Most people know that PCS season can be a stressful one. For those who do not know, a PCS is a Permanent Change of Station. It means that you have received that little piece of paper that changes your whole life. Your family is going to pack up, load up and move to a whole new town, state, or even country!
There are a couple of things that you can do to get ready for the actual move, to make things a little but fun for the family.
First of all, spend some time on Google Earth. When we PCSed from North Carolina to Alaska, I had plenty of notice that this PCS was coming, so every evening after the family was in bed, I spent time planning. Once I had a copy of the Milepost (THE Alaska travel bible of the Last Frontier) I mapped out where we would make our stops along the way. After I had determined where our stops were each night, I searched for grocery stores in each town. You see, we were camping the entire way there, and I would be preparing meals on the little stove in our camper – so we would need to get supplies every couple of days. I used search engines to locate grocery stores in the town. Then I used Google Earth to actually see the roads and where the stores were. I used GE as a tool and studied it diligently. We made a 6,000 mile trip with no wrong turns, no wasting gas and time driving all over the place searching for stores or our campgrounds – it was flawless! I knew exactly where everything was before we ever arrived in the town.
Another thing that I did, and you can do, is explore your new home town with Google Earth. I learned my way around Fairbanks, learned how to get from Fort Wainwright to the stores off post, and all of main roads in town. Using the Street View option, I was able to put myself there and visualize what everything looked like. When we actually arrived, it was like we were returning visitors, because we knew exactly where we were going.
Another cool feature about GE, is that there are photos of locations and sites that have been uploaded by users. Special events, tourist spots, pretty parks and destinations are documented in photos right there on the map, you just click on the little “photo icon” to view them. You can sit down with your family and explore the new town that you will be living in, and see all of the totally cool stuff that they have to look forward to! Help build that excitement about the good things that they will experience.
Now for the trip itself. If you are traveling stateside, chances are you will be driving to your new home. If you are, you may want to find things to break up the trip. Little things that you can stop and stretch your legs for.
You know how you always hear about those crazy tourist attractions or silly things to see? Ever wondered how people find them? Well there is a great website for doing just that. When we made that epic PCS trip to Alaska, we were on the road for 3 weeks. That is a long time to be in a vehicle. So I spent a little time on this website, called “Roadside America.” It lets you search for neat things to see along the way, and if you sing up with an account, you can even save and download lists of things that you want to see. Roadside America also has an inexpensive app ($2.99 at the time of publication) that you can download to your smart phone, and find things as you travel along.
We had a blast with this, and saw the Jolly Green Giant.
The SPAM museum.
The Corn Palace
Even a jackalope!
There were many other fun, interesting and just plain silly things that we saw along our trip. If you have some extra time on your next roadtrip – whether it is a PCS across the continent, or a trip to visit family members, these fun memory-makers are a great way to break up the trip.
Make PCSing an adventure!