Lessons learned from our first PCS

We recently completed our first PCS with the Navy… and survived. (Note: I could do a whole post on military lingo, but PCS = permanent change of station)

Our pack out day went like a dream and we didn’t lose anything in the move (huge since our stuff changed trucks three times and went into storage for a few days). From New York to Washington, every last item made it. I attest to the fact that I was diligent in my prep work leading up to the move. Keep reading for a few of my tips. 1-photo 1 (5)

The Good:

Take everything off the walls. Gather all picture frames in one place. Not only is it easier to pull out nails as you go, it also means pictures get packed together. This also makes unpacking much easier. I chose to put all picture frames from the entire apartment in one place since I like to change things up every time we move. If you like to keep each room together, you could have one spot in each room for wall decor.

Baggies are your best friend. Take electronics apart and put all cords in a labeled baggie. Pack all the loose things in drawers in baggies. Go ahead and put small, lose kitchen items in baggies. Ration out dog food in baggies. I even found 2.5 gallon bags at Walmart that I used to pack our suitcase.

Make a “do not move” closet. Everything in sight goes. It was so much easier to tell the movers, “if you can see it, it gets packed.” Pack out day would have been a nightmare if I was having to run around making sure laptops, cameras or jewelry boxes didn’t get packed. I think the packers appreciated it as well.

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Inside our “do not move” closet:
Air mattress (we stayed in NY for a week after our stuff shipped) – we ended up throwing it away because the car was too full.
Dog’s supplies (food, bowls, treats, car hammock…)
Hubby’s uniforms he would need right away in Washington
Moving Binder
Jewelry Box
Suit cases
Cell phones, computers, cameras and all chargers

I also put a “do not move” sign on the shower so we would have soap and shampoo for the week. We also put one on the fridge and washer/dryer since they came with our apartment. I would still keep an eye on the “do no move” areas though. We had a loader open the closet and let me know the packers forgot some. So maybe you should also tape the door shut?


Car hammocks for dogs are a must for long trips. We bought one off Amazon (here). This one worked fine for us because our dogs are on the smaller side. I wouldn’t recommend buying the cheapest one if you have bigger dogs. Each morning we could shake out the crumbs from the day prior so the car stayed clean. It also acted as a barrier (or head rest for Boomer) to keep the dogs in the back seat.

The Bad and Ugly:

Put all bras and panties in baggies so the movers aren’t packing them by the handful. I was sitting at the kitchen table watching our stuff go into boxes when a horrible thought popped into my head. The packer emptying our dresser is packing my bras and underwear by the handful. OMG. Next time I will put all embarrassing items into baggies or fabric bags to spare myself a red face.

Have food and drinks available. I will admit it. I honestly didn’t think that this was necessary and only did it because it seemed like all Navy wives before me had done so. However, I do understand the theory “treat your packers/movers as you want your stuff packed”. We bought pizza and had water available. Some other ideas are deli sandwiches or donuts. At the end of the day, it cost us a little money, but the packers and loaders were appreciative.

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Make arrangements for alcohol if moving in winter months. Nothing makes a wine collector’s (as in I like to buy wine) heart drop like hearing the words, “due to the weather, we can’t bring your liquids.” I ended up getting most of them in our car so all was not lost. If you have an extensive “liquid” collection, make sure you have a party leading up to your move. Or make other arrangements. Which ever you prefer.

Delivery Day Tips

Put down plastic to protect carpets. In-and-out-in-and-out makes for a mess and potential carpet stains. Our movers ended up putting down blankets because we live in the wetlands known as Bremerton, WA.

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Have a game plan for the new house. I thought we had a good game plan. I went over it with my husband and made sure he knew the this-will-keep-me-from-freaking-out plan. However, as soon as boxes came in our house quickly went from organized to this…photo 3

Our house is small, so I didn’t think to make signs for each door saying which room it was. If you have a large house, you might want to label “Ashleigh’s Room” on the door so you’re not having to say “the first room on the left” every single time a box comes in.

Most importantly… keep a sense of humor. Just as I was about to kick my family out so I could actually get something done, my husband pointed this out…
photo 1

It took us a minute to figure it out, but now I know where my vackem is to clean up the floors.

photo 4 (1)Yes, it is important to wrap every single shoe in three sheets of packing paper. While I appreciate the extreme care for my shoe-babies, packing paper took over our house for a few days.

We turned it into a game of “lets see how much paper they fit in this box.”


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