This is Part 2 in a four-part series covering nearly every aspect of a military PCS move. In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here: What to Expect and Pre-Move Tips for Your Next PCS
Following these tips will help you transition into your moving day with less stress and a lot more confidence. Do you have any additional tips, stories or advice you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!
Moving Day Tips: Ways to save time, energy and your sanity on moving day
What to bring with you:
(Hint: Put these items in your car BEFORE the movers arrive! Remember the trash can I mentioned before in Part 1? Movers pack fast and indiscriminately. They don’t have time to ask you if it should be packed (they ARE there to pack, after all) and you will not be able to be everywhere in the house to grab items before they box it up.)
- Take pictures and document: The day before the movers arrived, I went around the house with the digital camera and took pictures of everything. I also made sure to write down the serial numbers of all of our major appliances, electronics and the computer. Also keep copies of receipts for high-ticket items. (If you aren’t in the habit of keeping receipts for your valuable or breakable items, start now!) I kept this information in a notebook/CD combo that I carried with me during the move. This will come in handy in case anything comes up missing or damaged later.
- Important pictures: If you have pictures that cannot be replaced, take them with you. The last thing you need on top of the stress of moving is to find out your wedding pictures have been ruined.
- Valuable and collectibles: If you have valuables or collectibles that you would be heartbroken if something happened to them, pack them yourself. Be sure to leave room in the car for these items.
- Important papers: As noted above, you will have procured copies of your medical and dental records in advance along with copies of school records. Also be sure to set aside your birth certificates, copies of official military orders, Social Security cards, marriage license and any other important document that cannot easily be replaced. Make sure you keep these copies with you so they are easily accessible once you’ve reached your new duty station. Finding them buried in moving boxes that are on a moving truck will only add stress and frustration! In all likelihood, you’ll need them before you find the box they are in. These papers should be with you at all times during your move.
- Children’s items: Pack items to entertain the children along your move, paying special attention to ‘comfort’ items like a favorite stuffed toy or blanket.
- Snacks/Food for the road: Save money by packing a cooler with sandwich meat, condiments and drinks. Have snacks and bread ready so you don’t spend a lot of money eating out while on the road.
- Medications: Sometimes the movers are delayed for a variety of reasons. Take all of your medications with you and be sure you have more of a supply than you think you will ever need. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Pet supplies: Make sure you have everything you need for your pet. You will need their food, bowls, litter and any medications. Also try to bring a favorite toy so they have something familiar during the transition.
If you have room left in your car, bring these items too. Otherwise, plan to buy (or borrow) them once you arrive at your new location to get you through the first few days of getting settled in:
- Bare necessities: Take toiletry items including toilet paper with you. It’s also not a bad idea to at least take the shower liner with you (with hooks) and a few towels. Make sure you also have pillows and blankets in case you have to camp out on the floor for a few days.
- Comfort and convenience items: Be sure to leave out paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, etc. so you can still eat while they are packing your things.This will also make it easier and much cheaper when you get to your new place until you find all of your dishes. If you are a coffee lover like me, consider bringing a coffee pot to save from expensive trips to Starbucks!
Hint: Many bases offer short-term items to ‘borrow’ once you arrive at your duty station. Ask your housing office about lending closet options for bedding and comfort items in advance.
When the movers arrive:
- Make the movers responsible: The movers are responsible for the contents of what is packed. If you packed boxes in advance, they must repack them and seal the box themselves. Once the box is sealed by the movers, it becomes their sole responsibility.
- Stay out of their way: Plan to send the kids to a neighbor’s house to play or go to daycare for the day. Children are especially vulnerable when they see their precious items being packed, or they act out for attention during the stress of the day. Also plan to correlate with the lead mover to position yourself (or someone else) at their preferred point of exit/entry to take proper inventory of your boxes exiting your home. This may be at the front door or garage door. If you need to take a break, have someone on standby to take over your position to avoid confusion and packing delays.
- Watch them as best you can: Stay with them while they pack, or have someone do it for you! Watching them as they are packing your things just prevents mishaps, especially when it comes to the breakables and valuables. If they seem to be clumsy with your items, then speak up nicely. They are being paid to do a good job and to get all of your household items to your new home in one piece.
- Appreciate them: Above saying the occasional “thank you” as they carefully handled items, I went out of my way to be sure they had plenty to eat and drink while they were packing. Also consider tipping them individually at the end of the day. This will go a long way with them if you make small requests along the way or ask for favors. My husband was recovering from surgery when the movers came so they unhooked my washer and dryer for me. That’s something they are normally not allowed to do, but were happy to accommodate after I had accommodated them to begin with.
- List items in exact detail: Be sure they list your items in detail, including an accurate description of existing damage, wear or tear. Watch the damage codes closely, as they could build in ‘damage’ to your items to avoid paying a claim later. There will be a packing list that you must sign off on before they leave. Don’t let them just write “television” or “computer. The packing list/inventory sheet should say things like ‘32” Sony HD TV‘ with the serial number. Otherwise, you could end up with a 12” television belonging to someone else or a now-broken TV listed as broken to begin with. General descriptions and over-exaggerated damage codes mean you won’t be able to prove they packed a perfectly-good 32” TV in the first place.
- Check things twice: This goes for anything you do in life, but check everything before you sign. Once you have signed, you have agreed to the inventory list. Think of it this way: If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist. So, be sure to thoroughly check the list before you sign it and don’t let the movers rush you.
- Label boxes clearly: Be sure the boxes are labeled. The movers should number the boxes and the numbers should correspond to the inventory sheet. Also be sure they mark each box with your last name. Some people even attach their own label with name and address in case someone else ends up with their box. I once ended up with a HAM radio and some exceptionally frilly bedding that belonged to someone else. I feel badly for whoever lost those items (well, at least for the HAM radio) because I had no recourse to track the owner down!
- Consider creating an additional labeling system: Some people go as far as color-coding the boxes to correspond to the room it will end up in later. When it’s time for them to move your stuff in, just mark the door for each room in the new place with the corresponding color code. This makes it easier on the movers to know where it goes and divides the boxes up in the rooms they are supposed to be in. This is particularly helpful if you’ll be unpacking the boxes by yourself (though the movers are also paid to unpack everything too. See part 4 of this series!)
Do you have other advice you’d like to add to this list? Please share them in the comments section below!
Next up in the series:
Part 3: Children and Relocation – Making a PCS Move Easier for Children
Part 4: Your Final Delivery and Tips to Know After Your Move – Questions like “What are the movers required to do?” and “How do you file a claim?” are answered in this section
About the Author:
Torrey Shannon is a Blue Star Mom and wife of a severely injured veteran. After her husband’s injury in 2004 due to a gunshot wound to the head, the Shannon family spent three years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. After dealing with the invisible wounds of war on a daily basis for the last 8 years, Torrey continues to share her experiences and help others who are going through the same hardships. She is a freelance writer for a variety of publications and has been seen in multiple media outlets featuring her advocacy work. You can learn more about Torrey by visiting her blog at TorreyShannon.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest.