If you're new to Space A flying – or you're planning your first Space A flight with the kiddos – we've got you covered. Here are 11 important things you need to know about flying Space A with kids: how to plan, what to bring, and how to stay sane!

1. Every passenger must have a seat

All passengers traveling with you – even babies – need a seat. There is no such thing as a "lap child" on a Space A flight, even if you plan to hold your baby the entire time. When signing up for a flight, be sure to include all children in the passenger count.

2. Children of all ages need proper identification on a Space A flight

All passengers age 10 or older need a military ID card. Children younger than 10 need a passport or a MilConnect printout that shows their DOD ID number.

3. You have the option to check car seats

The Air Mobility Command recommends the use of car seats for children under the age of one, but they are not required. If you don't want to use your child's car seat on the plane, you can check it. Car seats are not included in your baggage count (two 70 lb bags per passenger on most flights).

4. You can bring extra infant formula, breast milk and juice

Military passenger terminals follow Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for those liquids. Declare them before going through security screening.

5. All passengers must have appropriate clothing

Closed shoes are required on all aircraft except for the Patriot Express. That means no sandals or Crocs. Depending on the type of aircraft and where you're sitting, the plane can be extremely cold or very warm. It's more often the former but dress in layers just in case. Remember that you will not have access to your checked baggage on a Space A flight– even if you can see it on the pallet in front of you – during the flight. Any clothing you may need has to be on your body or in your carry-on bag.

6. The aircraft is not a playground

If you fly in a cargo plane, such as a C-17, it's possible that there will be a lot of open space. You may be tempted to let restless kids run around, but it's not a safe place for that type of play. The aircraft has buttons, switches, cables, sharp corners, heavy metal rods, tie-downs, ladders, ropes, and military equipment onboard. It can be very easy for a child to get injured or tamper with something he/she shouldn't be touching. You can take advantage of the open space by stretching out and letting the kids play in the area near you, but keep in mind that you are hitching a ride with a military mission, and the safety and supervision of your children are your responsibility.

7. Bring ear protection

Many military aircraft are very noisy, and the flight crew provides ear protection for all passengers. They will give you a pack of foam earplugs that must be inserted into your ear. These earplugs aren't always very comfortable or suitable for small children, so it's better to bring your own ear protection for the kids. Headphones that connect to an entertainment option are a good choice and some kids like earmuffs!

8. Pack activities and snacks

Between the actual flight and the hours, you may spend waiting in the terminal, be prepared for a lot of downtime. Make sure you have movies downloaded to your tablet and plenty of books and portable games to keep the kids entertained. Also, don't forget about snacks. You can purchase a boxed meal for less than $10 per person on most flights, but you won't receive the meals until you're onboard. Don't count on the snack bar in the terminal being open; the flight kitchen's hours can be unpredictable.

9. Don't forget your sleeping gear

Bring blankets or a small sleeping bag for warmth and to help the kids sleep comfortably. Depending on the type of aircraft, passengers may be able to stretch out on the floor. In that case, having a small, easily-inflatable air mattress is very helpful.

10. If you're traveling solo, buddy up

Traveling by yourself with kids can be very challenging, but sometimes you don't have a choice. In particular, many unaccompanied spouses fly Space-A while their sponsor is deployed or the family is stationed OCONUS. If you see other Space-A passengers traveling with kids, ask if they want to pair up. You can help each other by watching luggage while one parent takes a child to the bathroom or nurses, by sharing games and activities, or simply by offering moral support. Having a buddy to navigate the journey with you can make a huge difference!

11. Don't be afraid to ask for help

Space-A travelers are a friendly bunch. If you can't find a travel buddy, don't hesitate to ask other passengers for help. Whether they're retirees or other active duty families, someone will be happy to lend you a hand.

You've got this!

That's a lot to remember, and flying Space A with kids may seem daunting. But with the right preparation and planning, it can actually be a much better experience than flying commercial. Keep in mind that you are avoiding one potential source of stress when flying on military planes: if your baby cries the entire time, you don't need to worry about disturbing other passengers. Between the noise of the aircraft and the fact that everyone has earplugs, no one can hear it!

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.com.

If you've never been to Japan, you're in for a treat – and maybe a little bit of culture shock. Everything about Japan is drastically different from the United States, from the customs, to the food, to the style of lodging. Getting the full Japanese experience is fun, but if you prefer having a few comforts of home when you travel, here are five Japan destinations that you can visit and stay on a U.S. military installation.

