How to Survive a PCS
What to pack to Survive
When PCSing, there is a lot to think about and even more to worry about... will our stuff make it on time? or at all? in one piece? This will be our second PCS in a year, I understand the confusion and worry. Our stuff neither made it on time nor in one piece last time. The military branches auction the moving job to the lowest bidder which should prepare you for what is about to happen to your belongings. I have met people who had great moves, have had stuff lost and who have had stuff broken; just be prepared.
First off, the army will not ship your vehicles. The army will reimburse you for the weight that you pack in your vehicle, tolls and gas. They do a pretty good job paying you for the inconvience of leaving your life often. You will need a receipt with your car's weight before you pack it and after you pack it to determine how much you are hauling. You will need both of your vehicles for all of the essentials you need to survive the weeks without your stuff. I suggest 3-4 packing boxes and a suitcase for each person in your family.
One box is going to be for kitchenwares that you will need. You will most likely want to pack 4 plates (or as many as there are people in your family), 4 sets of silverware, a giant pot, a deep sauce pan, some spatulas, wooden spoons, a strainer and a can opener. You will want to pack some glasses and mugs. Last time, we forgot to pack our keurig... huge mistake! It will be atleast a week without your household goods so if you use something every day, pack it in your vehicle! If you are going on a shorter PCS (less than a day) you can pack up your freezer and refrigerator in an insulated cooler with ice packs (this may save you hundreds later.) Also, pack pasta, snacks, sauce and all other pantry items for meals when you first get there; you will be exhausted and won't want to do anything that first day!
Next box, you will want to pack blankets, flat sheets, pillows and towels. Some people need an air matress, however we don't mind sleeping on a floor! I suggest 2 towels per person and some kitchen towels. Pack an alarm clock in case you don't use your phones.
In the third and fourth box, pack all of your liquids. The army will not move your liquids or candles because it is a hazardous material. Do NOT throw away your cleaning supplies and personal products, it will cost hundreds to replace it all! Also, you will most likely need to clean your rental so it is easier that they leave them.
In your luggage, the typical stuff you would pack for a week long vacation is essential; clothes suitable for the climate, toothbrush/ paste and other hygiene products. Also, you may consider packing irreplaceable jewelry or other heirlooms in your luggage, the military has been known to lose some boxes.
Miscellaneous stuff to pack can include but is not limited to folding chairs, discontinued items that are hard to replace (china, wedding heirlooms, etc.), pet essentials, toilet paper and paper towels. The military will pay to replace anything they have broken however they may pay a depreciated value and sometimes you cannot replace an item. They destroyed my wedding tiara, it could have been replaced but it isn't the same...
We always pack our televisions in our car because the cable/satellite companies tend to arrive before your stuff, books to entertain you, school work or paperwork you may need and things such as an ihome and ipod.
Things to do before a PCS
A lot of things need to be done before a PCS other than packing. Things that need to be done include but are not limited to:
1) Transferring or cancelling/registering cable/dish, phone and internet.
2) Servicing both vehicles if it has been a while
3) Retrieving medical/dental/vet records from local facilities you used while there.
4) Filling out and filing necessary forms for the move.
5) Giving a 30 days notice and orders to your rental office (even if your lease is up then anyway.)
6) Go to the post office to forward your mail.
7) Set up a date for the water and electricity to be shut off in your rental.
8) Research and lease a new apartment in a safe area.
I really hope all of this information has been useful for you. I wrote this primarily because a lot of my friends are PCSing soon, as am I next week. This information can be applied to most moves, not just a military move. Remember, save receipts and claim everything damaged! The military will reimburse you! This is a stressful time, take it one step at a time and remember what's the worst that happens? Some broken stuff? Everything is replaceable.