Summer PCS season is right around the corner and it is not too early to start to plan even before you receive those ever-elusive orders. I’ve always been super disorganized and looked with awe at my fellow military spouses with their PCS binders and elaborate coding systems for moving boxes. I even know one friend who tapes down the dimensions of a U-Haul truck on her floor and begins packing in plastic crates and loads them in her fake U-Haul until she packs the real one a few days before the move. It is really a genius system if you can be that organized. Here are a few tips for the less organized to help keep your sanity.
- Once you know your next duty station see what your options are for housing on post. If the waiting list is long you will need to consider other options. Rentals which will open for the summer are usually listed after the start of the year. The best ones will go fast. I personally do not like to rent sight unseen. What we typically do as a family is at Spring Break if it is close enough to drive to (about an eight-hour drive) we will go check out the new duty station as a family. If you must fly, my husband will spend spring break with the kids, and I will fly to the new location to check out schools and rental options.
- Important Documents. We don’t use a binder, we keep everything in a fire box and that includes birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, car titles, and passports. You should know where everything is but for the less organized find them and pick a way to keep track of them. I like a firebox because it is difficult to lose.
- Start the PCS Purge. It is not too early to think about what you can get rid of. We have never gone over our weight limit by doing this. Consider getting rid of stuff in those boxes you have shipped every PCS move and never unpacked. Get rid of outgrown clothes and toys. Your local installation Thrift Shop accepts donations and profits are donated as community grants and scholarships. If you start early this doesn’t have to be stressful. I just do one room a week until complete.
- I tend to keep a well-stocked pantry. It is too early to stop grocery shopping, but I like to get an idea of what we have and to start planning to use it up prior to our move.
- Start thinking about how you want to move. We always use movers but a DITY move may be a good option for your family. If you have lots of stuff and especially if it is a cross country move it is just easier to have someone else do the packing and moving. PCS season is super busy so as soon as your spouse has your orders get into transportation to schedule your move. You will have better options and more likely to get the days you want.
- The Fun Part, dreaming about your new duty station and planning your trip. We always take the full amount of travel time authorized by the military and make it a fun trip. I get online and start reconning pet friendly hotels and activities. Having a pet does limit you but we still have managed to make fun trips. The goal is not to arrive at your new duty station exhausted.
I loved all 30 of my moves (yes, it is a lot, but I was a military brat, served 12 years and became a military spouse. Yes, there are challenges, but I love seeing and living in new places. So, take the time to do some pre-planning and a little organizing for a stress free move. What are your favorite PCS tips? Post below to share.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com