June 6, 2019
It’s that time of the year…yet again. Military families from all over are beginning their big #BlueStarSummer adventure.
No, we’re not talking about a dreamy tropical vacation. We’re talking about the journey to their next duty station. So, if you find yourself in the “MilFams Who Are PCSing” camp this year while living out of boxes and suitcases, we’re sharing some words of wisdom from the community to help make this time in your life a little less stressful and a bit more fun.
- Keep a PCS binder on hand.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy! Just a simple, three-ring binder that will keep all the necessary paperwork all in one place (think orders, list of essential contacts, shipping documents, medical and dental records, school records; you name it). One Blue Star Families follower, Stacy, told us it has saved her family in so many different situations because you never know when you might need some important documentation.
You can also create a free digital Trello board for your family’s PCS if you want to take things to the next level. You know, in the event a few must-haves get lost in the shuffle. 😉 This can also host checklists to work through and hotspots and doctors to check out once you arrive at your new duty station. Make sure you keep a manila envelope or snap a photo (and upload it to your Trello board) of any receipts you collect along the way, too!
- Designate a room for personal, DO NOT PACK items.
This is a simple hack, but one worth mentioning again and again! Suzanne shared that she and her family would always block off one room or area and place all of their personal items in there so they didn’t get packed. If you follow suit, label the entrance to the area with a clear, easy-to-read sign that says “DO NOT PACK” and make it off limits. Don’t forget to put cleaning supplies in this space too so you can clean after your belongings get packed up!
- Make plastic totes & Spacesaver bags your best friend.
While cardboard boxes are always a go-to packing supply, consider an eco-friendly alternative: plastic totes. Angie mentioned that her family uses reusable plastic totes and stores them away until the next move. Why? Because often, they can hold more weight and be easier to organize.
Another favorite? Reusable Spacesaver vacuum bags. Safely pack away your linens, pillows, clothing, and other delicate items inside and you’ll quickly notice how much space is, well, saved to make room for more belongings!
- Consider renting a storage unit a month before the big moving day.
Now, hold up a minute before you start thinking this hack will actually cost you more money than you’re already going to spend. Sometimes it’s FREE to rent a storage unit for a month before your PCS date arrives.
In fact, Christine told us this is her favorite hack because the storage unit serves as an out-of-sight spot to load up packed items, and as a result, her family has yet to arrive at their next location with lost or damaged goods (WOW!). Ultimately, when the house is empty except for your furniture, a storage unit can make the process of moving yourself (aka a DITY) easier to manage (if that’s the route you choose!).
- Put knick-knacks and loose-ends in Ziploc baggies.
Want to avoid opening a box with hundreds of pencils, markers, magnets, and paperclips tossed everywhere? Purchase Ziploc baggies in bulk and place items from your drawers or shelves inside. That way, you won’t have to spend hours re-organizing as soon as you arrive at your new home.
- Load up a First Day Essentials box.
Think about the necessities you’ll need the first few hours and days in your new home. Then, get to packing what will be called your First Day Essentials box! This can include a pair of scissors, box cutter, plenty of trash bags, few rolls of toilet paper, all-purpose cleaner, shower curtain, hand soap, paper towels, a couple of hand towels, and a basic toolkit to get you started. And be sure this is kept in the DO NOT PACK room so you can open it as soon as you arrive.
- Mark boxes by room with color-coded stickers.
Make life a little easier when your household goods arrive by developing a color system for each room and tagging each box accordingly before it goes into the moving truck. This favorite hack of Blue Star Families fan Laurie is pretty straightforward to tackle.
All you have to do is purchase ready-made stickers on Amazon or make your own (if you’re a DIY type of family!), then use a piece of paper to display the color key for the unloading crew to see. That way, they can quickly identify where each box goes (without you having to do the directing, especially if you’re handling the move without a second adult!).
- Download podcasts for kiddos to tune in (& audiobooks for yourself!).
You’re all packed up, and now an even greater adventure begins—traveling from point A to point B as a family. If you’re PCSing with little ones, you know it’s essential to keep them occupied during long car or plane rides. So Stacy shared another favorite hack with us: downloading kid-friendly podcasts! Her kiddos love to listen to WOW in the World and The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian. Best of all, they’re free! Just don’t forget to add some audiobooks or entertaining podcasts into the mix for your listening pleasure.
- Map out your move to ensure fun along the way.
Driving to your next location? Map out the stops you plan on taking along the way to keep things fun and light-hearted. We know just how eager you are to get to your final destination! But even if you’re kid-free on your PCS adventures, it’s important you schedule in plenty of breaks so you can get out of the moving vehicle, stretch, and refresh. Who knows, maybe a Blue Star Museum or Blue Star Park can be found on your route!
- Book your hotel(s) as soon as you know your PCS plans.
Lastly, as soon as you get your plans mapped out, book your hotel(s) for each resting point ASAP! If you think you can push it off until the last minute, think again. Many people travel in the summertime, and if you’re planning on taking advantage of military lodging, rooms will book up many months in advance.
Not to mention, if you have a feeling (or already have confirmation) your home won’t be move-in ready by the time you arrive, book a hotel room in your new duty station location. Often, you can reduce the length of your reservation without penalty up to 48 hours before you get there. It’s always best to play it safe!
Make it a #BlueStarSummer for Your Family
Become a member of Blue Star Families today to access free military resources that can support you no matter where you may be at on your journey! We can’t wait to welcome you into the family.