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Military PCS: 9 Items You Need When Moving

What’s worse than exhaustion after a full day of moving? Not having clean sheets and …


What’s worse than exhaustion after a full day of moving? Not having clean sheets and towels when it’s finally time to rest or shower. Unfortunately, a permanent change of station (PCS) means temporarily being without your things. 

During a military PCS, your household goods (HHG) move separately from you. Time without them ranges from a few days to weeks. Thankfully, you can pack whatever you can travel with to your new location. Be sure to remember air mattresses to sleep on and paper plates to eat on. Have clothing and toiletries for each person, and don’t forget personal items. 

There are some other important things to keep with you when you don’t have your HHG! 


Regardless of if you live on base or off, you’ll need tools during a military PCS. A basic tool kit should do the trick. You won’t want to buy more when you realize your tools are in the moving truck. With a new home comes new furniture. Be sure to at least have a screwdriver, measuring tape, and hammer. 

Air fryer 

Takeout gets old (and expensive!) quickly. But without dishes and kitchenware, meals get tricky. A gadget like an air fryer is very useful during a military PCS. It can cook many things, is easy to use, and doesn’t take up much space. Which is especially important if you’re staying in temporary lodging with a limited kitchen. 

Medical items

A medical kit is necessary during a military PCS. Don’t forget about individual prescriptions and everyday care. You never know when you’ll need a bandaid or Tylenol during a stressful PCS. Be sure to add shot records of everyone in the household. Pets, too!

Here are some things to include in your kit:

  • Tweezers
  • Gauze 
  • Ace bandage
  • Pain relief 
  • Instant ice or heat packs 
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer 

Need some ideas on what to include in a first-aid kit? The Red Cross has several resources. 

Cleaning supplies

When you arrive at your new home, you may not know what to expect. Of course, you hope the previous tenants did some cleaning, but there’s a chance you’ll at least need some disinfectant wipes. Of course, you can buy cleaning supplies at the store when you get there but it’s good to have the basics right away.

Here are some things to include:

  • Dish soap
  • Paper towels
  • Disinfectant wipes/spray
  • A duster 
  • Plastic bags
  • Hand soap
  • Rags
  • Magic eraser
  • Trash bags
  • Toilet paper

Include a dust buster or handheld vacuum if you can fit it. This helps with crumb control if your large vacuum gets packed away. Also, try to do a deep clean before your HHG arrives. It’s much easier to clean an empty house before setting your stuff down. 

Somewhere to sit 

Before your larger furniture arrives, you’ll likely want somewhere to sit down. The floor is an option but it’s not always ideal. Pack, borrow, or buy some camping chairs. These take up a minimal amount of space and having them allows a spot to sit comfortably while you live in an unfurnished home for a bit. 

Things to entertain the kids

Don’t forget about the kids! Before their toys arrive they might clamor for something to do. Sure, having an empty house to play in is fun but try to have a bag or bin with some toys. Consider things that don’t take up too much space. Balloons are a great option! Head to your local dollar store for coloring books, paper, crayons, and stickers. This will help keep them occupied while you get the lay of the land. 


Sheets, hand towels, and bath towels are also items you’ll want to have. When you’re without your HHG, you may not think about all daily-use items. So be sure to pack some for the first night in your new home. 

Don’t forget to double-check if your new home has an enclosed shower. If it doesn’t, pack a shower curtain so you have one right away.  

A Place to Store Important Documents

A military PCS involves a lot of documents. Paperwork can get lost in a shuffle and you’ll have a lot of important paperwork. 

You’ll want to have a safe, waterproof place to keep documents. Use a file folder, binder, or container to keep these safe. The container doesn’t matter, as long as it’s accessible during the move. Consider putting an AirTag in whatever you use. This makes it easy to locate during packing and moving. 

Some important documents to remember: 

  • A copy of orders
  • Birth certificates
  • Medical records
  • Marriage license
  • Mortgage/home buying documents 
  • Vehicle registration/titles
  • Home inventory
  • Insurance documents

Special Items 

While movers ‌take care of most items, be sure to set aside irreplaceable ones. These could be anything you don’t want movers to lose or damage. These can also be items to make your new home feel more comfortable on arrival. 

If you have children, set aside comfort items like stuffed animals or special toys. It’s an important effort to make a new place feel safe and comfortable for them. Especially during a transition like a military PCS. Having something they’re familiar with helps the transition to their new home feel smoother. 
Moving is stressful. Living without your belongings can be frustrating. But a military PCS is always an adventure. It might surprise you how resourceful you can be when you’re without your HHG!

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