Helpful hints for PCSing during the pandemic

Helpful hints for PCSing during the pandemic

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

With summer move notifications filling up email inboxes, it’s safe to say the impending permanent change of station (PCS) season is about to roar to life. Let’s be honest, there is nothing easy or simple about packing up all of your worldly possessions and heading to a new base or post, even if it’s just up the road. However, if you’re one of the lucky winners in the new assignment lottery, moving this year is likely to look and feel very different from ones in the past thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind as you start working your PCS.

Patience is key. I’ll be the first to admit that patience is not a virtue of mine. When our move notifications come in, I’m ready to pounce and get everything scheduled. Then I have to remind myself of one of the military’s most prophetic phrases, “Hurry up and wait.” New rules, extra precautions, restriction of movement (ROM) and possible quarantines are going to require you to dig a little deeper and exercise more patience and grace.

Everything is likely to take longer. Overseas moves take a long time, even in a normal year. It can be up to three months (sometimes more) before your household goods arrive. With manning shortages and reduced work shifts, this timeline may increase. The summer is the busiest time of year and the demand often exceeds the availability. Moving companies may have to reschedule packing and loading dates if they (or you) have been exposed to the virus. Your newly gained patience will definitely pay off.

Stick to the guidelines. The Department of Defense and CDC have come out with simple, yet imperative guidelines once the big day has arrived. Everyone involved (both you and the movers) must wear a face covering and keep as much social distance as practical. Keep cleaning wipes handy to wipe down frequently touched surfaces and be sure to practice good hand hygiene. The guidelines are in place to protect both you and the moving crew.

Know who to contact if guidelines aren’t being followed. If the moving company isn’t abiding by the health guidelines, you can put the kibosh on the process. You can advise them to stop what they’re doing until the situation is resolved. Contact the local traffic management office (TMO) immediately and let them know of the situation. A representative from TMO and/or the moving company will determine if corrective action is necessary.

Limit the numbers. Having someone keep you company can help while away the hours of packing and overseeing the move. However, now’s the time to limit the number of people. If your family or friends don’t absolutely need to be there, then they shouldn’t. Having as few people in your home reduces the possibility of exposure and also provides a little extra breathing room to get things done.

Check the ROM for your destination. If you were planning to take leave en route to your gaining installation, be sure to check the local ROM guidance. Many states and countries have strict rules requiring isolation or quarantine for a certain number of days. Depending on your location, you may be able to provide a negative COVID-19 test after a certain number of days to shorten the ROM duration.

Prep for isolation. If your new base requires you to isolate on arrival, prepare yourself ahead of time. If your lodging accommodations have a kitchen, ask your sponsor if they wouldn’t mind picking up a few essential items for you or if there are food delivery services available. Pack a few extra books, download games and ensure little ones have things to keep them entertained and occupied.

There’s no doubt moving during a pandemic requires logistical creativity. With a bit of extra planning and a lot of patience, you’ll be situated at your new location in no time at all. For more information, contact your local TMO office or visit

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