You know how each military move comes with a lot of expenses? Let me tell you, it gets a lot more expensive if your movers pack away things you need during transit and you have to buy replacements. You could, of course, keep the expense down by uncomfortably doing without. But your best bet is to plan ahead. Let’s talk about that.
Once you know where you’re going and when, start thinking about what you’ll need during the time it takes for your household goods to be delivered to your new home. You’ll want to set aside those things so they don’t get packed with everything else. Not just the obvious things like passports or daily medications, but also things that seem less immediate.
If you’re moving stateside-to-stateside, especially if you already have your next lease signed, you may only be looking at a week or so between packing and unpacking. That makes for relatively easy planning. But if you’re moving overseas, or returning from an overseas assignment, it will be at least two months before you see your stuff again so there’s a lot more to consider. Weather, for example.
Let me tell you what happened when we were stationed in Cheyenne, WY. We got orders to Germany while my husband was deployed. I sold our house (yay!) in a week (double yay!) at asking price (triple yay!). This was at a time when houses in that area were sitting on the market for 3-4 months so I was super happy with how smoothly ours went. Except that because of the market, I had put the house up for sale early and the quick sale meant I had to vacate it three months before we would actually depart the base. When the movers showed up at the end of October, it was a gorgeous sunny day. They packed up everything but what I had set aside and loaded the crates the next day. I moved into TLF*, so proud of myself for handling everything and remembering to keep my husband’s Playstation, and very pleased that my own things would fit in just two suitcases to make travel easier. Two weeks later, it snowed. A foot of snow on the ground, and all my boots were in crates somewhere on their way to Germany. In my infinite wisdom, I had thought about travel time and completely missed the three months of living through a Wyoming winter. So yeah, don’t do that. Think about the weather between moving day and when you’ll get your household goods again, and plan accordingly.
* (Temporary Lodging Facility = furnished apartments for transiting personnel with families)
Besides weather, you’ll want to consider your activities, too. Are you going straight to your next base or will you be taking leave en route? For hiking, you’ll need appropriate gear. For sightseeing, at least some comfortable shoes. What else will you do? Think about it and prepare for it.
We usually stay in TLF on both sides of the move so I don’t worry about things like towels or kitchen basics. But if your arrangements are different or if you have a must-have kitchen tool you use every day, definitely give this some thought too. There was a time, several years actually, that our daily breakfast included a chopped apple – you can bet your last dollar that my chopper was always with us (and surprisingly turned out to be an allowed item in carry-on baggage).
Long before moving day, consider the weather, your activities, and your personal preferences in deciding what you’ll need after the movers leave and until you get your stuff again. Keep these things away from the movers so they don’t get packed. Otherwise, you might end up without boots on snow day. In the next post, I’ll share some tips for moving day so check back later in the week.