10 Moving Tips for Active Duty Military Vets
Consider these ten packing and moving tips to help you during your next military move.
1. Purge Items Early and Often
Depending on the branch of the military you or your spouse serves in, your family could be moving around often in the coming years — if you haven’t already. Purging items early and often can save you time and stress when new orders arrive. Sort through old boxes of clothes and toys, organize a garage sale, and donate items you no longer need. If you still have unopened boxes from your last move, get rid of them now.
2. Schedule Moving Details
As soon as you get official orders, you should set up a meeting with your base transportation office and the family center at your new station. They will explain all of your relocation options, discuss military housing available, and provide you with a moving sponsor and resources for the entire family. Next, you should hire a moving company for military families that you trust and can accommodate your preferred moving date. You may also want to consider booking a hotel near your base for any gap time between moving out of your current home and into the next.
If you have complicated moving arrangements. Utilizing a moving service that can also store your belongings for an extended period of time can be a huge stress reliever.
3. Use Your Resources
Whether you’re preparing for a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move or an Outside of Continental United States (OCONUS) move, there are several resources available for military families. The Department of Defense offers guides such as moving allowances and entitlements to help you avoid extra charges on your household goods after delivery. You can also build a custom moving checklist using the Plan My Move tool on their website.
4. Organize a PCS Binder
Do you need to register your car in a new state? Enroll your kids at a new school? While you’re in the process of moving, it’s a good idea to keep important documents safe and have them at your disposal during the chaos of packing and unpacking. Organize a PCS binder with the following items and paperwork:
- Past or future housing paperwork
- Contact info for the new base
- Marriage license
- Birth certificates
- Car titles
- Insurance documents
- Medical records
- Government-issued and military IDs
- Pet documents
- Travel reservations
5. Make a PCS Checklist
Along with a binder, you should create a PCS checklist. This should include everything to be done before, during, and after the move. Create a timeline with tasks for each step of the process, take inventory of your household items, and include an unpacking map. Using a tried-and-tested PCS checklist can help make the move a little less stressful — especially if it’s your first time doing it.
6. Maximize Every Box and Use A Labeling System
Once you have the details of your move scheduled and planned out, you can focus on moving out of your current home. If you’re packing the boxes yourself, be sure to maximize the space available. Use small boxes for heavy items, such as books and electronics, and large boxes for light items, such as pillows and blankets. Label each box by room using color-coded stickers or markers, that way you’ll know exactly where things are when it's time to unpack.
7. Tell Your Children Early About Moving
Moving can be a challenging experience for children. Sit down with them as soon as possible and explain what’s going to happen. Listen to their questions and emotions about the relocation and involve them in the packing process. If you have younger kids, consider gifting them a children’s book about moving to help them understand. Most importantly, reassure them that the important things in life — such as how much you love them — won’t change.
8. Keep Essential Items With You
Keeping certain items in your bag, car, or a suitcase will provide some peace of mind and allow you to access what you need right away. Items traveling long-distance in a moving truck can get misplaced or damaged during the move. Make a “don’t pack” list including, but not limited to:
- Your PCS binder and checklist
- Valuable or sentimental items
- A week’s worth of clothes
- Bedding, towels, and toiletries
- Cleaning and cooking supplies
- A first-aid kit and medications
- Chargers, adapters, and WiFi routers
9. Ask For Help
Military moves are a breed of their own. In the blink of an eye, you could be transferred thousands of miles away from your family and support system. Fortunately, there are lots of contacts and resources on social media, such as Facebook groups for milspouses, that offer support. You can reach out for packing and moving tips, getting to know your new base, and more. In addition, set up playdates for your children and pets while you pack. Ask friends and other milspouses to help supervise the movers and ensure your instructions are followed correctly.
10. Get to Know Your New Base
If you’re getting ready for a PCS, you’re probably wondering what your new duty station is like. From social media feeds to calling up the command itself, you can get all the details you need about your new base before you even arrive. Remember, each duty station has its own unique amenities, local perks, sights, and culture. Some specifics you may want to know include:
- Nearby attractions
- Medical care centers
- Easy day trips
- On-base amenities
- Larger nearby cities
Active-duty US service members, veterans, reservists, and retirees can take advantage of discounts offered by hundreds of stores, service providers, and online sites. To redeem certain discounts, you'll just need to show your military ID. Here’s a list of the top military discounts, as well as specific eligibility criteria.
- Advance Auto Parts - 10% off regularly priced items for in-store purchases
- General Motors - Discounts on purchases and leases, sometimes bonus cash; Verify identity with ID.me
- Jiffy Lube - 15% off most services
- Apple - 10% off select items; Verify identity with ID.me
- Samsung - Up to 30% off
- Microsoft - 10% off select products in the Microsoft Store, 30% off Microsoft 365 Family
Home & Garden
- Home Depot - 10% off up to a maximum of $500
- Lowes - 10% off eligible purchases
- Costco - $30 Costco Shop Card when you join as a new member; Verify identity with ID.me
Travel & Hotel
- Allegiant Airlines - Free checked bags, free carry-on bags, free oversized bags, other waived fees
- Delta Airlines - Discounted fares; Must call for military fares
- JetBlue - 5% off on travel
- Avis - Up to 25% off; Requires Veterans Advantage membership
- Enterprise - Discounted rates; USAA members get additional benefits
- Hertz - Discounted rates
Wireless & Internet
- AT&T - 25% off on mobile phone services
- T-Mobile - 50% off military discount wireless plans
- Verizon - Discounted plans