JAPAN DESTINATIONS NEAR A U.S. MILITARY BASE

1. FUJI

WHAT TO SEE AND DO:

Mt. Fuji is Japan's most famous mountain. To climb Mt. Fuji, you must visit during the short climbing season, which lasts from mid-July to early September. In other months, you can enjoy seeing the beautiful snow-capped mountain while exploring the nearby Fuji Five Lakes and visiting the Chureito Pagoda, a 5-story pagoda with excellent views of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding area. You can also taste Japanese Sake made with Mt. Fuji spring water at Ide shuzo Sake brewery or relax at one of the many onsens (hot springs).

WHERE TO STAY:

For easy access to Mt. Fuji, spend a few days at Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji. It's a small base in a very tranquil area about 2 hours southwest of Tokyo. The Mountain View Inn accepts space-A reservations up to 60 days in advance.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The Camp Fuji Trips & Recreation office web page has directions from various U.S. military bases as well as links to the Tokyo airport shuttle schedules. Pro tip: contact the Trips & Recreation office directly to find out if they have any scheduled day trips to Tokyo. You may be able to hop on one of their shuttles on its way back to Camp Fuji.

PCS to Japan

2. OKINAWA

WHAT TO SEE AND DO:

Okinawa has something for everyone, whether you're traveling as a family, a couple, or solo. With its subtropical climate and gorgeous beaches, Okinawa is a major destination for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and boating. You can find beautiful waterfall hikes, ancient castle ruins, and sacred shrines. The kids will love Okinawa's famous Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo park, while war history enthusiasts won't want to miss the Peace Memorial Museum. For hundreds of other ideas, visit Okinawa Hai, a website created by members of the U.S. military community.

WHERE TO STAY:

The U.S. military has more than a dozen installations in Okinawa, and most of them are clustered in the central part of the island. Kadena Air Base is the largest, and it's where you will land if you fly space-A. The two lodging facilities on Kadena Air Base are the Shogun Inn and the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites. You can also find lodging on other nearby bases.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Fly space-A into Kadena Air Base or fly commercial into Naha, the capital of Okinawa. Peach Airways offers very inexpensive fares to Naha from mainland Japan.

3. TOKYO

WHAT TO SEE AND DO:

We're talking about Tokyo, so take your pick! Whether you want to shop, visit temples and shrines, enjoy Roppongi nightlife, experience the famous Tsukiji fish market, or eat your way through the city, you definitely won't be bored!

WHERE TO STAY:

When visiting Tokyo, you couldn't find a nicer hotel for a better value than the New Sanno. It's easily the equivalent of a Hilton or Marriott in terms of luxury, but you can get a room for the whole family for less than $100 per night. The New Sanno is located in a prime area of Tokyo, within a couple subway stops of popular neighborhoods such as Shibuya, Ebisu, and Rappongi. The hotel has seven restaurants, an excellent gym, and a pool the kids will love. The New Sanno accepts space-A reservations up to 6 months in advance.

GETTING THERE:

The New Sanno has a shuttle from both of the Tokyo airports and Yokota Air Base. Their website also details public transportation options for other U.S. military bases in Japan.

4. HIROSHIMA

WHAT TO SEE AND DO:

The main attraction in Hiroshima is the Peace Memorial, which includes the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial Museum, and several other monuments. The island of Miyajima, only a short boat ride away from Hiroshima, is also worth visiting. It is considered one of the most beautiful sites in Japan, and its famous Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hike or a take a tram to the top of the mountain for amazing 360-degree views of Hiroshima Bay.

WHERE TO STAY:

Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni is approximately one hour from Hiroshima. The new Inns of the Corps has comfortable, modern rooms and a nice fitness facility.

GETTING THERE:

You may be able to fly space-A into Iwakuni. The base is also easily accessible by train from Hiroshima.

PCS to Japan


5. NAGASAKI

WHAT TO SEE AND DO:

Visit Nagasaki to see the powerful exhibits at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the Peace Park. You can also visit Dejima, the site of the former Dutch trading post and Japan's only international trading port for more than 200 years. If the weather is clear, catch what has been recognized as one of best night views in the world from the top of Mt. Inasa.

