By Marguerite Cleveland
When it comes to PCS moves one of the most challenging is a cross country move. It is a long trip and you may not see your household goods for a month or more. It makes packing a huge task because of the length us time.
Before you begin make sure you have the names of pet friendly hotels and lodging, also check if you have any relatives along your route you might wish to visit or stay with. Also schedule services for your cars so that they are ready for the trip.
The first thing you should do is look at the route. I plan for 350 miles a day which is what the military allows. You can travel more each day but for us traveling with a pet and children, 350 miles works out to a 7 or 8 hour trip which is a perfect length allowing time for stops. I use MapQuest and input the whole distance in. Then I begin to refine the trip by looking at what cities or attractions are along the route. I then start blocking off 350 mile legs. With MapQuest you can have multiple stops, so I will input a location to see if it is within my 350 mile range.
Once you have a rough idea of your trip now you must refine it. The next step is to find your lodging. Google is your friend here. I also read reviews and find Trip Advisor is usually pretty accurate. Finding lodging is very challenging if you have pets. I have found the Best Western chain is pretty consistent with allowing pets. Another must have for a hotel stay for my family is a pool. While my husband and I are tired all day from driving, the kids are usually a bundle of energy due to sleeping all day in the car. A pool is a way to diffuse all that energy.
My memories of cross country trips as a military brat inspired my lifelong love of travel. Instead of just stopping for gas, look for fun attractions to visit along the way. Some stops I will never forget are the Corn Palace or the Store with over 70,000 silver dollars displayed. There are plenty of kitschy stops just off most interstates around the country. A great guide is www.RoadsideAmerica.com, you can put in your route and pushpins will pop up along your route and you can decide which ones to add. We stop every two hours when traveling and make everyone get out of the car.
In addition to packing everything you will need for 30 days without your household goods, you will need to have refreshments. We pack a large cooler filled with bottled water and the snack box with non-melting treats. With the summer heat it is important to drive with plenty of water and stay hydrated. Monitor your pets and small children to make sure they are getting enough to drink. There are still some stretches of highway that have long distances between exits so you want to have supplies.
I make an itinerary for each day of the trip with hotel addresses and phone numbers, the general plan for the day and directions. Each car gets a copy. Sometimes you can find yourself without cell phone coverage so it is important to have a plan.
What do you do to prepare for a long PCS move?
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