By Elaine Wilson, AFPS
June 3, 2010
This time of year is typically a busy moving season for military families. And no matter how seasoned a mover, each permanent change of station can seem like a daunting task.
I can sympathize. Although I’m no longer in the service, I moved three times during my eight years in the Air Force and once as a Defense Department civilian. While I’m certainly no expert, I did pick up some new tips and lessons learned along the way. I hope you find some of them useful:
1. Do a thorough spring cleaning before the packers come. Otherwise, you’ll end up with absolutely every item in your cabinets and closets, wanted or not, at your end destination. I could have done without the bags of outgrown clothing I forgot to give away and the piles of discarded fabric from a quilt project I never finished. The last thing you want to be doing upon arrival at a new destination is attempt to track down the nearest thrift store.
2. Whether flying or driving, don’t forget to bring some activities/toys for your kids. I made that huge mistake on an unfortunate flight from Turkey to Germany. I somehow managed to pack bottles and formula, but forgot to bring a supply of rattles and other distracters to the despair of my seat neighbors on the plane.
3. Save your receipts. It’s not so easy trying to remember how much you spent days or weeks after the fact. On a Defense Department-sponsored move, I had to wrack my brain trying to remember what my family ate at every meal a few weeks prior for an itemized worksheet. The receipts also will help you stay on budget. A good tip is to use one credit card for all of your expenses. That way you’ll have everything you spent recorded on a statement.
The Defense Department has a ton of great tips and helpful tools to ease the moving process. For instance, Military Homefront features a useful tool called “Plan My Move,” which you also can access from the Military OneSource homepage () You simply plug in your current installation, where you’re going and the date you need to be there. You’ll then be provided with a three-month calendar of steps you need to take for a smooth move.
The tasks are grouped by week and day, and include timelines for items such as planning your relocation budget, researching schools, househunting trips and tracking spending. If preferred, you can create a customized calendar.
Plan My Move also includes specific installation information, travel and arrival checklists, to do lists, and a list of documents to hand-carry.
If you prefer one-on-one assistance, you can call a Military OneSource consultant at 1-800-342-9647.
I’m sure these resources would have saved me a lot of unnecessary packing and nightmarish plane trips. I hope it does the same for you.
If you have any tips or lessons learned that you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate.