Every Permanent Change of Station, also known as a PCS, includes a long list of things to do.
As an Army spouse, I have become intimately familiar with moving and being flexible throughout the PCS process as things have the tendency to change. I have participated in two ditty moves and 3 PCS moves and for a family of five with a dog and lots of heavy furniture in tow for each!
Below is a list of tips that I’d like to share with you to help you prepare for a PCS. In my experience, this list has grown and continuously developed from things going wrong, getting broken or lost in transit. Be sure to use it as a guide for your upcoming PCS.
- Take pictures and document. On the day before movers arrive, I document things with a digital and video camera. I also make sure to write down the serial numbers of all electronic items. If you have valuables, collectibles or anything that you treasure – BE SURE TO PACK THEM YOURSELF and of course, leave room in the car for these items. On our PCS move from Ft Riley to Ft Bragg, we had the largest U-Haul trailer in tow.
- Stay with the movers while they pack. Watch movers as they are packing your things especially when it comes to the breakables. If they seem to be clumsy with your items, then speak up - in a nice way of course!
- List items in DETAIL. There will be a packing list that you must sign off on before the movers leave. Take the time to ensure that your packing list includes details – LOTS of them. For example, don’t just write television. Write down the brand, serial number, screen size and any other details. Otherwise, you could end up with something different, or nothing at all, and you won’t be able to prove the movers packed it.
- Check everything before you sign. Once you have signed the packing list, you have agreed to the inventory list. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.
- Make sure boxes and/or large items are labeled. The movers should number the boxes and those numbers should match the inventory sheet. Be sure to take official orders, birth certificates, marriage license, social security cards, etc. these should all go with you in your car. Also take all of your families’ medications with you.
Now that you are all packed and ready to go, I’d like to share information about creating a “survival kit” for your family to have at your new duty station.
These are the items that are going to be essential.
Our first PCS move I didn’t take anything but clothes and YES we paid for it later. We were broke until payday because we had to make a security deposit on a new place and pay for all the utilities to be turned on.
Here’s a list of items to pack in a large tote container - AKA - your PCS survival kit.
- Electronics. Recommended items include a cellphone and a portable DVD player if you have small children.
- Toiletry items including toilet paper and bath towels.
- Pillows, blankets and air mattresses.
- Items for household pets.
- Paper goods so that you can still eat during the packing process. This will also make life easier when you get to your new place and haven’t yet found/unpacked all of your dishes.
- Cooler with sandwich meat, snacks and drinks.
When you arrive at the new duty station, take your time to check off the inventory list as movers bring in things. While you will be anxious to settle down in your new home, it’s important that everything is accounted for and that you are familiar with the process to report any broken of misplaced items.
While you may be overwhelmed during a PCS, with enough experience you’ll become a pro and will be making your own list of tips to help other Army Families prepare for deployment. Try your best not to dwell on the uncomfortable moments because one day you’ll look back and laugh at your memorable PCS trips.
This Army Live blog post was written by Crystal Cavalier, the 2011 Army Spouse of the Year.