I thought about writing this up myself but lately my thoughts aren’t coming out as coherently as I wish they would. I am truly starting to think that while I sleep someone is stealing the little amount of brain capacity I have left and stealing it. Anyways, Renee from 1-800-Pack-Rat was so kind to write it up for me to share with all of you. I can’t thank him enough. I truly wish I had some of these tips when I did my cross country partial DITY this year, alone with 4 kids, a dog and 2 cats. (Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that’s why my sanity is gone. Lol) Please take a moment and read this, it WILL be of use to you whether you are a “virgin” or a “veteran” at moving with the military.
Making Your First DITY Move
Moving is a stressful event, regardless of your reasons for moving. And when you are part of a military family, you move a lot. The traditional way to move is to have the government handle everything. The government will hire and pay for a professional moving company of its choosing to pack and move you. An increasingly popular option for ambitious military families is the DITY move (the government now calls it a personally procured move). The reason for that is not because doing a move yourself is all giggles and lollipops, but because you can actually make money if you do a DITY move right. The government will reimburse you for about 95% of what it would have cost them to hire a company to handle your move. You can either hire a moving company of your choosing or do it yourself via a self service mover, rental truck or your personally owned vehicle. Before you decide to do a DITY move, there are a few important things to consider:
- Make sure you are authorized to do a DITY move.
One of the first things you want to do when you receive your orders is make an appointment with your transportation office on base. The counselor at that session will go over your moving options with you. There are some locations for which a DITY move is not recommended. The government will not reimburse you if you did not receive the proper authorization to do the move yourself. Make sure you submit all the necessary paperwork within the deadlines.
- Carefully examine your budget.
Although you will be given an allowance when you do an authorized DITY move, you will still have to pay a lot of expenses out of your pocket at first. If you do not have the available funds or are not comfortable paying for things and waiting for the reimbursement, it is best to have the government handle your move.
- Make sure you and your family can handle a DITY move.
Regardless of how attractive that reimbursement estimate is, make sure you and your family are up for the emotional and physical strain of doing a move yourself. It takes a lot of coordination, planning and work. Do not do it if it will create strife within your family.
- Always know your maximum allowable weight limit.
The government will not pay to move anything above that limit (which is based on things like rank and number of dependents), whether they or you are handling your move. That limit will be given to you at your initial transportation office counseling session.
- Lighten your load.
Do not spend money, energy and time packing and moving things you do not need. Donate those items or hold a garage sale.
- Make a To Do list.
It may seem like you won’t forget anything, but you will. When things get chaotic as you near your moving date, it is easy to forget even the most obvious of things. Draft a moving check list and it will help keep you on track.
- Get your personal paperwork in order.
Make sure you have orders, passports, birth certificates, shot records and other important documentation you will need. Put it all together in a file and put it in a safe place, so it doesn’t accidentally get loaded with the rest of your belongings.
- Document everything.
Take photos or video of your belongings before you pack them.
- It is never too early to start packing.
Start with things you do not use everyday or that are out of season. Make sure you have plenty of boxes and packing materials, so you do not procrastinate.
- Come up with a packing plan.
Pack room by room. This will prevent things from being scattered in various boxes, which makes unpacking less frustrating. It also keeps you focused.
- Label EVERYTHING.
Label your boxes clearly with the room in which they belong and what is inside them. This will make life easier both while you are packing (you can immediately tell what has been packed) and when you unpack. Clearly label essential items (such as bedding) with “open first.”
- Make a box of essential items.
Toilet paper, diapers, cleaning supplies should all go in this box. You won’t have to run to the store or spend time looking for those items when you are unpacking.
- Use suitcases.
Pack what you and your family will need for the last few days before the move, the road trip and when you first arrive at your new assignment. This will allow you to completely finish packing.
- Keep an inventory list as things are loaded.
The easiest way to do this is to simply number your boxes.
- Come up with an unpacking plan.
When you are surrounded by boxes, you will want to crawl away and hide. Knowing what to focus on will help give you a kick in the pants. Make all the beds, so you know you at least have a place to rest your weary heads. Many people then focus on getting order in the kitchen and the kids’ rooms.
1-800-PACK-RAT is a moving and portable storage company that has proudly helped families with their military moving and storage needs between deployments, when they PCS and when they retire and separate from the military.
Call one of PACK-RAT’s Military Moving Specialists at 1-800-MLT-PACK or visit http://partners.1800packrat.com/militarymoves for more information.