How to Plan a PCS Road Trip

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You are stationed in New York, and your spouse gets orders to Arizona. Report date? June 15th! With your three kids, two dogs, and big old van, why not turn your PCS into a PCS road trip?

Sometimes when you PCS you will get on an airplane, and land in your new location hours later. You are excited about your new duty station, but the plane trip? Not so much. If you go on a PCS road trip, the actual time it takes to get there can be just as exciting.

When planning such a trip, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to make your trip successful. 

Check the routes

You know where you are and where you need to go. Check and see which route would be best. Is there anything you really want to see? Use to help you plan your trip. There might be a quicker way to get to your new city, but if you want to have a better trip, it might be worth taking a longer route to see landmarks and sights you never would otherwise be able to see. 

Watch the weather

Think about the time of year you are leaving and plan accordingly. You don’t want to get stuck in Colorado in January. If you do have to drive during the winter months, taking the southern route might be a better idea. Still, no matter what your route is, keep an eye on the weather and add in extra days just in case. 

Give yourself enough time

Your spouse has to report on a certain date, make sure you plan for that. Give yourselves a lot of extra time so you can enjoy the ride and not be rushed. Think about all you want to see on the way and plan accordingly. 

Stop early for the day

If you have kids, and pets, or even if you don’t, stop in the afternoon so there is time to go swimming, let the kids play on a playground, and have dinner together. You don’t want to pull into a hotel at 9 pm at night, still needing to find some dinner for the kids. 

Prep your kids

If your kids are old enough, prep them for the trip. Let them know your route and give them their own map. Let them help plan some of the stops. Bring “surprises” for them to open during the more boring parts of the drive. 

Have back up plans

What will you do if you have a hotel reservation in Utah but get stuck in a massive traffic jam while still in California? Think about back up plans, and make sure you have extra money to spend in case you need to add unexpected stops or if you have a car emergency along the way. 

Connect with friends

If you have friends along your route, see if you can see them. You might even be able to stay with them instead of a hotel. If nothing else, you can plan your meals so that you are able to meet up and connect, if only for a few hours over lunch. 

Don’t forget the snacks

You are going to need snacks, and many of them. You could always purchase them on the way but having a snack plan is a must. This will help if you still have an hour to go before it is time to stop for dinner and someone gets hungry. You also will want to have snacks for the hotel room or even for when you get to your new area. 

Plan for pets

If you are on a PCS road trip, you are going to have your pets with you. Make plans for them. Does your dog get car sickness? Does your cat suffer from anxiety in the car? Talk to your vet about what you might need and make sure that anywhere you will be staying allows pets. Some hotels and motels do not.

Pcsing across the country can be overwhelming but turning that trip into a fun road trip can be the way to go.

Have you ever gone on a PCS road trip? Where did you go?

Visit for your next PCS! You can find out information about your next duty station, read articles about PCSing, and more. 

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