On 30 December, we started our trip. My mom was able to go with us to help with the girls, so we had 5 people, our luggage and lots of other random stuff in 2 cars. The first day we drove from Georgia to Ft Campbell, KY where another Army friend had graciously offered to let us stay at her house. It was so nice for the girls to be able to run/crawl around a house rather than be stuck in a hotel room.
Day 2 of travel we had the pleasure of driving through some snow as we made our way to the St Louis area where we stayed in lodging at Scott Air Force Base. Their lodging is former housing so we were once again able to spread out in a 3 bedroom townhouse.
1 January was our last day of driving and our arrival in Kansas. We got the keys to our house on the 2nd and the movers arrived with our Household Goods (HHG) on the 3rd. Ronnie and Travis (our friendly movers) spent 2 days unloading and unpacking. It has been almost a week since then and although everything doesn't have a place yet, we are getting there. An Army move can be exhausting and a little stressful, but we truly enjoy discovering a new place and look forward to this adventure!
Here are some tips from our family and some of our friends on how you can have the best PCS:
- Purge! Don't move items that you no longer want or need. We had a yard sale a few weeks in a row before our move and were able to clear out quite a few things we were ready to get rid of. You will be amazed at how your trash truly is someone else's treasure. Anything that we couldn't sell, we donated to a local charity. Remember that you can get a receipt for items donated and claim that on your taxes.
- Pre-Clean. Go ahead and deep clean any areas that you can take care of in advance. B has done almost all the cleaning for our last 2 moves so I can't take any credit for that. In the month leading up to this PCS, he started cleaning some areas here and there. After our HHG were gone, he was able to easily go over everything one more time.
- Have a Do Not Pack room. This is usually our biggest bathroom. Set aside anything you want to take with you or just want to get rid of before the move. This allows the packers to work a lot faster when they know everything else in the house is ready to go.
- Take care of your packers/movers... We typically provide drinks(bottled water and Gatorade) and lunch for ours. Some people tip and some people do not. That is obviously a personal choice. At the very least, I would recommend offering to feed them though.
- But remember that this is their job. Don't let them get out of what they are getting paid to do. We always request a complete unpack at our destination. They occasionally grumble about that but it is their responsibility along with reassembling anything they had to take apart.
- Lists and more lists! Start making lists of everything you need to do, pack, etc. Don't forget to keep a pen and paper by your bed so you can write down that random thing you think of in the middle of the night!
- Take pictures. If you have pictures of your more valuable items and serial numbers from electronics, that could be really helpful when making a claim. I also hold onto receipts for all our valuable items. When my daughter's crib was damaged in the move to Georgia, we were able to reference our receipt to get a good reimbursement.
- Keep daily household items with you. In case you get your house before your HHG arrive, keep some items with you that you may need. Important paperwork, sheets, blankets, towels, air mattresses, and laundry detergent are good to have on hand. Each post will have a lending closet where you can also temporarily borrow dishes, cookware, small appliances and many other household items.
- Keep your kids involved. If they feel like they are active participants in the moving process, it will make for an easier transition for them. We bought our daughter a travel journal where she could write and draw pictures about the trip. Showing them their home, school and other fun things in the area helps them get excited about their new adventure. Let them choose their room at the new house and make a game of finding all the moving stickers after your HHG arrive.
- Ziplock bags. Keep ziplock bags, tape and a permanent marker on hand for last minute labeling on packing day. Put contents of any 'junk drawers' in a ziplock bag. This keeps all those small items from getting dumped in a box. Place the ziplock bags back in the drawer so the mover can just reach in and grab the bags.
- Reach out to friends. Don't be afraid to get some help from your friends. Maybe you need someone to watch your kids while your HHG are getting packed. Maybe someone can give you a place to stay. I got in touch with a friend in TN about meeting for dinner when we passed through her town. She ended up offering to let us stay at her house for the night. With 2 young children, it was such a blessing to be able to sleep at her house rather than a hotel room. We also had friends in KS that we were able to ship a few things to before we arrived. Everyone was very gracious and seemed happy to be able to help.
- Take advantage of your military benefits and discounts. Moving can be expensive. Save money where you can. Military lodging can be much more affordable than standard hotels - especially if you are on orders. We spent one night in lodging at Scott Air Force Base. Their "lodging" is actually 3 bedroom townhomes that are fully furnished. If we had stayed in a regular hotel instead, we would have paid more money for a single room. If you have to eat out, try restaurants that offer military discounts. When you move into your new house, don't forget that home improvement stores like Hope Depot also offer military discounts.
- Enjoy the adventure! Everything is not going to go exactly according to plan. Expect that some things will go wrong and be ok with that. Remember that most things are just little annoyances that will not make a difference even next week. Have fun and bloom where you are planted (at your new duty station)!