Do you hear that? The crackling sound of tape being unrolled.  The screeching of furniture dragging. The radio silence on your end while numerous movers shout out inventory numbers.

The chaos. The clutter. The boxes and piles in every direction you turn.

Sound familiar? It must be another PCS move! You’re not alone. My name is Athens E. Pellegrino. As a military spouse of 12 years who has completed 8 PCS assignments, I have discovered some ingenious items to make PCS less daunting.

Color Coded Room Labels

Color coded room labels can help expedite the unpacking process. As the packing crew assembles boxes, I label the outside with the appropriate sticker to dictate where the items belong. Prior to the unpackers arriving, I place a piece of construction paper corresponding to the labels on each room’s door. This way, as the unpackers are announcing inventory numbers, I can quickly direct them to the correct location. The more you can streamline the unpacking process, the fewer questions you have to answer. This lets you focus on the inventory numbers and the quality of your delivered items. 

Ziploc Jumbo Bags

I discovered these bags during the pandemic. I put kitchen items, clothing, toys, linens, etc. in them- basically anything that I wanted to remain disinfected. This was a major time saver unpacking because I did not have to reclean items. You can use these large bags to pre-pack household items, and the movers will place them directly into cardboard moving boxes. This makes unpacking go smoothly, because you can quickly unload the bulky items and get those cardboard boxes out of your house to be taken away by the moving company. 


Without tools, you can’t take furniture apart or reassemble it, and that can hold up everything on moving day. Oddly, you will never believe the amount of times I had movers forget their tools. I also am notorious for misplacing tools in the midst of chaos. A multi-tool is extremely useful to have on hand and clip to your belt loop. It also eliminates having to pack several tools aside and is small enough to throw in your car’s glove box when done.

Accordion Folder

All of our family’s important documents go into an accordion folder that I put in my carry-on during the move. I typically label the following sections: official orders (10 copies), insurance policies, utilities, inventory lists, dogs, travel documents, Power of Attorney, and POCs/important phone numbers. If you have kids, you will want extra sections for school paperwork and medical documents so they can get enrolled in new schools right away.

Crock Pot

Let’s face it, we all eat a ton of takeout during a PCS. While operating in chaos, cooking is the last thing on our minds. One of my favorite PCS Hacks is to pack up my crockpot and/or pressure cooker with spices, sauces, and utensils. I can fit this into my car to use for meals in hotel rooms or when we first arrive at our new home. I plan out a few simple meals that I can easily pick up at a grocery store or commissary.

I hope these Must Have PCS items can help make your next PCS more organized. All of the moving items above can be purchased on Amazon along with MISSION: MY FIRST PCS. I have created the Military Child Chronicles series to provide military families with comforting tools when facing the many obstacles within our lifestyle. 


Athens E. Pellegrino grew up in Ocean City, New Jersey. She attended St. Joseph’s University and obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. She met her husband Christopher while attending the university and married in 2009. After, she studied at Troy University and received a Master of Public Administration degree. Athens serves the United States Air Force as a Budget Analyst and military spouse. She has a love for travelling, cooking, dogs, and fitness.

Athens and Christopher have a son, Atticus (age 2) and daughter Callista (age 1). The family has experienced 7 Permanent Change of Station (PCS) assignments. The latest was 7 days after giving birth to Callista. Athens is intrigued by the strength and resiliency of military families, which led to her creation of the Military Child Chronicles series. The first book is, Mission: My First PCS.