It’s time for your first PCS move in the military. Maybe the military cut you some really sweet orders to a tropical paradise. Or perhaps they’re sending you to some godforsaken city you’ve never heard of out in the middle of nowhere. No matter where you’re headed, there are some basic things you can do to make your first move a success, and make some money on it too!

Make money off your move

When the military gives you PCS orders, they will pay for you to move. Typically, you can choose to do a military move (where an approved moving company packs up all your stuff and ships it to the new location for you) or you can move yourself in a PPM (Personally-procured move). If you’re moving out of a barracks room or an apartment, you probably don’t have much furniture yet, so there’s no need to get the military moving company. 

Instead, pack your things into your own vehicle and drive it to your next location. Not only will the military pay you for moving your own stuff, but there will also be a daily mileage reimbursement to cover gas and hotels along your route. If you crash at a friend’s house or do a few nights of camping instead of staying at a hotel, you’ll get to pocket that cash.

But you won’t get paid if you don’t do the paperwork! Before you move, go to your base transportation office and fill out the forms for a PPM. You will have to weigh your vehicle at a weigh station before you load it, then weigh it again when it is full of your stuff. That’s the weight the military uses to determine how much money you’ll get. They will also give you a travel allowance or a government credit card to use for gas and lodging, but you will need to submit a travel claim after you arrive at your new duty station. Save all your receipts during your trip and turn them in with your travel claim. If you skip these steps, you’ll be skipping out on a nice chunk of cash!

Make your move fun

Moving can definitely feel like a chore, but if you plan it right, it can become a fun adventure. Even though the military will pay to ship one vehicle to your next location, it’s a lot more fun if you drive yourself. Plus you make more money. Turn your move into a road trip! Map out some interesting sights to see along the way. Call up a friend along the route and ask if you can visit them for a night. You can even request a few extra days of leave to make your move into a little vacation. 

Never visited the Las Vegas before? Now you can! Always wanted to go camping at a National Park? This is your chance! (Service members get in free, so it’s totally worth it.) Consider inviting a friend to drive along with you. If you cover the gas, they can cover their 1-way plane ticket home, and you both get to have a memorable trip.

Get settled sooner

Moving to a new place can be intimidating, especially if this is your first time living far from home. But don’t worry, there are plenty of cool people to hang out with around your new base, and you’ll find a new group of friends soon enough. To speed things along, join online groups for your unit, base, or new town. You can find groups for every interest and hobby, from sports to cars to woodworking. Sign up for some classes at the base gym and see if you start recognizing regulars. Follow Instagram hashtags for your new town to find other people nearby. And don’t forget to update your online dating profile so you can find dates in the local area. The more you put yourself out there, the more connections you’ll make.

PCSgrades can make your move go smoothly by providing information about your new base and the surrounding area. Their area guides give you essential information about the cost of living, BAH rates, weather, and things to do in the area. They will catch you up on local customs and events so you don’t miss out on unique celebrations. And if you’re looking for a place to live on or off base, you can read their trusted reviews of housing areas written by fellow veterans and military families. 

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.