PCS season is in full-swing for the military community. And no matter how many times you have been through the process, there is always something to learn for next time! Our group of online contributors put their heads together and came up with a list of tips and tricks that might just help you sail through your next military move! (Contributors: Cyndia Rios-Myers, Alisha Youch, Shawna Robles, Tia Johnson, Olivia Smith, Stacy Huisman, Kate Dolack, Jennifer McDonald, Michelle Aikman, Wayne Perry, Tricia Ross, Bianca Strzalkowski)
35 Tips for Your Next PCS Move
1) Print copies of everything pertaining to the move that you need and keep them in a folder that will travel with you. PCS orders, moving forms, apartment leases, etc.
2) Make sure to talk with Travel and Finance well before you get official orders so you know exactly what you will need for the process and you will know what to expect.
3) Be sure to set aside some items for entertainment in your “Do Not Pack” area on packing/moving days – toys, craft supplies, a small TV with video games, a laptop or portable DVD player with movies, etc – to keep the kids occupied!
4) A Partial DITY is a great way to make sure you have basic essentials at your destination – air mattresses, basic cooking utensils and a few pots and pans, cleaning products, computers, a television – and it allows you to pack and move items that would otherwise have to be discarded, like plants, open food items, bottles of wine and liquor, etc. We rent a small U-haul and tow it behind us, assuring that we won’t be camping out in the backyard or spending money on a hotel room when we get to our new home.
5) Set aside some cash… you’ll need it!
6) Don’t forget to take advantage of Advance Travel Pay!
7) Take pictures of any items of great value or that are irreplaceable. If they are lost or damaged, the photos will be important in filing your claim.
8) Use this as a chance to get your kids to reduce their clutter! Help them go through their rooms and find items they would like to sell at a yard sale. Let them keep whatever money they make as extra travel money! Encourage them to donate whatever they do not sell to a charity. (In the event that they sell nothing, a parent can buy some of the toys for a “friend” and then donate to charity.)
9) Do research of the place you are going to beforehand if you can. If you don’t have a smartphone, print up directions (from your hotel) to important destinations (commissary, base, malls, Target, restaurants) before you transfer.
10) Movers/Packers are like plants. They do better when you remember to feed and water them!
11) PCS’ing is a great time to de-clutter and purge certain items from your home. The more you de-clutter, the less you will have to unpack when you arrive at your destination!
12) Before I move, I always look up sexual offenders in my new neighborhood. http://www.familywatchdog.us/
13) I pack clean sheets and pillows (with five dryer sheets) in my own box and mark it with color tape so I have clean fresh smelling sheets!!
14) I always create a little file folder, not just for my important medical information: shot records, military member medical records, any pet records, birth certificates, -any and all paperwork necessary if you find yourself in a bind or need to register quickly at the next station- etc. but leave a small space for RECEIPTS!-especially on a partial DITY. You’ll have less hassle getting money back and you’ll get it faster the more organized you are.
15) Put your all your silverware in a large ziplock baggie so it’s CLEAN when you unpack. Plus it’s all together and nothing gets lost.
16) Make sure your pet has all the paperwork they need and double check that they are confirmed on your flight!
17) If you want to get a job at your new base – get your resume and cover letter freshened up as soon as you know you are moving so you can start networking before you ever set foot there.
18) Empty your trash cans or your trash goes with you!
19) Save your sanity a go through your junk drawer. Nothing worse than opening a box to find all the stuff from your junk draw staring back at you screaming “find me a place to go”.
20) If you have kids, have a going away party. Take lots of pictures and create a collage that they can keep to remember their friends. Dress-up parties are great for younger kids. Going away parties are great way to give them a pivot point for the transition.
21) Also, mostly for partial DITY-check out where the weigh stations are located!
22) Make certain you pack enough clothes for varying types of weather because weather can change and it can take weeks to get your stuff!
23) Keep your sense of humor! It will get you through flying overseas with a potty-training toddler and a nursing baby, finding a half-eaten moldy lunch on unpacking an especially rank-smelling box (turns out it wasn’t yours, but the mover’s), and waving goodbye to your husband as he heads TDY while you’re still in TLF.
24) Have a 1st Day box (thank you LINKS)- think of all of the things you will need the first day in a potentially empty house; toilet paper, shower curtain, TV remote, phone…
25) Pack grilling utensils if you are like me and plan on making the first purchase of the new home a grill.
26) Make sure you check the dishwasher before the packers arrive.
27) If you can, take a single house phone including charger with you.
28) Research new and interesting things to do in the new town with the kids and have them make a list of all the new things they want to see or experience. This gives them something to look forward to and can help in the transition.
29) Don’t let your PCS move de-rail your health and fitness goals. Plan snacks and meals for travel that are better alternatives than fast-food and find ways to fit family exercise into your move. Take advantage of the pools at the hotel, take the dogs for much needed walks after long periods of time in the car, etc.
30) Invest in a small fire safe to hold all important paperwork, birth certificates, SS cards, etc. Put all of your family photos and videos on an external hard drive that also lives in this safe. Gathering all of this for the next PCS move will be a breeze, as you just add to it and back up new pics/videos to the hard drive.
31) Purchase different color electrical tape (and Sharpie markers) and use it to label all the cables that go to various electronics – TV, satellite box, video games, laptops, etc. and also label the plugs into which they go – it makes reassembly MUCH easier and faster!
32) When movers are taking apart furniture, have them give you all the bolts, screws and pieces. Then, put those in a Ziploc baggie, label with a sharpie and take them with YOU!
33) Too many CDs or DVDs to make a written inventory? Stack them neatly and use the video camera on your smart phone to take a video inventory of them for your records. Priceless in the event of loss or theft!
34) Give the kids a box of markers and let them decorate boxes that have their stuff in them. This way, they will recognize them quickly when they arrive at the next destination!
35) We always use a cash back website and hotel chains or booking websites with a reward program when traveling during a PCS. When you get to your destination you will have earned some cash back and points towards a future vacation!