WHERE TO STAY:

Sasebo Naval Base is about 2 hours from Nagasaki. There are two lodging facilities: a Navy Lodge and a Navy Gateway Inns & Suites.

GETTING THERE:

You can take a train or bus between Sasebo and Nagasaki in under 2 hours. If you rent a car, the drive is slightly shorter, depending on traffic. If you're flying into the area from abroad, you may land in Fukuoka, the largest city on the island of Kyushu. From Fukuoka airport, the base operates a shuttle twice daily, but seats are space-A.

GETTING TO JAPAN

Wondering how you can visit all these great Japan destinations without breaking the bank if you're not already stationed in Japan? Fly space-A! Here's a detailed guide to flying space-A to Japan.

Staying on a military base while visiting Japan offers the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the beautiful sites of Japan along with the delicious food and the culture. At the same time, you can have comfortable lodging with familiar amenities at very reasonable prices. Traveling "military style" – using your military benefits and privileges to make your travel more convenient and affordable – is the best way to see the world!

This post was sponsored by PCSgrades.

By Allyson Miller

I am a Virgo who is married to a Logistics officer, so it should come as no surprise that we own a label maker, all of my spices are in alphabetical order and we have a moving checklist. Although we add to our checklist with each military move, somehow, we always end up forgetting something.

OOPS!

Halfway between Fort Lee and Fort Knox, I realized I had forgotten our son's medical records. I accidentally left my glasses prescription at Fort Leavenworth. And I can't tell you how many times we've ordered items from Amazon, only to have them ship to our old address.

There's a reason most civilians don't move every few years – it's a lot of work! Even if you remembered to pick up the kids' immunization and medical records, got the cat vaccinated, filled out the change of address form and made an inventory of your high-value items, did you retrieve everything you've loaned out? Check to make sure none of your credit cards will expire while you're traveling? Pick up all the dry cleaning?

DON'T CRY UNCLE!

I am currently one week out from the packers arriving and if it wasn't for the PCSgrades moving checklist, I probably would have thrown my hands in the air and gone out for margaritas.

Additionally, with every prior military move we've had at least 3 months between receiving our orders and moving. This time we had less than 30 days. So, when I saw the moving checklist, I printed it and immediately stuck it in my PCS binder.

After first glance, I felt a little faint as I realized we had bypassed most of the bold-faced categories: 3-6 months before your move, 2 months, 1 month. We were 3 weeks out and there were a lot of boxes to check off! It helped that this is a CONUS move, although we are literally moving from sea to shining sea.



USE A MOVING CHECKLIST

I had to start somewhere. So, I flipped to page one, 3-6 months before your move, and started working my way down. We didn't have 3-6 months, but if we were about to forget something, it was better to know now.

YA GOTTA LOVE MILITARY MOVING!

As it turned out, I had already done most of the 6 month, 3 month and 2 month tasks. But I always panic in the last few weeks. In the mad rush of picking up records, getting the oil changed and dropping off another pile of donations, I forget the other details. Put a checkbook in the PCS binder. Assemble the first night box so we aren't ripping into boxes in search of the paper towels. And now I'll download a Mover's Notice. This lets our moving company know up front we'll be reviewing their performance on PCSgrades after the move is complete.

The PCSgrades moving checklist addresses CONUS and OCONUS moves. Additionally, it is thorough without being overwhelming. It has helped keep me on track and calm. I know that if I feel like I'm forgetting something, I can just refer to the list. PCS moves are barely controlled chaos but at least now it's organized, barely controlled chaos. And that's good for everyone, even a Virgo and a Logistics Officer.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

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"RESILIENT" "FLEXIBLE" "MATURE"

Words often used to describe Military Brats. We talk about how moving around builds their character. We like their ability to make friends wherever they go. Do we do this so we don't have any guilt when we rip them from their lives and plant them to "blossom" at a new duty station? Maybe.

For sure, I can look at my two kids and see all the positives they've experienced from five PCSes in 10 years. My college-age daughter has written about how growing up as a military brat has served her well. Read her story here.

But there are instances which come to my mind where her life was not a bed of roses and those character-building moments were hard fought.

HOME IS WHERE THEY SEND US….

One moment that comes to mind is our move from the Army War College in Carlisle, PA to the Pentagon in northern Virginia. It was the summer between her fifth and sixth-grade year, a growing year for sure for a tween. She loved Carlisle. We all did. None of us wanted to leave and certainly not to return to the rat race of the Pentagon. But it is where the Marine Corps sent us.

