A PCS (permanent change of station) move is hard in general. You’re having to uproot your family and move to a strange place. You leave behind friends and family, only to start over in a new place that you’ll probably only live in for three or four years. A PCS move can be very emotionally taxing if you let it be.
When we were preparing to move to Kodiak I was an emotional wreck. I was leaving all of my friends and family behind to move 5,000 miles away to a remote island. Besides my husband, I was leaving behind my whole support system. However, love and trust gets you through the tough times. I love my husband and this was something we had to do as a family for his career. So while it definitely wasn’t ideal, it’s only temporary, and we plan on making the best out of our three years in Kodiak.
There are a few tips I learned through our PCS experience on how to make your next PCS move stress free.
Prepare Early – A PCS is a big deal and requires a ton of preparation. If you’re having the military move you, it requires more preparation. Make sure to book your movers and book your hotels as early as possible.
Take Pictures of Household Goods – If the military is moving you, you will need documentation if any household goods are damaged/stolen/missing. Make sure to take pictures of anything you may consider valuable. Luckily we’ve never had anything damaged of value, but it was reassuring knowing that we had the pictures just in case we needed them.
Stay Organized – I kept a binder of all things moving related. It was really nice having everything in one central location, so I wasn’t searching for documents. I made a binder that contained my husband’s orders, moving company papers, car shipping information, important contacts from our prior or future duty stations, hotel info and hard-copy driving instructions.
Take Your Time – This is one thing we didn’t really do during our move and we really regretted it. We were moving from North Carolina to Alaska and with Madison only being 6 months old, we were worried with how she’d handle being in the car for so long. So we decided to make the trip over 12 days. In retrospect I really wished we’d given ourselves a few extra days and been able to enjoy some of the cities we visited. We stayed in some really awesome places, but were normally so exhausted by the time we arrived we didn’t have the energy to explore.
Have a Back-Up Plan – More than likely things are not going to go 100% the way you’d like for them to go. Hopefully you won’t encounter car troubles, but if they do know how you’re going to react. Do you have AAA or another car service? If not, this may be something you may want to look into before starting your travels. A back-up plan is worth the peace-of-mind.
Keep an Open Mind – Try new things, take pictures and enjoy yourself!