So let's go back...way back...to like several months ago, when this whole PCS thing started. It's been a wild few months but I figured this would be a good way for all of you who might have a PCS coming up, or for the non-military friends, to get a glimpse into the insanity.
For you non-military friends, here's a little bit of a scoop on how this PCS (permanent change of station) thing works. At some point, you find out you have an assignment or you're up for an assignment. You usually have some idea of when this is happening, it's not a big shock to find out you might be moving. It's usually a month or 2 before you're actually assigned but for us, we found out way back in September, so we'd known this was coming for awhile. We didn't really share it though because, well, it's the Air Force and things can change fast. We officially got word of being placed in our assignment in February, which meant everything was in place for them to start our orders. Orders are what really tells you you're going somewhere, so again in February, we still kept our assignment pretty quiet because well...things change. So after running around trying to get some things set up for medical clearance for the kids we finally got our orders the end of March, which meant it was time to start really planning this move!
A lot goes into the PCS, luckily, most of it on the hubby's part, but I took on the actual logistics of moving and finding somewhere to live.
Soon after we got our orders, we put an offer in on a house (that we hadn't seen, but our friends had gone house hunting for us and given us a thumbs up on this one). Some negotiating and we were under contract for a house! yay!
Place to live-Check!
Next up, how the heck are we going to get there? For a PCS you have the choice to move yourself (DITY, as we call it) or have a moving company move you. You or the moving company get paid per pound and you have a max weight limit. Some people can make big bucks doing a DITY, but it's A LOT of work. There's also a third option to have a moving company do the bulk of your move, and you get paid for the weight you travel with, which is what we did. So a moving company picked up our orders, came to our house to go through the details with us and check out our stuff, and scheduled the move. Our neighbors stole the good move days (they had orders before us and it was the same company moving us both...same team of people, they literally lived on our street for a week during the move) so we were left with the choice of being rushed or packing up before a weekend. We chose the weekend option, so we split our move over a weekend, which isn't ideal for small kids, but we made it work.
Next up, I planned out our route to travel. We decided to drive both our cars (you no longer get money for shipping a car, FYI for people who haven't PCSed in awhile). While you can use dislocation allowance or other money to ship a car, we figured we could use the space to transport the kids, dog, and things we were bringing ourselves so we would take both cars. There are actually several routes we could drive, but since we hadn't seen the northern states (Colorado, Utah, Kansas, etc) we picked that route. Plus we had friends along the way! A quick run down of our trip and stops:
Day 1: Los Angeles AFB-Nellis AFB (Las Vegas, NV)- we got to see my sister, brother-in-law and niece while we were there!
Day 2: Nellis AFB-Colorado Springs, CO- our marathon day. I'd suggest breaking this up into 2 days, but there's not a lot of places to stop on this route. Number of cities we saw during the 12 hour drive=1
Day 3: Rest, relax, visit with friends, repack our cars, clean out the insane amount of gold fish everywhere.
Day 4: Colorado Springs- Fort Riley, Kansas
Day 5: Fort Riley-St. Louis, MO
Day 6: St. Louis, MO-Columbus, OH-we overshot our final destination! 1. to see the hubby's sister, 2. We had a wedding to go to in PA that next weekend, so we had to drop the kiddos off with family in PA 3. We had closed on our house but were renting it back until early June so we weren't paying rent and mortgage so we couldn't get to our house yet anyway.
Day 7: Columbus, OH-middle of nowhere Pennsylvania-our final stop for a week or 2 at my parents house! Woooo! Finally done for a day. Actually, not even a full day because Tom and I hit the road the next day for the wedding we had to go to!
While planning, I booked hotels and arranged with friends and family for our stops. We also made reservations for a hotel the week before we moved. Since we had decided on the not-rushed schedule with the movers, that meant a week long stay at TLF (base hotel/lodging, which is free for so many days of a PCS, depending on certain details. We had 10 days either at LA or our final stop in Ohio). Since TLF was booked, we were stuck in a hotel off base. FYI, if you're PCSing to or from LAAFB, let me know because I definitely would NOT recommend where we stayed. If you want specifics, I'd be happy to share with you privately.
A big thing to consider while traveling: PETS! We had to make sure everywhere we stopped was dog friendly. We also had to plan room for the dog and all of his things. Luckily, it wasn't hard to find since we stopped at friends/family and military bases for most of our trip. We ended up boarding the dog in LA before we left while we were cleaning the house and checking out because the hotel room was too small and the kids were hard enough to handle without worrying about taking the dog out.
Wooo! That was a lot! Ok and that was just the logistics that we planned out in early April! When it came down to moving, I want to think all the planning paid off because it was a fairly smooth move (we haven't gotten our things delivered yet, so hopefully I don't jinx it!). But I will be back to tell you all of my moving tips and tricks I learned! Some things I did, some things I wish I had done differently, either way, hopefully this will help you with your next PCS! Or give you faith that it can be done and everyone can survive ;)
Up next: THE BIG MOVE!