She cried for weeks. We were "ruining her life." "Why couldn't Daddy commute to the Pentagon from Pennsylvania?" And the real kicker here was that I, the mil-spouse, with absolutely no say in where we were stationed got the brunt of her anger and despair. It wasn't my husband, the active duty spouse. Although, he didn't really have much of a say in where we were sent either. Sound familiar?

MILITARY BRAT UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS

There are definitely some downsides to living this nomadic military life. And certainly not every child 'blossoms' under all the adversity. I would say both of my kids benefited overall from all the moving, but like the experience detailed above, it wasn't always easy.

"I'm honestly tired of the unicorns and rainbows and portrayal of how 'wonderful and amazing' it all is," says a military spouse who answered our very unscientific poll on Facebook.

We asked people to define a military brat and describe the experience of living a military life. While some wrote how amazing they felt it has been for their kids. Others told of another side to military life.

"There have been many positive personality traits such as a great sense of adventure and worldliness, but also introversion, depression, lack of consistency in education, and lack of consistency in medical care," says another mil-spouse whose oldest has experienced 15 moves and three high schools over 24 years.

What is a Military Brat Exactly?

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Mil-spouse Carrie says moving every couple of years was hard on her kids. "I have a couple that are adaptable and resilient and two that are not. They don't like moving and want to go 'home'- stateside." She says every PCS is a struggle. "Eventually all the kids adjust, but it takes a lot of work from us and hopefully a good school and community."

A veteran says her children have suffered from depression at times. There was "physical abuse by a Family Care Provider while I was deployed the second time to Iraq. One was suicidal at age ten when I was deployed for a third time to Iraq, and then again while I was on my fourth deployment." This mom remembers her youngest "hated me after I returned from Afghanistan."

"I've got one in college and one in high school," says another mil-spouse. "My college kid would certainly tell you that while she is everything we've mentioned above, she traded it for not having 'roots' anywhere. She has lived a life of always having to reestablish herself." Her mom goes on to say she went through an introverted spell which eased a bit when she went off to college.

WOULD YOU DO IT DIFFERENTLY?

Dolli describes her daughter as adaptable and more mature than her peers. "She has a big worldview, but she's also an introvert so making and saying goodbye to friends has taken its toll."

"If I had known just how much it cost, I think we would have done things differently."

Susan, a mil-spouse and a military brat herself, says mil-kids are adventuresome, independent and fierce! "These kids understand what it means to follow something bigger than themselves and our family. They understand sacrifice." But she goes on to point out growing up military isn't a paradise. "Military kids are by and large awesome and yes, often gain wonderful strengths from their upbringing. However, these are hard-won gifts."

Many of those who commented on social media thanked us for posing the question but asked us not to whitewash the hardships while glorifying the benefits.


OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

As some pointed out, these kids have sacrificed so very much through no choice of their own. But, we all know, they are not perfect. They can, in many ways, be hurt as well as improved by their experiences.

Military life can be incredibly hard, and our mil-kids often feel the effects of the separations and the relocations. "I'm not saying it was all terrible because we had some wonderful experiences too, but we were exhausted by the time my DH retired," says one veteran military spouse.

Overcoming adversity seems to be a central theme for military brats. However, one mil-spouse questions whether the adversity is necessary. Referring to the military bureaucracy we've all had to face, this spouse says, "There was this emphasis on being tough which I thought sometimes became an excuse for not trying to make things better."

Perhaps one mil-spouse says it best about mil-kids, "Your roots are shallow and you are hardy, easily transplanted wherever the wind blows. There's a reason the dandelion is the flower of the military child."

We can only hope in the end, all the struggles and hardships they've had to face along the way give our military brats character traits which will help them thrive as they move into adulthood.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

It's been a doozy of a PCS season so far, with no end in sight. And while companies are responding in a variety of ways, ranging from blaming the trucking shortage and installation procedures, to apologizing for the delay, we really just want our stuff now. So as you are waiting on your stuff, or unpacking a hot mess, or even hanging out on your new neighbor's couch, here's a giggle for you.

