6 Things We Learned from our PCS to Alaska
Another year, another PCS season. In our short time with the military, we've managed to experience two of the most popular types of moves in just a year. When we did our DITY move to Georgia, I shared some lessons we learned so I figured I would do the same to talk about our experience getting moved by military movers to Alaska. Mostly so I could make a list to remember what to avoid next time LOL.
Part of military life is learning to adapt to new challenges and an ever-changing climate. Military life also doesn't stop or slow down because you've got personal things happening. So our PCS to Alaska with a fresh baby was higher stress than our previous move from New York to Georgia. Not only were we moving with a baby but we were moving 4,000 miles across the country with three animals and a baby. Oh, and we had like a week notice of our confirmed moving date and our house was packed two days before us leaving the state. It was a hectic couple of days but I think we're all better because of the experience. Plus, I can share our list of lessons with all of YOU in the hopes that you don't make the same mistakes we did and have a way more efficient move!
If you have additional lessons you've learned from PCSing, leave them in the comment section below for others to read!
Make a list of your High-Value Items
When our packers finally asked us about our high-value items it was 6 pm and all of us, including Jasper, were exhausted from a long day of packing and moving around the movers. One of our packers approached us with an iPad in hand and asked us to list our high-value items. We each listed off a few things we could think of off the top of our heads but I quickly realized that there was no way we were going to come up with a comprehensive list of all of our most valuable and most important belongings. If I could go back, I would make sure we had a list prepared with all of our high-value items in advance. That way the list could be provided immediately to the packers. Not only could we not remember everything but watching the poor girl scroll through the endless list of our belongings on an iPad was a frustrating experience, to say the least.
Set all High-Value items in one location
In addition to making a list of all of our high-value items, the next time we move I will make sure to set aside all of our high-value items in advance for the movers. That way I can provide them with a list and specifically point to all of the high-value items and watch as their being packed, at the beginning of the day, before anyone is too exhausted to care. Since our camera "went missing" at some point during the pack-out process, I hope that tackling the high-value items right from the beginning will cut down on the chance of something like this happening again. Additionally, this method along with the list will allow you to mark which specific boxes high-value items are going into, making the claims process potentially easier if something was to happen.
Ask friends and family for help if you're overwhelmed
Another thing that could have helped our packing process would have been to have an extra set of eyes and hands-on sight. I was pretty occupied with taking care of Jasper and moving and removing to stay out of the packers and movers ways. I so wish we would have called one or two friends over to keep an eye on packers and to ensure that our stuff was being handled properly. Thankfully the camera "missing" seems to be the biggest issue from our move but I think having more people there who were able to fully pay attention to what was going on could have saved us a lot of grief.
Pack more than what you think you'll need
Now every time you move with the military isn't going to require you to move completely across the country and live out of a suitcase for a month. But sometimes, this might be you. I think I did a pretty good job of packing for myself but I didn't realize how quickly Jasper would be growing out of things. Not just clothes but also things like his bassinet and swaddles. I would have packed our pack and play, the noise machine, and more clothes for him as well as an additional suitcase for household items (like a bottle opener).
Make sure your finances are set ahead of time
One of the biggest pains of our move to Alaska was the fact that our travel card didn't work. For some reason, it wasn't activated and we weren't able to get our dislocation allowance ahead of time because someone told my husband the wrong information and we waited too long. This made traveling extremely stressful because (at the time) we didn't have a physical credit card we could use for hotels (again, because we weren't planning on needing one). Luckily we were able to use the travel card to book rooms in advance but to check in to the hotels, my mom had to call ahead and give them her credit card. This resulted in my mom's information getting stolen in Atalanta. I don't ever want to experience that stress and anxiety again, especially when traveling with three animals AND a baby so in the future, we will be setting up cards WAY in advance of any move.
Invest in Amazon Prime
If you don't already have Amazon Prime you are seriously missing out. We've had it forever but I quickly realized how useful it was to have once we got our house. We had basically nothing except what we could carry and Jasper was growing rapidly and quickly losing interest in the little toys that we did bring with us. I was able to Prime a bunch of stuff for him, food for the cat, household items, formula, etc. with just a few clicks on Amazon. While it takes a few extra days to get up here in Alaska, Amazon Prime can especially help you out if you're moving within the lower 48. Plus, you get free movies and TV shows with Prime Video to hold you over until you can get cable set up.