PCS Tips: Preparing for Your Military Move

“Spin up” is a term my husband throws around for his job in the military pretty often. He’s constantly spinning up for something, and the latest thing on our horizon is our summer military move. Basically, spin up means you hurry up and get all your stuff done…and then you wait (and wait, and wait) for more information in order to move forward.

Do you have an upcoming PCS? Here are things you can do NOW while you wait for your upcoming military move.

While I’m sure people from all walks of life are familiar with “hurry up and wait,” military wives know this phrase better than anyone. If you’re wondering how to make the most of your hurry-up-and-wait time before your military move, then this post is for you.

We’ve known California is our “final” destination for this permanent change of station (PCS) for a while now, but until we have those actual orders in hand, we can’t get to the actual planning part of our trip.

(Once we have orders, that’s when things get set into motion—things like finding out when the movers will be here. Then, with that info, you can actually plan your trip to your next destination.)

So, while we hurry up and wait, here are some things that we can do to help that productivity continue on.

Things to do NOW While you Wait for your Upcoming Military Move:

Do you have an upcoming PCS? Here are things you can do NOW while you wait for your upcoming military move.

Start Making Lists

Get a specific PCS notebook for all the lists you’re going to want to make. I put all of my lists on the “notes” feature on my phone, but before that I’d find a bright notebook so I wouldn’t lose track of it. Black tends to blend in, so brighter is always better in my book.

If you think of something you need to do before you move, write it down immediately so you don’t forget.

I personally like having it on my phone, because if I’m out and about and think of something, I always have my phone with me. Here are some of the lists I have going:

  • Things to sell (furniture, appliances, vehicles, etc.)
  • Things to take with us—anything that won’t be packed (bedding, a few toys, some kitchen tools, our important notebook, etc.) I keep all of my to-do lists on my phone.
  • Things to do before we move (get my daughter’s birth certificate, landscape/clean-up the yard, find a realtor, etc.)
  • Things to do when we get to our destination (switch over Tricare, find new doctors, etc.)
  • Bucket List before we leave (favorite restaurants, favorite destinations, etc.)
  • Bucket List for the new location (all the fun things!)

The last list is my personal favorite, because it gets us thinking about the future and making exciting plans for what we’re going to do when we get to our new place.

Purge, Purge, Purge

You know you’re leaving, so start figuring out what you do and don’t want to take with you.

If you’re moving overseas, for example, you’ll want to leave your washer and dryer right where it is, but if you’re doing a CONUS (within the continental United States) military move, your options are a lot broader.

Decide now what big items will stay behind; now is the time to start doing a deep spring clean.

Unless you’re a minimalist, we all have too much junk on hand (especially if you have kids). Go buy some trash bags in bulk at Costco and start throwing all that crap away.

When you’re doing a military move, the company hired will literally come into your house and pack every single item in boxes, sometimes in one day; they get in, and they get the job done. They won’t hold up an item and say, “Keep, throw, or yard sale?” EVERYTHING goes with you.

So, before your move becomes official, start the purging process. Get into every room and decide if it’s something you want to keep, toss in the trash, or try to get rid of.

[RELATED: Decluttering: How To Get Rid of All Your Stuff]

Have a Yard Sale


If you have time (and the patience), consider having a yard sale to get rid of all of your extra stuff.

Granted, if you’re short on time and don’t need the money, but definitely don’t want to keep the junk you’ve accumulated since your last move, then donate it somewhere like your base’s Airman’s Attic.

Here’s a list of places you can sell your things if a garage/yard sale isn’t an option for you.

Figure Out Your Current Housing Situation

If you own a house, now is the time to decide if you’re going to get it up on the market or rent it out. Either way (this goes for renters, too), start fixing your house up so it’s in that like-new condition.

A new family will be coming in to live there, so if there are projects you’ve been working on or things you’ve “been meaning to get to,” make a list and start checking those projects off it.

Finding good realtor or property manager is actually easier said than done—they’re not all created equal, and they don’t all have your best interest in mind.

The best way we’ve found people is by word of mouth.

Ask around. Talk to people. Post questions about selling/renting your house on Facebook and soak in the responses. Yes, everyone has an opinion, but you really want someone you trust in this position, and we’ve found that word of mouth recommendations are usually the best.

Figure Out Your Travel Plans

Do you have an upcoming PCS? Here are things you can do NOW while you wait for your upcoming military move.

This is my favorite part of a PCS, because unless you’re moving down the road, you’re going to have to get in your car(s) and drive a little bit. And 9 times out of 10, it’ll be through another state/country.

The military will pay part of your mileage to get to your next station, as well as a per-diam for the days they allot for travel. Figuring out your travel situation can be stressful, which is why starting it BEFORE you’re in the midst of the crazy move is ideal.

First things first: make sure you and your partner are on the same page as far as how you want to get there. Do you want to just get there as fast as possible, or do you want to take the relaxed route and make a vacation out of it?

This will set the tone for your trip, and it’ll help you figure out how often and where you’ll be stopping every night.

[Tweet “About to #PCS? First things first: make sure you and your #milspouse are on the same page. “]

If you’re going on a legit road trip (like almost a vacation), skip Google maps and use Roadtrippers. It’s like Google, but with an added bonus of telling you everything and anything around the area you’re traveling. (Like this random giant Van Gogh picture in Goodland, Kansas).

As far as where you’re going to stay along the way, check out places like TownePlace Suites by Marriott that basically cater to you, the military traveler. If you’re traveling with kids (and a pet), a suite is absolutely the way to go. Since you’re basically homeless when you’re in route to your next destination, places like TownePlace Suites make you feel like home.

