Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moving secrets: My advice to military families on getting organized and ready for your first PCS

I really wanted to do a post on moving when you're in the military especially when this is your first move. There are a billion in one things you need to do when moving to a new base and there are more things that I wish I had done to get ready for the move. This was our first PCS and we had no idea what to expect! After moving all the way to Alaska from Virginia I literally feel like an experienced mover and traveler, but I am by no means an expert on any of this. Hopefully my advice will reach a fellow military wife moving to a new base for the first time. Now that we have gone through this, I feel much better about our next move and I now know what to do and what to expect. Maybe I will be able to handle the next move in my sleep!
Make sure you have all of your important documents organized in folders. If your husband is like my husband, months before the movers came, he was running around base like a chicken with his head cut off because of all the out processing stuff that he had to get done prior. My husband had so much paper work that he had to keep it all in a folder. We had a folder with all of his out processing paper work along with many copies of our orders, a folder designated for Leo with all of his health records and pet health certificate(you cannot travel through Canada without obtaining one within thirty days of going through the border) and a folder for me with all of my documents and important paperwork. When traveling through another country, you want to have as much proof and as much paperwork as possible given the tons of questions they will ask you. Also, make sure you have your paperwork from the movers that states all firearms being shipped. Since we own firearms, we had many questions asked about them even though they were not with us. You need to be prepared to answer whatever comes at you.
Pack what you are bringing ahead of time. If you are flying to your new base you won't need to pack as much as we had to pack. We took a two week road trip to our new base and we had to pack a ton. I wish I had started packing earlier though. I started packing my clothes and important belongings like literally a day before the movers came and then I had a ton of laundry to do that same day. Set aside all of your clothing a week ahead of time so you won't wear it again before the move. Try not to dirty up a lot of clothing so you're not stuck doing laundry the day before either. You don't want to feel rushed when packing up your life for the next two or so months. You want to have the time to make sure you have everything. Especially if you are going to a place like Alaska. I had to pack all weather clothing because of the colder climate. We were leaving Virginia when it was in the 90's and getting to Alaska when it was in the low 50's. From tanks, shorts and flip flops to jeans, hoodies and rain boots, we had to pack it all.
Set aside a designated area for everything that you are taking with you. Pick a room. Any room. This room will be off limits to the movers. Put EVERYTHING that you are taking with you in this room. You don't want them accidentally taking something with them that you really need. If they take it, you won't see it again until you get to your new destination. In our case, we would not have been able to get to something until a month later after the movers left because of our long drive. We were lucky in the fact that my in laws lived in the same apartment complex as us and we were able to stay with them until we actually left Virginia. We were able to pack most of our stuff up and bring it to their house the day before the movers came so that it would be in a different place and away from everything that was being moved. The only stuff that we left behind in a specific room was cleaning supplies so that we could clean the apartment really good after the movers left for good.
Organize your decorations by room and pack them in bubble wrap before the move if you can. If you are a home decor freak like me, your decorations are very precious to you. I did something that I wish I had not done. I put all my decorations in one room. Just lying there. Not wrapped in anything. I put them all in the worst room too. I put them all in the living/dining room. All of my breakables and valuables. All of them just hanging out on the floor the day before moving day. Although the movers bring plenty of shipping paper to wrap breakables in, it still was not enough for some of my breakables. When the movers come, the are on a time crunch to get you all moved out, so they have to wrap everything very fast. Although they were very fast and efficient, some things were broken when they got to our new house. My absolute favorite tart burner from Yankee Candle was shattered into a ton of pieces because it was not wrapped good enough I am assuming. I wished I had wrapped specific breakables in my own bubble wrap before hand, but then again, the movers may have unwrapped them and still used their own paper. Also, organize them by room so that you can put them back in their rooms when you get to your new house. All of my decorations were mixed together so that when I unpacked them, I had to figure out with room they went in before. Total nightmare!
Organize your kitchen. I seriously think the kitchen took the longest to pack up and move. We really should have taken all of our dishes, glasses and the rest of our cookware, bake ware and small appliances out of the cabinets so that it would be faster for the movers to pack. We literally left everything as is in the kitchen. Although the movers did not care, we did. You want to try to make it as easy as possible for the movers. Especially when only one shows up to do the packing. Yes, we had one guy show up to do all of the packing. The three guys that would be moving all of our boxes and big furniture into the truck would be coming later on in the day once everything was all packed. I felt so bad for that little old man packing all of our kitchen stuff. He had to get Jarrett to reach most of the stuff in the higher cabinets. If I had taken everything out of the cabinets, he would been able to had access to all the plates and glasses, etc. already.
Eat up all of your food the week before. Do not do any grocery shopping close to your moving date. I mean, they can't take all your food with them any way so you might as well eat it all up. Whatever food you do have left over you can donate or give to friends and family. Luckily, we had in laws that could take most of if not all of our food off our hands. If you are driving, the only food you really want to bring with you is bottled water, sodas, snacks and easy meals to make like bread, cheese and sandwich meat. We bought a huge cooler and kept it stocked with drinks, sandwich stuff and snacks so that we didn't have to stop and eat fast food every meal. We went grocery shopping a couple of times while on our drive so that we could keep our cooler stocked.
What are your tips for moving to a new base?
What was it like for you when you moved to a new base for the first time?
Has anyone ever had a terrible experience with a military moving company?
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