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 Personally Procured Move (PPM), also known as a 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 PPM moves. So if you decide to skip the movers and do the work yourself, make sure you have a plan going into it. And thanks to the sage advice from our experienced Spouse by Military.com readers, we’ve come up with a list of top 10 tips for packing yourself up for a PCS:
8 Tips for Packing Yourself for a PCS
1. Get organized. 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.
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.
4. Recycle. If possible, stock up on boxes you don’t have to pay for by getting packing boxes and paper from other military members who recently had their belongings delivered. Keep an eye on your local base Facebook group or freebie pages to find people looking to get rid of them.
5. Choose packing materials wisely. Unfortunately, not all packing materials can be reused like boxes. And not all materials are as good as others. While it can be OK to use your towels and sheets to wrap some items, you’ll want to make sure you have good bubble wrap for breakables or plastic mattress covers where appropriate.
6. Pack strategically. If you’re packing yourself you can be strategic about where your items are stashed, using color-coded tape to make which box goes where very visible. Systems like the Stressless PCS kit also help you clearly see where items belong and what is in each box.
7. Get the kids involved. Kids love feeling helpful and being a part of the moving process. Let them help you pack and unpack their rooms, and let them label their own boxes when it makes sense.
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.
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