Available technology makes it easier than ever for military families to learn about their duty station. But searching on Google alone won't cut it. That's where social media swoops in to save the day and can make you an expert on your new neighborhood before you even get there!
Hack №1 -- Pinterest
I'm sure I don't need to tell you how awesome Pinterest is for gathering and storing information in one place, but it is also a great tool for moving that shouldn't be overlooked. As soon as you get orders to your next duty station, create a board on Pinterest titled with the name of your new duty station. Then start gathering pins related to the base and the area.
The best part about this? Many other military spouses have already traveled down the road you're on. So it's likely they've created or shared pins related to your duty station already. What's better than collecting information curated by someone who's been in your shoes?
Hack №2 -- Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to geotag photos without actually using your GPS or "checking in" anywhere. Any time someone posts a picture to Instagram and adds a hashtag with a location that will be searchable by you (depending on their privacy settings).
So to start getting a visual idea of what your base and the surrounding areas look like, you can go on Instagram and start searching hashtags. Start by searching "#YourDutyStationName" (as in #FortHood). This will show you what real people are doing in the area and what they think about it.
A word of warning though: Take the comments and captions with a grain of salt. Everyone has a unique outlook on life so their comments might not be very objective.
Hack №3 -- Facebook Pages
I'm guessing that any time you receive orders, you immediately hop on Facebook and join the local spouse page at your new base. While there's nothing wrong with that, there's so much more to Facebook pages than just the spouses' groups!
Search for your duty station's official base page! That's going to give you accurate information about the base, the facilities and events occurring on base. This is the best resource for official points of contact. And chances are they'll have photos of the base amenities, too!
Search for the local MWR, A&FRC or FRG page and follow them. The folks who work in those organizations are typically super helpful and regularly push out important information. Connecting with them on Facebook will allow you to get a jump start on your burning questions before you even PCS!
Hack №4 -- Snapchat
This one may sound a little goofy since Snapchat is used for more personal purposes (like sending funny photos of your face switched with your cat's to your best friend). But it can also be used to help you discover more about your next base.
Ask a friend to start sending you snaps of the area. That way you'll begin to find out what there is to do, what places look like, if there's a Target (or more importantly a Chipotle) and what to expect once you finally arrive.
You can also ask a friend to send you snaps from inside a property you're interested in. They can store those snaps in their Story so you can review them over and over throughout the day. If they're uncomfortable keeping those photos on their Story all day, ask if you can set a time limit for how long they'll leave those snaps up. Once the time limit expires, they can delete those snaps from their Story, easy peasy.
Hack №5 -- Facebook Live
Facebook Live is a fantastic tool for checking out a potential property. You can reach out to a friend and ask them to create a Facebook live video for you. They can set their audience for the video to just you so you're the only one who can view the video.
They can then create a video while walking through a potential property. They can talk about what they like, don't like or anything that stands out. The best part about this tool is, once they're done filming, they can save the video to their timeline (where only you will be able to see it!), and you can go back and review the video over and over again.
This makes it easier than doing a Facetime video with a friend and frantically trying to take notes while also trying to watch everything they're showing you. This also helps you avoid the Facetime/video call barrier if you have phones that aren't compatible.
Researching your next duty station doesn't have to be all work... it can also be fun! By using the five tools above, you'll get a fuller sense of what your next installation looks like and what life will be like on your next adventure!
This article originally appeared on the Millie Journal.
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