It’s the most chaotic time of the year….(sang to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”).
PCS season is here. When the orders start rolling in, it is time to start planning out the move. Packing up your home can be daunting. You may want to let the professionals do it, but sometimes the government procured movers aren’t actually moving professionals but college students on summer break and learning how to pack themselves. Whether you are planning to move with a PPM (personally procured moved, formerly DITY) or a government procured move, get organized with these packing tips.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. We have heard the old adage of location, location, location for real estate, but preparation for a move is key. Getting everything organized, thinned out and ready to go is key for establishing a smooth process and getting the most out of your PCS.
- Cull. Part of preparation is going through and culling. Not just Marie Kondo style, wholesale – clothes your kids have grown out of, outdoor toys that you don’t know if they will fit in the new yard, snow gear if you are moving to Hawaii, and books that no one has read in the last three years can all go. Every little bit helps, if you cull “extra” items, you won’t have to pack them. Many places accept donations both on and off-post – consider dropping them off at the on-base thrift stores for other families to enjoy or
- Shred. This goes along with cull, but shredding paperwork or old bills that you do not need to move means you are saving space and thinning out unnecessary items. If you don’t have the time to do it, check for local shred events. Local shred events may charge a fee for a certain number of bags, but there may be a bag or two that are free. And if it saves you time, it may be worth the money.
- Organize. Getting bins or bags for kids’ clothes and labeling them by size means they can be easily tossed into boxes and unpacked just as easily. Pack up seasonal items and label them as such. Bin up shoes for the different seasons. This makes unpacking that much simpler.
- Make your own parts box. Whether you are moving or having the government procured movers pack you, make and designate your own parts box. Make sure it is a durable box that won’t accidentally go missing or have items fall out of it.
- Pack a go-bag. Don’t forget to pack a bag for each person to have items after the house is packed. To avoid running out to the store to get a toothbrush or toothpaste for a member of your family, pull out items that you will need during the transition period between homes or while on travel.
- Pack an “open this” box. Pack a box that is filled to the brim with essentials that you need the first week – toilet paper, shower curtain, kitchen items, towels, sheets – all items that allow you to move into the empty home and make it work while waiting for your household items. If you are moving to OCONUS, this can be a suitcase. If you are moving cross country this can be a bin you bring with you.
- Reserve a “do not pack” area. Make this room a bathroom or small room so you can easily shut a door. This is a great visualization for everyone who is packing or preparing.
- Set aside pro gear. Whether you are packing these items yourself or having the packers do it, make sure that pro gear is labeled and set aside. Pro gear are items that do not count toward your household goods and are items that you typically have for your job – equipment, field gear, or books for the service member and the spouse. There is a 2,000-pound limit for the service member and 500 pounds for the spouse.
- Separate important papers. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports – all items that are not easily replaced are items you need to carry with you on a move and store in a secure place during the move process. This also includes medical records or sentimental items. Have one suitcase or bag for these items so you are always aware of where they are.
- Make an inventory video. This may sound silly but walk around your house recording the items you own, including video of your appliances working with the current date. Including any model numbers in the video. This helps with replacement if necessary and is just good to have on hand.
- Save, save, save. Moving is not cheap. While the military may pay for your move, it is still an expensive season replacing necessary items and general preparation. Saving as soon as you are able can help you be more prepared.
PCSing doesn’t seem to get easier with each move. You can get more prepared with more practice, or use this list to be expertly prepared for this PCS season. May the PCS gnome be kind to you and your family this season.