July 11, 2011

A PCS Move: The Packing List

As an Army family, we're never in one place for very long, and I have good and bad feelings about that. We have only been here at Fort Leonard Wood since last October, and in a matter of three weeks, we are moving across the country again to Fort Lewis in Washington. While we are looking forward to all the beauty and milder temps of the Pacific Northwest, I can't believe we just did this whole pack, move across the country, unpack thing less than a year ago. Ah well, its our turn again...

Goodbye to beautiful Ft. Leonard Wood:

Since we don't have to cross the Pacific Ocean this time, we are going to be driving the truck while pulling the X-terra on a trailer when we head west. This means we get to use the X-terra as a "trailer." When you move so many times, you get to be a pro at packing just what you'll need to get by if you arrive at your new home before the bulk of your household goods. Which shouldn't happen this time since our stuff doesn't have to travel by boat, but with the Army you just never know. Its better to be prepared than to trust what they tell you. (Kinda disheartening, but its reality)

For any new military spouses out there who are trying to organize and pack a home up for your first PCS (permanent change of station), here's my list of must haves:

1) Important Documents - medical records for all members of the family (pets too), power of attorney, all paperwork the moving company gave you, copy of your soldier's orders, all receipts to anything remotely related to the move (you'll get reimbursed by the Army for lots of it), any bills you don't pay online but will be due before you have a new address, and I always bring my address book.

2) Jewelry - don't let the movers pack it, just carry anything expensive or sentimental with you.

3) Air mattress - invest in a thick one that comes with its own air pump. I don't know how many times we have used ours since our first move. Really just make sure you can at least make a pallet of some sort for everyone traveling with you.

4) Bedding - make sure to pack a set of sheets and a few blankets for the car ride and to use with the air mattress.

5) Shower Curtain - when you finally get to your new home, the last thing you want to have to do is run back out to buy a shower curtain or dig through all the moving boxes so that everyone can go to bed clean. You'll be tired, and you'll be thankful for a hot shower. *don't forget to pack the hanging hooks too and a couple of towels*

6) All your household cleaning products - the Army will NOT move open containers of liquid, candles, oil based stains or paint, etc. But, all those things are really expensive if you have to start all over; get a box and throw everything in the car.

7) Electronics - lap tops, cell phones, cameras, video cameras, iPods, Kindle, etc along with all the power cords.

8) Personal Items for everyone - one suite case per family member, baby must have items, a pillow for everyone, toiletries, any special medications.

9) Plants - we have potted plants on our front porch, and since we're driving this time, we're going to attempt to take our plants along. I'll let y'all know how we secure them and how well they travel. Any seasoned military wives done this before? Any advice?

10) Pet items - kennel/crate, food & water bowls, the actual food, leash, heart worm pills, flea & tick medication, etc.

11) Any other expensive or cherished family items in your home that you just don't want to take a chance on. Because no matter what, you'll probably have at least a few items that end up looking like this after the PCS:

12) Cooler - for any food in the frig and freezer that you don't want to give away. You can also throw sandwich stuff in there, so you don't have to eat fast food every day for lunch while on the road. Want a few more ideas for eating well and saving money while on the road? Head over to Passionate Homemaking. We'll be packing baby food as well when we head out.

Hmmmm that might be our list - hope it all fits! And, at the end of the day if there is still room in your car, go ahead and load yourself up. :)

Any other military wives want to weigh in on what/what not to pack in the car for a PCS move? Any helpful hints on relocating in general?


  1. Girl, you're practically a professional at this :) I remember many a day when my mom was out by the moving truck with her clip board, making sure everything was done according to her standards (and yes things still got broken or LOST). I think the best story was when we moved to Hawaii and by the time we got our stuff (did you ever have Aloha furniture??), the varnish had melted on our dining room furniture, and it had been wrapped in this brown padded paper. We were peeling that stuff off for months. You'll find this funny now, too--when Justin and I purchased electronics and some bigger kitchen appliances together, I thought you always kept the boxes for all that stuff. My dad would always pack those things himself, in the boxes they came in because they had the styrofoam packing on the inside, etc. and they were better than having a mover wrap it in paper and throw it in a box. Justin gently informed me that we didn't need all that stuff because we weren't moving for a long, long time. A hard habit to break, but it freed up space in the garage!

    Only thing I can think of to add to your shower curtain box is a roll of toilet paper and maybe some real curtains, in case your house doesn't come with any blinds. Good luck with the move!

  2. Well, the only move I have been a part of was Steve's solo move from Hawaii to Washington. But I oversaw it all as he had to work when the movers came to pack everything up. It all went smoothly, though, but he didn't have all that much stuff. I think he filled 2, maybe 3 crates.
    But on the other hand I have heard some seasoned wives tell some stories that you would not believe, such as her moving company taking the moving truck under and underpass that wasn't tall enough for the truck and damaging her very valuable baby grand piano.
    BUT I digress.. What I wanted to say about moving with the military is to always move with an open mind, not prejudging the location to which you are moving. I find so many people say, I don't want to move to X, it's such a horrible place to live, or I really want to move to Y because the weather is so great. Each place in the world has positives and negatives and if you go with a closed mind you won't like it and you will miss the joy to be had. Plus, you're going anyways whether you like it or not, so why not enjoy it. :)
    And also, I wanted to say was you are going to love the PNW. I just realized how blessed I am that I just went outside and ran in the middle of the day and it was a brisk 64 degrees. That is something you could never do in Hawaii or Texas.
    Let me know when you get settled. We will have to come down and see you all!

  3. Peyton - that is hilarious! :) but so true we definitely saved the boxes for some of our things too. and I meant to list toilet paper - thank you!

    Amanda - I totally agree with being open minded. We had so many people tell us how sorry they were to hear that we were moving to Missouri from Hawaii, but we stayed positive because we were really looking forward to a snowy winter and some simple country living. Now that we're headed up to your neck of the woods - we're excited for temperate weather, good coffee, and some city life again. Can't wait to get there and catch up with you!

  4. Always wrap breakables in butcher’s paper before putting into the carton and never lay it flat, have your items in an upright position to avoid damages.


  5. Pack room-by-room. Focus on one area of a room at a time and don’t mix items from different rooms in one box. To prevent miniature knickknacks and small items from being lost or mistakenly thrown out with the packing paper, wrap them in brightly-colored tissue paper.


  6. while I papered and taped, so maybe there's my motivation) but then Charlie came over and I became a bit distracted. long distance moving companies near me