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You have received those beautiful orders and can officially begin preparing for your upcoming PCS! Now comes the fun part… As you prepare for your big move, and start thinking about packing your belongings, keep these tips in mind:

1. Label Everything.

The best way to have a smooth packing experience is to have things organized, and that takes a little legwork at the beginning, but it will be so worth it at the end. Labeling your boxes (even after the packers have already done so) with color-coded post-its, markers, sticker dots, or duct tape will make it easier to remember where you would like the box to go in the new house. Then, when you arrive, you can hang up signs or stick the colored stickers on the door for the room, and the movers will easily be able to drop off the boxes in the correct location without having to ask you for each one (because that gets old when there are 300+ items).

Don’t forget to label the room/area where you are keeping items that will not be packed. Place the following items in there:

  • Luggage 
  • Toys
  • Phones/Tablets (and chargers)
  • Day One Box 

2. Prepare a Day One Box.

Whether you’re moving all of your belongings by yourself, or if the military is taking care of the bulk of the load, you will need a few items when you arrive at your next duty station. Make sure to pack (and label) a box with some of these necessities, and keep it with you in the car:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates
  • Plastic utensils
  • Shower curtain liner
  • Blankets/pillows/air mattresses
  • Some new toys
  • PCS Binder

 3. Buy Ziploc Bags.

And in all the sizes. Whether you have experienced a PCS in the past or not, you can easily understand the need for keeping things organized, and not just loosely lying around. We can’t tell you how many times we have unwrapped a small package filled with loose pens (most of which no longer work) or found that we were missing parts to put together our beds, and we want to help you avoid any of those mishaps. Use the Ziploc bags to safely hold items together. And label every one.

Some things to bag up include

  • Utensils
  • Silverware
  • Pens
  • Small toys
  • Tape a bag next to each bed and label it for the hardware to be placed inside

4. Start Fresh.

We imagine you have probably spent more than a year at your last location, so it’s about time to start fresh at this next one! There’s no need to bring any smelly/dingy/gross items along for the ride. Take time to go through each room and eliminate anything extra that should be purged before this move. If you don’t do it now, you’ll probably end up doing it when you unpack, and let’s just save you some time up front!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Throw out all toilet brushes, plungers, old sponges, old mops/brooms
  • Wash all of your linens (sheets, towels, curtains, tablecloths), and if they look/smell gross, toss them.
  • Create sell/toss/donate piles, and actually follow through

5. Take Photos.

It’s no secret that moving frequently can cause some damage to your stuff, even when the movers take the time and care to package everything securely. It’s important to document your inventory and take pictures of your items before the move, for a frame of reference if there is an issue when it arrives at your new home. It’s simple to go around the house a few days before the packers arrive and grab some photos.

Here’s what to focus on:

  • Large furniture (beds, dressers, couches, tv stand, etc.)
  • Appliances (Washer/dryer, microwave, etc.)
  • High-Value Items (electronics, instruments, artwork). Make sure to try and group these together so you can make sure they are listed on your high value sheet, in detail and with serial numbers.
  • Label photos if the image is not obvious

6. Less is More.

When the big pack-up day is approaching, try to stop buying as many groceries, and eat the food that is left in your fridge/freezer/pantry. Also, consider buying sample sizes of your toiletries, because you will not be able to pack up any liquids for the move, and you will either be tossing them or taking them on the road trip.

Here’s how to work on clearing out what you have:

  • Save necessities to make quick easy meals (or save money for takeout)
  • Give your condiments/food items to a local friend
  • Keep a large bag/purse handy on move-out day to collect all of the items that got left behind

A PCS can be a stressful time, but if you prepare early, it can be a fun time to connect with local friends (maybe they’ll offer to make a meal or watch your kids/pets), and enjoy the sights while you travel to your next new home. It’s important to keep your sanity, and not get worked up over the little things that you can’t always control. 

Mission: Milspouse is a
501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

EIN Number: 88-1604492


P.O. Box 641341
El Paso, TX 79904


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