PCS Tips To Always Be Military Move Ready

 In Military, PCS, Zero Waste

PCS Tips To Always Be Military Move Ready

Any seasoned mil spouse can probably tell you a tale of a PCS when they had a less than an ideal timeframe to prepare for a move.  I know some spouses who only had weeks, or days to prepare. Unfortunately, it is a part of the nature of the beast when it comes to the military lifestyle.  Things happen and to make sure that we’re battle ready, sometimes billets need to be filled quickly. Our job is to be ready on the homefront for whatever comes our way.

Over the last five years, we’ve done 4 moves with two being OCONUS and we just got orders for our next duty station.  Yes, friends that math equates to five moves in six years. Throughout these moves, I had to figure out systems that would allow us to be PCS ready at any given moment because, let’s be honest… we were constantly moving. Here are a few of my pro tips that will hopefully help quel some of the PCS crazy.



 Let’s be real for a moment here. We accumulate a lot of stuff.  I recently tried taking up the zero waste lifestyle to combat this (that’s a whole other category of this blog though) and it changed my perspective on what we actually need.  This past move, I decided to put a box in each of our closets so that if we find something that hasn’t been used in a while or no longer “sparks joy” as the Konmari method suggests, it goes in the box.  When the box is full, I seperate between what needs to be donated and what can be thrown out.

I did something similar in my kitchen. I was shocked how many doubles of things I had. Who needs four vegetable peelers?  Also, why did I have four? I don’t even peel vegetables that often. These are the crazy questions you’ll be finding yourself asking….I promise.

*PRO TIP: Save yourself a trip to the local thrift shop. Keep Amazon boxes and fill them with donations and send them off for free!  Click here for details. 


Imagine… it’s PCS-eve and you can’t find Suzy’s birth certificate, Johnny’s passport or your Fido’s vaccination records.  Panic mode hits because your pack out is tomorrow and you still have a long to do list that needs to get accomplished. Sounds stressful right?  Fortunately, there is an easy fix. When we lived in the US, our documents were scattered all over our house.  It was not a good system. It wasn’t until I was prepping for our first overseas move, that I purchased a file box to sort and file all of those miscellaneous documents that seemed scary to throw away, but didn’t have a home.

Once I was finished sorting and filing things, I took our essentials (passports, birth certificates, social security cards, health records, pet health records) and moved them into a smaller file folder I used to house all of our PCS documents (power of attorneys, household goods documents, car records, etc…).  Post PCS, the file folder stayed intact and been a lifesaver when we move. It also gives me piece of mind, that in case of an emergency, I can just grab that one folder with all our essentials inside, and be out the door. Read more about what I put in my PCS binder here.


Our first move overseas was to Rota, Spain.  We were beyond excited, but the process of getting there was crazy. We decided to only take essentials, and rent a furnished apartment since we weren’t sure if our American furniture would fit in an apartment in the area we wanted to live.  The two months before the move were insane. I had been given a ton of extra responsibility at work, so I was stretched professionally. My husband was gone on the ship getting her prepared to homeport shift to Spain, so I was left to handle the PCS preperations solo.  The biggest hurdle was sorting our belongings into “bring,” “storage” and “pitch” categories.

In a way, I was almost happy he was gone because our stuff was EVERYWHERE. Until one day when I hit a breaking point, and headed to Walmart (in tears) and purchased $100 in plastic storage containers and a label maker.  When I got them home, I was able to pull things out of closets, guest rooms, drawers and cabinets and put like things together and then label the bins. Friends, this was a GAME CHANGER. Those bins still save me to this day. The biggest pro is that they gave things a home. I have a hats and scarves bin, an electronics bin (you know… for all those random cords that you’re not sure what they go to, but you know the moment you throw one out, you’ll need it), an events bin (for those stupid costume things that you want to throw away, but know the moment you do, you’ll need them for something)…you get the point.  Get the bins, you’ll thank me later.


I know it’s tempting… you just watched extreme couponers and want to build your stockpile.  Unfortunately, that’s not always the best money saver when you know you’re going to move often…or unexpectedly. Instead, keep one backup of the things you use most like toiletries, or cleaning products in one spot.  This way, when you’re running out, you can grab the back up and add the product to your shopping list. I like to use the app Wunderlist, because it’s free and not only can I have as many lists as I want, I can organize them into folders and share with others to collaborate on things.  Which brings me to the next tip.


This app is a life saver.  It’s not only one of my favorites, but also Matt Mullenweg who founded WordPress, one of the most influential companies in the internet realm.  So you know it has to be a good tool.  Any who…like I said above, it is FREE which is always a plus in my books.  However, the best thing about it, is that I always have a running PCS to do list, and best practices list.  This way, when I think of something, even when it’s six months out from our PCS, I can add it to the list.  This centralizes the information so that things are less likely to fall through the cracks.

Another amazing feature is that you can share lists with other people. My husband and I have a shared “PCS To Do” list.  We usually use it the month or so leading up to the move when we’re in full logistics mode. This way, we can both add things and check them off as they get done. It’s also handy for lists that get used over and over again, like unaccompanied baggage necessities.  Get it… you NEED it!


If you haven’t noticed, the overarching theme here is systems.  You need systems in place to keep things organized and the wheels on the wagon, folks.  These are starters for you, but the one thing about the military spouse community is the level of ingenuity and innovation, so if you have a system that you’ve implemented to keep your home constantly PCS ready, PLEASE share.  We all need a little help when it comes to the craziness of moving.


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