You’re on the home stretch now, with your military move just days or weeks away. There are many moving parts to a military move, so we’ve put together some last-minute reminders:
1. Financial fixes. Decide how much cash you’ll need for your travel, and check expiration dates of debit and credit cards (and dependent IDs, while you’re at it). Get change-of-address details to your bank, credit union and other financial institutions.
2. Find those records. Create a binder with copies of the permanent change-of-station orders, birth certificates, Social Security cards, passports, mortgage documents, rental agreements and other important documents. Put it in an area set aside for items you don’t want packed, along with jewelry, uniforms and similar items that are valuable, or that you’ll need on the road, or need before your household goods arrive at your destination.
3. Clean up. One of the biggest issues for packing crews is that the service member isn’t ready, said John Becker, a retired Air Force master sergeant who is vice president of military policy for the American Moving and Storage Association. A cluttered residence can delay the move, Becker said, and unsanitary conditions — roaches, for instance — can bring the packing to a halt.
4. Seriously — clean up. Make sure outdoor items are ready to ship and free from dirt, nests and other material. Throw out trash: As countless military families will attest, the packers will pack trash.
5. Scale down. Have you already cleared out items you no longer want or need? If not, consider a sale (garage, yard or online), charitable donations, or maybe a slightly used gift for a friend.
6. Mixed bags. Use zip-closed plastic bags of various sizes for drawer contents, small toys, spices … even the contents of your medicine cabinet.
7. Movie magic. Take pictures and/or video of everything in case you have to file a claim. Recording setups -- the back of TVs, for example-- will also help you reassemble your entertainment complex or furniture at the new location. Don’t forget the walls, floors and appliances — film them before the packers arrive so that you’ll have documentation if dents or scratches appear later.
8. Stake your claim. If you’re not happy with something the packers or movers are doing, contact your base transportation office immediately. If you don’t agree with everything listed on the inventory list, write your concerns in the “remarks” section.
9. Give some TLC. Packers can make sure your breakable stuff has the best chance of arriving unbroken. Many military families offer the them doughnuts and/or lunch, and keep the fridge stocked with water and other beverages.
10. Know when to get help. Four words no mover wants to say on the big day: “Wait, where’s my cat?” Pets may be distressed and bolt out the door as packing crews come in and out. Young children may react poorly to seeing all their belongings packed away by strangers. You need to focus your attention on those who are packing.
Ask a friend to take care of your child for a day, or arrange for child care. Before the children leave the house, let them select some of their must-have toys to take with them, and secure them in the “Do Not Move” area.
Pets should be out of the house, if possible, Becker said. There have been cases where animals have hidden in the furniture, and were wrapped and loaded into a container bound for overseas.
Ask a trusted friend or two to come over while the packers are at work, especially if a spouse is deployed or otherwise unavailable. Having extra eyes on the process in different rooms is a good idea.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.