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Top 10 Tips for Packing Yourself for a PCS

Here at SpouseBuzz we’ve written a lot about PCS’ing. Whether we’re discussing the etiquette of tipping military movers or the possibilities of a PCS-induced case of control freak, it seems that movers are involved in many of those discussions.

Military families often assume that movers will magically appear at your home, pack everything you own with care, and whisk it all away to meet you at your next duty station.

But that’s not always the case.

Sometimes, like when you do a Do-It-Yourself or DITY move, you have to do all the work yourself. Including packing. And I can tell you from experience that those magical movers make it look way easier than really it is!

But there are some definite merits to DITY moves. (Click here for more on that.) So if you decide to skip the movers and do a DITY, make sure you have a plan going into it. And thanks to the sage advice from our experienced Facebook fans, we’ve come up with a list of top 10 tips for packing yourself up for a PCS:

Top 10 Tips for Packing Yourself for a PCS

1. Get organized. Facebook fan Sofia said that’s her best advice. Organization includes taking pictures of your more valuable items, saving money and bookmarking it for moving expenses, and keeping an inventory of your boxes.

2. Plan ahead. Time is another thing you have to organize. You probably don’t realize how much stuff you really have. And packing is very time-consuming.

As Elizabeth said, “Whatever time you plan on using to pack, double it.”

3. Do a pre-packing purge. A move is the perfect time to toss all that unnecessary and unused junk that’s been hiding in the attic and under beds and in kids’ drawers. As Amber A. put it, “Always purge before the move. Why pack/lift/move crap you don’t intend to keep?”

4. Recycle. If possible, stock up on boxes you don’t have to pay for.

“Get packing boxes and paper from people who just had their stuff delivered,” advised Megan. “Never pay for boxes unless you absolutely HAVE to. Make sure to remove their moving stickers though.”

“I get boxes from behind stores that recycle them,” Alicia said. “I go to the recycle bin and take a bunch.”

5. Choose packing materials wisely. Unfortunately, not all packing materials can be re-used like boxes. And not all materials are as good as others.

Nancy, who has done 12 (!) DITY moves, warned not to pinch pennies when it comes to packing materials, especially for precious items. But, “For some items, it is ok to use your towels and sheets,” she said. “Get plastic covers for your mattresses.”

Amber G. loves Space Saver Bags. “You can put way more stuff in your moving truck/POVs if you put all clothing, linens, and bedding in these bags! Walmart sells Magic Bags which are the exact same thing as Space Saver Bags and they are half the cost!”

“Rely on Scotch Stretch Wrap when you can!” suggested Facebook fan Amy. “We used it on our dressers and a couple toy bins and left the contents inside. Not only was it easy to move (without the doors flopping/sliding), but all we had to do was unwrap upon arrival.”

6. Pack strategically. Amy also color coordinates. “We used one color marker for ‘unpack right away’ boxes and another color for ‘when we get to it’ boxes.”

Amanda warned not to overstuff. “As tempting as it is to have fewer boxes, don’t pack them too heavy! #hellobackinjury.”

“Pack plates standing up,” Bonnie suggested. “Not laying flat.”

And Amber A. said, “We used the patterned duct tape- a different pattern for each room (blue for boys’ room, yellow for kitchen, etc.) on the outside of boxes. When we got to our new place we put a coordinating strip of tape on the doorway of the room that box went in. Use packing tape to close up boxes and just a strip of the patterned tape on the side/top of the box- it’s expensive.”

7. Get the kids involved. Kids love feeling helpful and being a part of the moving process.

Our experienced Facebook fan Amy also offered kid-friendly advice. “If young kids are involved, get them excited for the move and let them label their boxes or put a sticker of their choice on the box which identifies it as theirs.”

8. Accept help. If you have friends or family willing to put in the time and sweat to help you pack, then consider yourself incredibly lucky and accept without hesitation. As Elizabeth emphasized (with all caps) on our Facebook page, “DO NOT ALLOW YOUR SPOUSE TO TURN DOWN HELP!”

9. Look into PODS. That’s what Nicole suggested.

PODS can help with both your moving and storage needs. And guess what? They offer a military discount! Click here to learn more about the discount and click here to read about the services PODS can provide.

10. Don’t do it. Or, if all else fails, you could just follow the advice of several Facebook friends who advised to not even bother trying to pack yourself and enlist the help of movers. As another Facebook fan Amy said, “You will save your sanity!”

Have you ever done a DITY move and packed yourself? What tips would you add to the list?

About Heather Sweeney

Heather Sweeney is a Navy wife, mother of two, military spouse blogger, canine caretaker and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.