CamoI don’t know about you, but I love coffee. I usually drink decaf, but I still need that cup in the morning to get my rear in gear. Of course, that was always something I overlooked in my early PCS days, and cranky was not a good color on me mid-move.

No more! We have finally crafted our PCS bin (66 qt) that fits nicely in the car and has everything we want for those few days (or a ridiculous month and a half, as we had to wait on a recent PCS). If you’re flying, I would totally sacrifice a suitcase of clothes to include this as one of my checked bags (just remove the necessities, pack carefully, and duct tape it shut).  Of course you can hit the store once you arrive, but it’s things like these you may not think of, and it’ll save you from having to go BACK to the store every 5 minutes to get yet another phone charger.

  • Necessities

    • medical records, identification (birth certificates, ss cards, passports), marriage license – to prove you belong to this travelling zoo

    • orders and HHG paperwork from the moving company

    • previous/current lease and last bills

    • extra charger(s)

    • medicine (prescription and OTC)

    • a board game for when you’re bored (pun totally intended)

    • toilet paper, so you don’t have to call to your husband to run out to the car for the McDonald’s napkins that fell somewhere under the seat.

  • Dining

    • paper plates and bowls, plastic cups and silverware, or some cheap silverware and unbreakable place settings for your family (don’t forget coffee mugs!)

    • sharp knife, cutting board, wooden spoon, spatula, a vegetable peeler, a can opener, and a pizza cutter.

    • a large pot (with lid) and a large pan, a cookie sheet, and if you wish, a crockpot. (I get so sick of takeout from being on the road that upon arrival, I just want to cook something fresh! These items plus the above utensils should be enough for you to make almost anything, if a bit creatively.)

    • Brita pitcher/filter – sometimes the tap water is a nasty, super-chlorinated surprise

    • a dish towel for hand-drying dishes

    • cheap coffee/tea pot, filters, or a French press

    • baggies, aluminum foil, plastic wrap (or those interlocking Tupperware things)

    • corkscrew/bottle opener (should this be under necessities??)

  • Setup

    • flashlight(s), alarm clock, night light (if only to avoid groggily getting up to use the restroom and walking smack into an open door or a wall you forgot was there – trust the permanent dent in my forehead, people)

    • duct tape, basic tool kit, picture hanging kit (so you can set up all your new goodies from the IKEA/Target extravaganza before the truck arrives)

    • They won’t fit in the bin itself, but if you’re planning on “camping” in your empty house while waiting for your things, don’t forget a Pack-n-Play for little kiddo sleeping arrangements, and an air mattress for yours. And sticking a dryer sheet in a SpaceSaver bag with the bedding helps make it all smell like home.

  • Clean

    • 1-2 sponges, dish soap, all purpose cleaner, dusters, and a handful of dishwasher pods for running your dishes after they’re unpacked.

    • 1-2 rolls of paper towels

    • Febreeze, box of tissues

    • box of trash bags

    • small container of laundry detergent and dryer sheets/fabric softener; it really stinks to save your laundry (another pun, I’m on a roll!) until the movers bring your washer and dryer, and then you have to wait longer to wash because you need to run to the store.

  • Toiletries

    • toothbrush/paste, shampoo, conditioner, razors, etc.

    • hair dryer

    • hand soap, a hand towel, bath towels

Just take a day to think about what your routine is and what you may miss when you’re waiting in an empty house. It sounds like a lot, but I swear you can make it fit. I do recommend that you buy a separate item for as many things as possible on this list to be your specific “PCS set”, but that doesn’t have to be expensive!  Check CALL DIBS for neighbors getting rid of their 3rd can opener or the rest of their household cleaning supplies that the movers won’t take – most of these used items are even free! The dollar store has a lot off this list, too. And then when you get all your stuff, just put your “extras” back in the bin and stick it wherever you have space until the next move!


What else would be in your PCS survival kit?  Any other tips for those first few days?

Lydia DiCola Call Dibs Ambassador DC

Lydia DiCola
Call Dibs Ambassador DC

Written By :

Lydia DiCola is Call Dibs DC Ambassador, full time mom of three and Navy Wife of eight years. Lydia married her high school sweetheart, and has been stationed with her family at Gulfport, MS; Corpus Christi, TX; Mechanicsburg, PA; Iraq/Illinois (GSA); Monterey, CA; Washington, DC. She has a background in Elementary Education and additional certifications in 8-12 English and Physical Education. Lydia enjoys theme parties, cardigan sweaters, coffee, wine, Jane Austen novels, colored office supplies, and Friends trivia.