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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

PCS’ing Do’s & Don’ts

There’s no way around it. A PCS (move) is HARD. There are many things to plan, process and prepare. We have done things in the past that made our PCS harder, and we have done things that made it a little smoother! A lot of tips you will read about will depend on if you have the military move you (they hire packing/shipping company) or if you do a DITY move (rent your own trucks & pack/move everything yourself).

I will do a post at another time about pros and cons of each as we have done both now, but here are some of my general do’s and don’ts of PCS’ing:


  • A last minute trip/get together with friends from your current duty station

I was so glad we did a trip before we moved with our friends from our last base. It gave us all the best memories and fun before we had to say goodbye!


I thought I got rid of SO much before we moved but when the movers brought our stuff to our new home I still had SO much stuff to go through & get rid of. Definitely recommend a yardsale, listing stuff on FB marketplace, or just giving it away on the curb for free!

  • Make a binder with important documents

Having a binder that stayed with us on the road trip all in one place was helpful when we needed to get them for hotels, to sign up the kids for school, etc (i.e. PCS orders, kids immunizations/birth certificates, dog vaccine records, important medical docs)

  • Pack essentials but ONLY essentials

You do want to make sure you have a few days of clothes, toiletries, activity items (tablet/books), chargers, etc. but you don’t want to pack too many personal belongings. It will make for either an uncomfortable road trip or difficulty getting through an airport. Just remember you willl be able to do laundry somewhere during the move & you can usually get items at a loan locker at your new base once you are out of TLF/hotels. It can suck not having certain things but I promise you will appreciate carrying less weight.


  • Procrastinate!

You are talking to the QUEEN of procrastination, so I won’t preach too much on this. With our most recent PCS I tried to slowly start doing things several months before the move that I know would make the last few weeks before it slightly less stressful. I did a lot of cleaning, purging, researching our new town/base, etc.

  • Buy new furniture/items before the move

I was so tempted to buy a new couch the year before our move but I’m glad I didn’t. For one, you can’t gurantee new stuff won’t get broken during the move. Also, if I had bought a new couch it most likely wouldn’t have fit in the layout of our new home. I would always recommend bringing less rather than more.

  • Stop enjoying life leading up to the move

When you get orders your mind can start spinning with all you’ll have to do leading up to the move and getting ready to say goodbye to your current home. I have struggled with checking out during this time, limiting the fun stuff we did or hanging out with friends due to feeling like I needed to both mentally and physically preprare for moving. With our most recent PCS I made more of an effort to spend time with the people we loved at our last base, to still enjoy my work & adventures with my family. I think this helped not only with reducing my anxiety about moving, but also made it easier on our kids who needed those memories.

  • Forget to ask for help!

As military families we are so dang resilient and independent when it comes to handling stuff without family nearby. That does not mean that you should avoid asking for help. PCS’s are inredibly hard and there is SO much to do in the months before. Reach out to friends or babysitters to watch the kids while you look at houses or organize/purge certain rooms. Or for help with loading up or car, or taking you to the airport. We all need some kind of support during this time!

Wow, it is such a weird feeling having an empty house, saying goodbye to something that was home for years, and to amazing friends. For anyone getting ready to PCS give yourself grace, and remember no matter what do’s or don’ts you accidentally do or don’t you will get through it and you will know a little more for the next time!

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