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Family Matters Blog: Tips to Ease Summertime Moves

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2011 – As our seasoned military families are keenly aware, the end of the school year typically marks the start of a high-volume moving season.

Service members commonly know the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as “PCS season,” which refers to permanent-change-of-station moves. Many families aim to move during that stretch of time to avoid disrupting their kids during the school year.

On average, the military moves about 600,000 shipments a year, and more than a third of those moves take place over the summer. John Johnson, the chief of the personal property branch for the Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, told me in a recent interview.

With this summertime surge in mind, I asked Mr. Johnson for his top tips to ease the moving process for service members and their families. His tips include:

– Stay organized. Create a personal moving calendar with checklists, phone lists, to-do lists, and links to critical moving processes and information.

– Find out options early. Contact your transportation office as soon as possible to learn about your moving options, including a personally procured move, former known as a do-it-yourself move, or DITY.

– Don’t hesitate to ask. It’s never too early to ask questions, and your transportation office is your primary point of contact for customer service.

– Start early. Once you get your orders and know the dates you want to move, immediately start the moving process. The sooner you start, the better the chance you’ll lock in the dates you want.

– Know your weight. Having a good estimated weight of your personal property and household goods is very important. An easy and dependable method for making this estimate is to figure about 1,000 pounds per room. Keep in mind this is only an estimate and individual shipments will vary.

– Don’t be a no-show. Pack, pickup and delivery dates are scheduled on weekdays. You or your designated representative needs to be available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You don’t want to miss your moving dates, as this will cause unnecessary hardship on everyone.

– Lock your move date in. Once you’ve selected your moving dates, don’t assume they’re set. Your moving dates are not confirmed until you coordinate with your carrier or transportation service provider.

– Be flexible. Moving in the summer months is extremely busy, with June being the busiest moving month of the year. Your preferred dates may not be available during this time. You will need to be as flexible as possible and always leave some time in your schedule for unforeseen circumstances.

– Lighten the load. Moving is a good time to dispose of unnecessary items. This will help avoid excess weight charges for being over your authorized weight allowance. You don’t want to ship and pay for something you didn’t want anyway.

– Reweigh if needed. You can request a reweigh of your personal property shipment at no cost. This is usually done when you are near or over your weight entitlement.

– Separate shipments. If you will have multiple shipments, clearly separate them at your residence. Multiple shipments should be scheduled on separate days to avoid confusion. You want the right items going to the right destination.

– Update contact information. Defense Personal Property System places you in direct contact with your carrier to manage the movement of your personal property. It is extremely important to ensure your phone number, email address and contact information is updated and current in DPS.

– Stay in close contact. If you have a delivery address for your personal property and want a direct delivery it’s important to work closely with your carrier or transportation service provider to arrange delivery. This will avoid your personal property being placed in storage.

For more moving tips or information on allowances and responsibilities, see the “It’s Your Move” pamphlet for service members or the “It’s your Move” pamphlet for Defense Department civilians. Or, visit the Move.mil website. For more information on planning summer moves, check out this Defense.gov article, “Planning is Key for Peak-season Moves.”

Military OneSource also offers families a host of online moving resources; Military Homefront offers “Plan My Move,” which features a moving calendar and travel and arrival checklists; and “Military Installations” links families to information about their new base and the local community.

Do you have any moving tips or lessons-learned you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to write in.

For more family-related posts, visit the Family Matters blog or check out Family Matters on Facebook and Twitter.

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