items whenever you visit home or when family visits you. Talk to local schools, churches, or non-profit organizations to see if they’ll sponsor the deployed unit. Many programs want to send items to troops. They just need an address for packages.

Include something for the single service members

Your spouse is lucky to receive a military care package, but not every deployed service member receives mail.

Ask your spouse if there are some single service members in the unit. Then include some cards or treats for them. If you need ideas, here are some items that are universally appreciated during deployment.

Buy in bulk

Since you’ll be mailing non-perishable items throughout the deployment, you can save money when you buy large quantities of your service member’s favorite snacks. Include a few packages or snacks in each box.

If you already have a membership to Sam’s Club, Costco, or BJ’s Wholesale Club, use it. If not, look for the case lot sales or bulk item aisle at your Commissary.

Make sure baked goods are properly sealed

Remember the moldy birthday cake I mentioned earlier? It happened because the mason jars didn’t seal properly when the cake cooked.

You can send cookies and cake to deployed troops, but since it will take several weeks, research the correct shipping methods first. There are good tips in this article here.

Don’t send restricted items

Don’t send liquids, flammable substances, batteries, or alcohol. If you include these items in your military care package, the entire package may be confiscated or destroyed.

Even if you don’t list a restricted item on the customs form, remember that boxes can still be opened and checked.

The Post Office has a full list of restricted items to avoid.

If you want to decorate, search Pinterest

Some people love to make their care packages fun by decorating the box. You can include a personal message, holiday decorations, funny pictures, or artwork.

Pinterest has thousands of ideas for fun and colorful decorations. Just remember not to include anything valuable in your decorations, since boxes will get thrown away.

The Bottom Line

With the holidays coming up, right now is the best time to start planning your special care packages. By following these tips, you’ll have a greater chance of success when sending your loved one a military care package from home. Better yet, you’ll save money along the way.

About Post Author

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Reader Interactions

Leave A Comment:


About the comments on this site:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertising Notice: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet; For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked and this compensation may affect how, where and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.