They have living areas, a kitchen with full-size appliances, cookware, dishes, and utensil (great for keeping on a budget so you don’t spend your cash eating out), free breakfasts in the mornings, and pools that are excellent incentives for kids to get through just one (or three) more hours in the car. Been there, done that; seriously, don’t forget to pack your swim suit!

[Tweet “Traveling with a pet or kids? PCSing or going on vacation? Stay in a place like @TownePlace! “]

Think About Your Animals

Make room for your pet!

Just because you’re PCSing doesn’t mean you can leave your furry friend back at your old place. Please, please, please take your family pet with you. There are even affordable pet-friendly hotels so they can stay with you, too.

[Related: Going on a Road Trip with a Dog]

I can’t even explain how excited I am for the move. There’s so much gearing up to do in the next couple months that boredom isn’t an issue.

Are you in the midst of a move? Do you have any tips on things to do before the big day? Leave them in the comments!

This post is brought to you by TownePlace Suites by Marriott, but as always, all opinions are completely my own.

Are you PCSing soon?


  1. These are great tips for any move! We haven’t had to PCS yet, but we’re in the process of moving and it’s a beast! Something that worked well for us (because we were in a time crunch and were just moving across town) was to pack everything as is and then we’ll purge as we unpack in the new house.

    1. That’s a good idea, and I’m still we’ll still purge once we move into our new place, but with two kids I’d much rather get rid of as much stuff before we move…especially for the bigger items! Good luck with your move, too!

  2. I am so excited for you guys! You are going to love California (aside from gas prices and crowds, lol). I wish you were being stationed up north, but still, southern California is amazing! that road trip site sounds awesome, I’ll have to check it our. And I love Marriots! They are the best!

  3. I am totally in full on purge/organize mode. Since we’re moving back to the mainland, most of our research is online or from what I remember about living in Colorado but I can’t wait to get going. Hubs got his orders like a month ago and I’m like “let’s go nooowwww!” 😛

  4. The end of your “PCS Travel Rainbow” has a prize. San Diego is awesome. Your plan to get there is great. You did an awesome job sharing the steps of prepping. Fair winds!

  5. So many great tips! We dont even have our new orders yet and I’m already thinking ahead to our next move haha he’ll probably PCS in August and I’ll follow behind after my dad’s wedding in September. But I’m already making lists and getting organized so that everything is good to go when he returns home from Japan lol

  6. Great tips! We’re already well into our move this year and we’ve done most of what you recommend 🙂 Great post!

  7. We know that a PCS is coming up in the not so distant future for us so we are slowly starting the purge and reorganizing process. There is the stuff you toss before you move and the stuff you toss while unpacking. I always go though it all again when you put it away wondering why you didn’t go toss/sell it in the first place.

  8. These are great tips! Neither my husband nor I are in the military, but I can definitely use some of these ideas before we decide to move. Our current least is up the end of June, but I think we’re going to stay one more year. I have a ton of decluttering to do!

  9. I like the idea of making bucket lists for your current location and future location. What a great way to spend the time while you wait! This sounds like there’s a lot to keep you busy during the “hurry up and wait” period. My fiance and I have one year left at our current station. I’m sure I’ll come back to these tips this time next year.

  10. I have traveled with my dog quite a bit and find Marriott hotel pet policies unfriendly. A $100 no refundable cleaning fee on top of the hotel cost is a lot of money! I have found Best Western hotels to be the most welcoming with pets. They charge a refundable pet charge instead of taking my money for no reason.

  11. HELP, my husband is in Airman’s week right now which means we have a week until tech school. If it’s over 20 weeks, i can go with him but i’m freaking out. I don’t know his orders yet because I don’t have contact with him! I don’t know what movers to call or what to even expect! I would be so grateful if one of you “seasoned spouses” could give me some tips!!! I’ll leave my email so PLEASE feel free to email me and give me some tips! I have so many questions! -Courtney

  12. I like the way you elaborated on your detailed to-do lists of things to do when making a military move. I can definitely relate to this as my father used to work in the military, and boy we just keep moving each time my dad is deployed on a military mission elsewhere. You made a good point of getting at each side of the room to identify things to keep and to let go. A garage sale sure is a helpful means of letting go of the unnecessary and useful stuff, while earning some on the side. One main point of the discussion when spinning up is the house you will be moving. Looking for a realtor that specializes in military relocation should do the trick to ease the worries of frequent moving; this I have to make a note of since my hubby is undergoing training for the military. Thank you for these!

  13. I think you make a very good suggestion about working on your travel plans. As you point out, if you’re being relocated to another state it could be quite a road trip. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure that you have your own route and plan mapped out as well as get in touch with the moving service to find out how and where your stuff will be moved.

  14. I like the tip of making a list of a bucket list for the new location you are moving too. I think that if you are going to another area it would be good to immediately see all the good things there, and how fun it can be before you even go. I think that this is good advice for anyone that is relocating, not just people in the military.

  15. This was AMAZING! I am a new military wife and doing our first move. This helped so much, just downloaded the road trippers app and I’m in love. Thank you for taking the time to write this out!!!!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I hope your PCS all works out 🙂 I have lots of posts about moving, so come on back if you need more help or have more questions!

  16. Yes actually moving is stressful work. I search on google for moving tips and i found your website. I read your blog and i get the some valuable tips on moving. I found this much useful tips. Thanks for sharing this so interesting post! I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.