Helpful tips to make everyone look forward to the adventure
By Marguerite Cleveland
The first PCS move I can remember as a child was a three-week adventure I still recall to this day even though it was over 40 years ago. It was an epic trip from San Diego, California to Newport, Rhode Island with five kids, our dachshund Cleopatra, Mom and Dad; all in a Pontiac Station wagon. What an adventure it was crossing the desert at night to avoid the heat, seeing Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde National Park. We got snowed in when in Colorado and ate spaghetti for six straight meals while visiting family (the go to meal in the 70’s for lots of people) in Louisiana. What could have been a challenge for many was a great adventure due to my Mother’s always positive demeanor and my Father’s excellent planning and organizing skills.
PCS moves can be challenging and stressful, but we all signed up for this life so embrace it and look at the positives. My Mother began prepping us about three months out. “I’ve got the go bug,” she would say. “I am so tried of living here and ready to see somewhere new.” I am sure she had mixed feelings and would miss her friends, but she never let us know anything other than she was so excited to be moving. I have to say it was infectious. We never worried about leaving friends behind because she had us so focused on the fun places we were going to see and all the new people we would meet. So that is tip number one. No matter how you feel embrace the PCS and get your kids onboard. Act like you’re happy even if you aren’t because believe me whining and complaining especially in front of the children will make it much worse. I have made over 30 moves in my lifetime and I can tell you there is always something you can focus on at your new location that will bring you joy.
Plan, plan and more planning. Research your trip and make reservations well ahead of time but make sure they are cancelable. Also, don’t try to ironman it and wear yourself out. You get paid travel pay for 350 miles a day. Take advantage of that and drive 7 to 8 hours a day when traveling with kids. Always book a hotel with a pool. It’s a great way to get out all that pent-up energy after a long day in the car. Save money by bringing a cooler and plan picnic lunches. Always carry snacks. You never know when you will hit a long stretch of road with no stops. I still have a trip notebook from one of our many moves. Give each child a notebook, colored pencils (crayons can melt in summer heat) glue sticks and safety scissors to journal their trip. We would stop at visitor’s center to get brochures to use in our books. One of my Mother’s most important rules. Stop every two hours and everybody out of the car to stretch and use the facilities. This was always nonnegotiable and avoided unnecessary stops.
To this day I still get the “Go Bug”, just that sense of wanting to see and do something new. So even though you may not be happy about your move try to focus on the positives not the negatives. It really does make a difference.
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