I am so excited to begin sharing our big PCS (permanent change of station) move from Hawaii to Virginia. Spoiler Alert: We flew from Honolulu into Los Angeles, and drove for two weeks (over 4,000 miles) in an adventure of a lifetime on a cross country trip back to the east coast. I have too many wonderful pictures, beautiful locations, and other experiences to share and talk about just for one post, so I will be breaking up this move/adventure into several different posts in chronological order of our trip. So buckle up and get ready to hear about our exciting, but sometimes stressful, PCS adventure!
Let’s start at the beginning:
At 2 1/2 years into my husband’s tour at 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines, he had been selected for promotion to Captain and we knew that our family was going to be up for orders to leave Hawaii soon. We began to talk about “B-Billet” jobs and the possible geographical areas that we could be sent to. A “B-Billet” for Officers is the 3 year tour that follows their 3 year tour in an actively deploying unit like an Infantry Battalion. The entire process of not knowing where we would be sent next was definitely an emotional roller coaster. Officers have a career counselor called “the monitor,” (from what I’ve gathered, he’s essentially the Wizard of Oz that sits behind a curtain and decides the fate of your Marine’s career and where your family will have to move next). I was new to this whole military wife life and was super uncomfortable with the constantly changing word that seemed to be coming on just about a daily basis about when and where we would probably find ourselves getting stationed for the next 3 years! BUT as an experienced military wife knows (and I now know), you can never plan on anything with the military! Too many things are out of your control and EVERYTHING is ALWAYS subject to change. After we had many discussions and late nights spent weighing pros and cons of different jobs and places, my husband asked the monitor to be given an assignment in the geographical area of Virginia. We chose Virginia because it is where we are both from, and knew it was a great place to grow our own family in the near future. The monitor called my husband and told him that he had a platoon commander opening with the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team in Virginia! We were ecstatic! Our official orders had our family getting sent to Yorktown, which was not only close to both of our hometowns and families, but a great location.
Seasoned spouses know that you will need to coordinate the dates for your household good shipment through Move.Mil at least a few months ahead of your husband’s expected check-out date. Plan to have the movers come around 2 weeks before you are even actually leaving to take all your household goods and ship them out to your new duty location. This will give you adequate time to clean and prepare your home for the housing check-out process, as well as get a head start on getting your things to your new home at your new duty station. If you are new to it all like I was, then you can feel overwhelmed and frustrated at times because you have no idea what you’re doing, but that is ok and totally normal! I learned A LOT from this first PCS move and from some wonderful friends who had already done these moves many times before. They gave me advice, fed us meals, helped us out with watching our son while deep cleaning of the house & let us borrow items when we had nothing. I am not sure what we would of done without these special people.
Here are some tips of things you should do to prep for moving day:
- Separate the items you do not want the movers to pack (suitcases, pack-n-play, blankets, personal items, etc.) and put them all in a designated closet or laundry room with a sign on door so the movers know not to touch any of those items.
- (Only relatable tip if doing an overseas or moving to/from Hawaii) My neighbor gave me the advice to pack all your spices in a ziplock bag, put them in tupperware, and pack them away before movers come. Otherwise, they will make you throw them out. And if you are like me and had already invested in a bunch of spices for cooking, then you take her advice so you don’t have to buy all new ones!
- Wash sheets & bedding and either leave them folded on the bed for movers to pack or just pack them away yourself.
- Pre-pack any fragile or sentimental/special items if you’re worried that the movers will not do it well enough. They can be rough with your things so it is important to supervise!
- Meal prep prior to the move! This is something I didn’t even think to do at the time (but wish I had). There are so many great ideas on pinterest and instagram of simple, healthy meals you can pre-make & freeze to eat once all your kitchen supplies are packed away (and trust me you will get sick of eating out if you aren’t use to it).
- You can get loaner furniture delivered through the military housing office, but let me tell ya we thought it was awful! The kitchen table/chairs were useful to have for meals, but the bed was hard and there is an old plastic sheet covering it that you have to sleep on.
- With said tip above, borrow or invest in a quality air mattress and pillows, you’ll thank me later.
- Your family rates 5 days of TLA (temporary lodging allowance) between the time of your checkout from base housing and your family’s flight or husband’s unit checkout date, make sure you use it!
- When using TLA, Government lodging on base must be attempted first, if Government Lodging is not available for the dates your family needs, then you need to obtain a letter of non-availability from the BOQ manager stating that on-base lodging was not available in order to book a hotel off base at full cost to the Government.
- Your husband will need his official orders from his unit’s admin section in order to book your flight/travel allowances through the IPAC on your base. This should be done a month prior to your departure.
- Your family will rate the shipment of 1 vehicle from Hawaii to your new duty station, we coordinated this shipment through the base’s Distribution Management Office (DMO). A pretty easy and straight forward process, but since we own 2 vehicles we had to pay out of pocket to have our second car shipped by an outside company to California.
- On the day the movers come, be sure to have your children over at friend’s house. Too many heavy items getting moved about and nobody wants them to be in the way and get hurt! My husband stayed at the house supervising the movers working, and I got to spend most of the day at our awesome neighbor’s house with our son while he played with their kids!
- Lastly, take a goodbye picture of that house that you made a home for however long or short you were there. You will enjoy being able to look back on that house & reminisce on all the wonderful memories your family made there.
(Our last picture & goodbye to our house as we drove away)
After we got all checked out of our house, we used the first 2 days of our 5 day TLA to stay at the BOQ on base (You may remember hearing about the historic Five Palms BOQ previously on my Hawai’i base housing post). Also a little side-note, our two days at the BOQ occurred on New Years Eve/Day, so this is where we had our little celebration bringing in the new year. Nothing like a new year, fresh start eh?
(We spent NYE on the BOQ lanai with a bottle of Champagne)
We obtained a letter of non-availability for the BOQ to cover our last 3 days on island, we chose to stay at the Hale Koa Military Resort in Waikiki. There are a few reasons why we stayed here: 1. It was a close taxi ride to the Honolulu airport & both of our vehicles were shipped at this point 2. It is a military resort with affordable restaurants and amenities compared to most resorts in Waikiki 3. It was the start of our vacay & what better way to relax and spend our last few days than at a beautiful resort in Hawaii! When you first walk into the Hale Koa, you are greeted with an outdoor lobby area that is accompanied with a nice Hawaiian breeze & plenty of seating. Our hotel room had a balcony and ocean view, which was breathtakingly beautiful! The rooms are small, but still nice (rooms you would expect at a 3 star hotel). Although we barely spent much time inside the room because we were always outside relaxing at the pool, laying out on the beach, or grabbing a meal at a nearby restaurant. The Hale Koa has a decent sized gym, a couple bars and restaurants, a little exchange, spa, luaus twice a week, and pools/kiddy pools! OH and the entire resort is oceanfront property with a breathtaking view of diamond head! It is also centrally located near everything, so you can walk to many more restaurants and even do some shopping. You literally can’t be bored at this place.
(The view from our Balcony)
(The kiddie pool area)
(Outside area in front of small exchange)
(The Luau & yes I got dragged onto the stage to learn some hula moves)
I hope you all enjoyed and found this blog post helpful! I also hope it didn’t make you want a delicious Pina Colada with a flower in it like it did to me…why is Hawaii so far away!? Anyway just remember if this is your first PCS move or your tenth, it is normal to be stressed out at times, but try to make the best out of it and have some fun along the way! Life’s too short 🙂