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Editor’s Note: This article by C.C. Gallagher was originally published on the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) website.

Whether it’s your first move with the military or your 15th, here are five tips to get you ready for a PCS during the winter season.  

1. Toss, donate, sell or keep.

A great way to start cleaning out all of the “stuff” you accumulated over the years is to create four different piles or boxes labeled Toss, Donate, Sell or Keep. As you tackle each room, do your best to separate items into these four categories, and take an inventory for future reference. You will be much happier (and organized) when you receive your household goods on the other side. A minimalist attitude is the goal. Also, don’t forget to save the donation receipt(s) if you donate to your local installation thrift store or off-post companies (i.e., Goodwill, Salvation Army) to help with your end of year tax deductions.  

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2. Send boxes in advance.

If there are specific items your family cannot live without while waiting for your household goods to arrive at your new duty station, box them up and ship them ahead of time. If you are PCSing with children, designate a box for each child and have them assist you with this task. Items can include tools, weather-related clothing gear, special toys or stuffed animals, and sheets and bedding items. Another option is to take advantage of online companies like Amazon Prime to have the necessities waiting for you on the other side.  

3. Connect with your new community.

Getting connected with your new community is imperative prior to your move. Do you have friends, colleagues, or acquaintances located at your new destination? If so, reach out and ask for advice or information on your new area. Have you researched the official DoD Military Installations website to see what services are available to you and your family? Are there groups you can join on social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn? Conducting research takes time but will make your family’s move a little easier and will set you up for success.    

4. Make a vacation out of it.

If visiting friends and family is not an option during a winter move, consider planning a vacation for your family during this time. Options to consider include the beach, theme parks, or the mountains. If you are traveling by car to your next duty station, be sure to check out military-friendly deals that will keep you and your children occupied while your household goods get a head start to your next location. Use military-owned lodging, which will save our family money on travel expenses. Taking a vacation will give your family more time to spend together and can potentially be a cost-saving measure that can be covered by per diem and other moving allotments.     

5. Stay positive.

Moving is a stressful and difficult situation regardless of what time of year it happens. It is important to keep a positive outlook, stay flexible, and be open to change throughout the entire process. Make sure your children are prepared and involved in the process, understand what is happening, and are aware of where your household goods are moving to next. Try to create long-lasting memories along the way and create opportunities to explore new places, sites, and a fresh start to your new lifestyle.     

Additionally, to make moving a little easier for active duty military families, Military OneSource provides 24/7 assistance through Plan My Move and relocation counseling services. Also, the DoD, U.S. Transportation Command, and Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command created move.mil, an Internet-based system to manage DoD household goods moves.

Empower yourself with the right resources to ensure your family is set up for success.   

This article, “5 Tips for a Winter Military PCS,” originally appeared on the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) website. MOAA is the nation’s largest and most influential association of military officers.