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What to Do When Your PCS Gets Stressful

PCS mover on truck ramp

I sat in the back of my SUV melting in the hot, steamy June sun. We were at the end of our two-day pack out, ready to say “goodbye” to Fort Campbell, Kentucky and “hello” to Anchorage, Alaska. We planned to make the trip by car, meandering over America and through Canada until we reached our new Alaska home.

Getting ready for that kind of trip meant lots – and lots – of planning. With so many parts of any PCS completely out of your control, it’s important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row about the things you can control. That means taking time to think through some of the “what-ifs” and coming up with some just-in-case solutions. Need some help? That’s why we’re here.

Here’s what to do when your PCS gets stressful.

If you get in a car accident during your trip. Let’s be honest: bad things happen, and they don’t care if you’re PCSing or not. Getting in a car accident is really going to jack up your PCS plans, it’s true. But things can be a tiny bit better if you have great car insurance to make sure you’re covered. Consider adding a few nice-to-haves ahead of time to your policy like road-side assistance and rental car coverage. You don't have to keep them forever, and it may not cure a PCS accident problem, but it could sure make it easier. Click here for more information.

If your lodging plans fall through. Behold, an actual photo of the terrifying place we stayed in Canada when it was raining with a high of 45 degrees and we gave up on camping, but found out all other hotels were full.

Camelot Motel Horror movie material.

OK, it was much better than it looks – plus the rate was good and they allowed our dog. But we were definitely unprepared for the possibility that the weather would be terrible and we would want a hotel instead of a tent campsite.

How to avoid that problem? A little planning ahead would’ve done the trick. Don’t wait until the last minute to book a hotel – figure out where you would stay if you had to, and make a reservation. Many hotels have a cancellation policy that gives enough flexibility to make this possible. For example, even with a 24-hour required cancellation, I could’ve looked at the weather ahead of time where we were planning to stop for the night and seen whether not I would need a campsite or a real roof.

If you get sick on the road. You just know you’re going to get sick the hot second you’re stressed and have no bed to call your own. And it’s not like you can just make an appointment with your doctor – you’re in the process of moving, after all. The good news is that, thanks to a recent Tricare change, you now can drop in at any Tricare-approved Urgent Care two times each year without a referral. PCS plagues, be gone.

If your stuff gets stolen. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard stories of people who have had all of their stuff stolen out of or off their car during a PCS. Most of the time the problem starts when they leave their roof-rack full of their belongings overnight in a hotel parking lot. But sometimes protecting yourself isn’t as simple as making sure your stuff is behind a locked door. That’s why when we moved, we held onto our renter’s insurance policy which covered our possessions even while they were in our vehicle. Learn more about that here.

If your family is driving you crazy. About halfway through our 20-day road trip I sat in the passenger seat, looked at my husband who was minding his own businesses while driving, and said “WHY ARE YOU SO CLOSE TO ME?” It was an honest question — after that many days in the car I was in some serious need of alone time and space.

The truth is that no matter how much you love your family, you’re going to want some time to recharge, especially if you’re not used to such tight quarters and all-the-time-family-time. Fortunately, I had packed some workout clothes and shoes and could spend some time away from them while I hit the hotel gym. Another time I left and did a quick solo peanut butter resupply trip at a nearby market. Just those few minutes alone was enough to get me off the crazy-ledge. No matter what you do, make sure you have a plan to take care of yourself during your journey. Things will stay a lot less ugly that way.

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