This post is sponsored by Lincoln Military Housing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Constant moving is part of military life. It can be exciting yet nerve-wracking for your military family to pick up and move on to your next adventure. Whether it’s your first or seventh permanent change of station (PCS) move, being prepared and staying organized is essential to keeping sane during PCS moves.

7 ESSENTIAL TIPS for your next pcs

1) Research ahead
Find out all you can about your next duty station: where to live, where the best schools are, how the job market is doing, etc. The FRG leader or Ombudsman can help guide you. There are also many different military-associated groups on social media for you to ask around. There are some for active duty, spouses, families and more. Knowing where you want to live is a great jumping off point.

2) Plan for your journey
Think about how soon you want to be there. The service member has a check in date to his or her new command. The family will still have to think about how early they want to arrive in order to househunt, move in, job hunt, and/or get the family settled. Do you plan to do it yourself (also known as a DITY move) or hire movers? Do you plan travel by plane or take a road trip? If you plan to live in military housing, contact the housing representative to determine eligibility and wait times (if there is any. When we moved into Lincoln Military Housing, they let us know about the wait list and I was able to call and get updates as we got closer and closer to moving.

3) Get measurements
If you already have a house waiting for you at your new duty station, be sure to find out inside measurements for your new home. These measurements will help guide you on what to bring with you and what to leave behind. If you opt to live in military housing, they can provide a floor plan for you. Lincoln Military Housing actually has everything from floor plans to neighborhood guides to pictures and videos for you to help prepare you to move in.

4) Purge Before Packing
Once you have the decided what you’re taking, it’s time to purge the rest. Categorize your household goods (HHG) into four piles: Keep, Sell, Donate, Discard. In terms of the timelines, get rid of your “sell” items first, by holding a garage sale or conducting private sales. Whatever you don’t sell, move to the “donate” pile. Be sure to get a receipt if you donate to an organization (it could help during tax time). Finally, whatever you weren’t able to donate, recycle or dispose of it properly.

5) Take Photos and Videos
When you have your “Keep” items selected, take lots of photos and videos. You’ll want to do this especially for the high value items. For electronics, include pictures of any wires, cables, accessories, and also of the serial number. If you’re hiring movers or doing a partial DITY move, you’ll want these photos and videos on record of your items just in case something happens to them. Make sure the inventory list that the movers fill out is accurate and legible.

6) Decide on Your PCS Budget (and stick to it!)
The service member may receive a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to help offset the expenses of relocating your household due to a PCS. DLA is intended to partially reimburse relocation expenses not otherwise reimbursed and probably will not reimburse ALL of your relocation expenses. Therefore, stick to a budget for cleaning expenses, food, and perhaps temporary lodging. If you are renting or in military housing, you can ask the community manager for pre-inspection for move out so you’ll know how much to budget towards cleaning up your house.

7) Set Aside Your Documents
During this time, it helps to create a storage or organization system for your PCS move. Most people use a binder or folder to keep all documents in check. You will want multiple copies of your orders as well as a place to keep your personal documents (social security cards, certificates, titles, etc.) with you during your move. If you hire movers, make sure that they are aware not to pack that binder.

What are your tips for a successful PCS move?