While the typical permanent change of station (PCS) season is usually well underway by the end of July, this year is anything but typical. As the moving process continues to shift thanks COVID-19, military families face more questions than answers. And like so much in military life, our best tips often come from those who have gone through a process or move before us.
For families PCSing overseas this year the changes and gotchas can be pretty drastic and leave you with few choices. When the green light comes to fly, what do you need to know? Army wife Missi Hayes recently moved from Hawaii to North Carolina with her husband and son, and learned a few things along the way.
Plot your course. Generally speaking, leave isn't authorized in conjunction with a PCS, so you have to drive straight there. Plan your route as efficiently as possible.
Assume masks are required. Some states have requirements, some don't. Some may change their rules overnight. Have one handy for everyone over the age of two.
Call ahead. Talk to the hotels where you are planning to stay to see if they are serving meals.
Related: Here's My 2020 Pandemic PCS Experience
Bring your own snacks. Hayes said that most airlines only have water available and aren't serving heavy snacks. She advised travelers to grab some options at the airport stores before boarding.
And bring your own blanket. Hayes also said there were no pillows or blankets available on her overnight flights. "Luckily I had a couple of inflatable pillows I had thrown in and an unused airplane blanket still in plastic from a previous trip," she said.
Network. Overall, Hayes' advice is to talk to people who have flown the same airline as you are planning to fly so you know what to expect. Use that military spouse network.
Pack disposable masks. Additionally, she found that having disposable masks for her son instead of a reusable one was key, especially for younger children who may drop them and need a quick replacement.
Figure out if you have to quarantine. While a restriction of movement may apply to those driving, getting off an airplane and going straight to a hotel for 14 days will require some advanced planning. Your local incoming duty station sponsor should be able to inform you of the current guidelines for your gaining installation.
Network, again. Hayes suggests reaching out to someone at the incoming installation for help or ideas on how to get food and other essentials while in quarantine. If staying off the installation, you may find it easier to receive groceries or food via delivery. On base may be harder.
This PCS will be one for the history books, we're sure, but it doesn't have to be disastrous. By planning ahead and taking extra precautions you can alleviate some of the stressors.
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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.