MILITARY MOVING

1. AND THAT TIME THE PACKERS JUST DIDN'T SHOW UP…

military moving

2. WHEN YOU'RE WAITING FOR YOUR STUFF…

PCS military

3. OR FOR ANYONE TO CALL YOU BACK…

military PCS moving

4. WHEN YOU FIND OUT A FORKLIFT WENT THROUGH YOUR COUCH…

military moving

5. OR IT RAINED INSIDE YOUR SEALED CRATE…pcs military

6. AND YOUR MOVERS DROPPED THE PIANO…

military pcs

7. WHEN YOU FIND SOMEONE ELSE'S CLOTHES IN YOUR BOX…

pcs military

8. AND YOUR DOG RUNS AWAY WHEN THE MOVERS LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN…

pcs military

9. OR YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW SUGGESTS YOU STAY WITH HER WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR THINGS…

military moving

10. WHEN THINGS GET DELIVERED! …THE DAY YOUR SPOUSE IS SIGNING IN…

military moving

11. WHEN THE MOVERS ROLL THEIR EYES AT PIZZA FOR LUNCH…

military moving

12. AND WHEN YOU LEISURELY DRIVE ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND YOU STILL BEAT THE TRUCK….

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13. THE FIRST NIGHT IN YOUR BED…

pcs military

Have you had a humdinger of a move this year? Tells us about it on PCSgrades.com and let other military families know what to expect. And, go ahead, share your favorite GIF with us as well.

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.

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By: D'antrese McNeil

It's the infamous PCS, and that means preparing your home for the movers to come and invade. I'm kidding! If you're not brave enough to tackle and conquer doing a DITY (Do It Yourself) move, (I am NOT btw) then the military will send one of their contracted companies your way for a full on military move.

I know for us, we've always provided some form of nutrition for our movers. The way we see it, if we take care of them, they take care of our stuff, right? I know, I know, that's not ALWAYS the case, but we'd rather play it safe. I crowd-sourced a few Facebook groups to see how others responded to this topic.

DO YOU OFFER LUNCH OR SNACKS TO YOUR MOVERS?

Dave Etter: "Yes, and I always insist on a group pose with the truck. Evidence."

Alexandra Eva: "I always buy whatever meals they are there for, snacks and bottled water. Last time I made cookies and they asked for the recipe…ha-ha tollhouse. Lol."

Cassandra Bratcher: "Gift cards to a local liquor store and snacks Nothing broke when it arrived lol."

Elizabeth Strong: "We pay for lunch and tip at the end"

Alaska Amber: "Always! Snacks, water, lunch, whatever they need. And I always end up giving them a bunch of stuff. Before we moved to Alaska, I gave them my bedroom set, dining table, a TV, and even a sewing machine for one of their wives. "

MORE THOUGHTS ON FEEDING MOVERS/PACKERS DURING A MILITARY MOVE

Anna Blanch Rabe: "We do water and Gatorade on ice for all the days and then depending on the crew lunch (usually Pizza) on the loading/unloading day. We have tipped when they've done an awesome job, and we've also sent them off with a case of beer on occasion."

Jenah Wieczorek: "We buy lunch, snacks, and drinks but not breakfast. I'm assuming they eat before they come."

Sybil Jones: "It depends on their attitude. I'm serious. One set of movers that packed us (this move) were great. I offered lunch and drinks and tipped at the end. Our long-term storage items. Attitude from the jump. They got nothing. The delivery on this end, same thing. They took more breaks and had a 'tude from jump street."

Elishaba George: "I've always waited to see how they are doing their job… no rewards for a bad job. I've experienced two bad packers in 8 moves."

Michelle Suk Richardson: "I buy lunch and provide a variety of drinks-water, Gatorade, and some granola bars."

THE VERDICT

As you can see, the responses are mixed. I know for us when we made a military move to Korea, I'd bought the movers snacks and water. I had asked beforehand if they wanted anything and they didn't take any of it. Yet, when we PCS'ed out of Korea, the Korean movers expected it. Luckily, we had already planned on buying their lunch and snacks. When we arrived back stateside, we bought our movers lunch and snacks and gave them a little booze too.

So, I vote YES, feed your movers. It may help with them protecting your items a little better or it may not, but it can't hurt. However, I also do like the notion of being cautious first, as one person noted. People have so many allergies these days, it's kind of hard to buy something or cook something without the risk of potentially killing them or giving them an allergic reaction. Noted. Use your best judgment. Go with your gut when it comes to preparing snacks for the movers. What are your thoughts?

This post sponsored by PCSgrades.