Military Life Spouse 101

Must Have PCS Essentials

Summer is finally in the air! Flowers blooming, birds gathering nest materials, and the sweet melodies of … moving trucks backing up. That’s right, PCS season is officially upon us-and you’ve got orders!

This time around, you’re organized. You’ve created the itinerary that balances sightseeing, visiting relatives along the way, and maybe an arrival early enough that you can settle in before everyone goes back to work. You’ve put together your critical paperwork: medical records, orders, birth certificates, legal documents like wills, and so on. You’ve stashed a cooler filled with snacks, your electronics are charged and you have extra batteries on hand. Your vehicle officially has more food and entertainment than a Carnival Cruise ship.  You’re set, right?

Well, maybe. Although you may have a strict schedule, your moving company may … not. You may arrive at your new duty station days (or weeks) ahead of your household goods. So here’s a list of suggested items that will help you survive in your (empty) new apartment or dream home, and we promise they will only take up a little bit of space in your ride!

Kitchen essentials: One pot and one pan, a small dish detergent, some paper or plastic plates and plastic silverware. If you’re stranded, at least you can cook and eat a homemade meal.

Light source: Pack a small lamp (even if you leave the lamp shades with the movers), a flashlight and a couple of light bulbs (no brighter than 60 watt). Your new place may not have ceiling lights, and even if it does there’s no guarantee the bulbs work. Your first night home doesn’t have to be a dark one!


Roll of toilet paper: This is especially important if you arrive at your new home late at night. After a long road trip, nobody wants to head to the local mini mart in search of supplies.

Engaging toys for children: puzzles, lightweight books, cards, and a smart phone-it’s likely you won’t have a television for the first few days; pack a few extra toys and books for the evening hours.

Seasonally appropriate clothing: Even if you are heading to a warm environment during the summer months, pack an extra sweatshirt and pair of shoes. Make sure you have clothing to wear around the house, and an outfit you’d feel comfortable wearing to a business casual dinner-just to be on the safe side.

Blankets, pillows, (and if you have room) an inflatable bed: These days, inflatable beds condense to remarkably small sizes. They’re a great investment for those first nights without furniture, and for the extra out-of-towners you’re hosting later on (like when your service member’s boot camp buddy comes into town). At the bare minimum, however, make sure you have packed enough pillows and blankets to be warm and cozy if you have to camp out for a couple of days.

Avoid: To save space, ask that your service member bring only the uniforms and boots he/she needs for check-in and normal work. The rest can be sent with the movers, making room for the “essentials” listed above.


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