Is Your Vehicle PCS Ready?
OK, if you are PCSing CONUS you will more than likely need to drive your vehicle to the next duty station. Is your vehicle really ready for this road trip? Whether one state away, or clear across the country, it’s very important to make sure you have everything you need in case of an emergency. Here are some tips to help make your next PCS a little smoother and safer.
1. I always head down to the local oil change station and get an oil change and let them know we are PCSing. If they are close to a post/base they will know what you need done to make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape. Ask them to : check the wipers, change oil (or course), top off all the fluids, rotate the tires, check the tire pressure, change the filters (if needed) etc.
2. I also go into the local auto parts store and ask the clerk to check the battery on my vehicle. If you have a spouse or if you are super handy and know how to do this, I have heard water and baking soda work… but I have no clue how to do that. Perhaps, you could Google it or watch a YouTube video. Personally, I will leave it to the pros.
3. I pack an Emergency Kit for my vehicle; you don’t need a fancy $100 kit, just use a shoe box and include the following:
~Flash light with extra batteries
~A warm blanket or two depending on how many people are in your family.
~Band-aids of all sizes, anti-bacterial ointment, alcohol whites or just some rubbing alcohol and a towel.
~Basic tools i.e. for if you have a flat tire
4. If you have a really cool “Roof-top cargo box” I would only fill it with your light bulky items. You don’t want the items to make your vehicle too “top” heavy.
5. If you do not have access to a GPS on your phone, I would consider purchasing an external one, and we always have maps in the glovebox just in case the GPS fails.
6. If you have kiddos in the vehicle make a game box with snacks, bottled water, juice boxes, anything you will need for a baby (extra formula), travel board games, a portable DVD player with at lest six DVD’s, and any handheld video devices. This will keep the kiddos occupied.
7. Plan… Plan… Plan! Always use that handy Google traffic device on your phone or computer before you leave the hotel every morning. You want to check road conditions, traffic, construction, accidents, etc. You do not want to get stuck in traffic for an extra five hours. You can try and avoid this before it happens.
8. If you have kiddos who are still in car seats. Take them to the local fire department and ask the firefighters to check them. You want to make sure all is good and ask them to check if they are buckled down correctly in your vehicle. If your kiddos are at the right age, take them with you, they will love to see the fire station and fire trucks.
9. Plan your route out before you leave the old duty station. I always map it out, make reservations ahead of time at the hotels we plan to stop at. (If you have four-legged kiddos check with the hotel on their pet policy.) Map out and mark gas stations, rest stops, fast food, etc. If you plan to stop for fun map that out too and account for time. PRINT OUT YOUR MAP OR LIST AND MAKE SURE ALL VEHICLES HAVE A COPY.
10. Make sure you ALWAYS have your important papers with you while you are PCSing. I have a folder I keep with me that has everything from our marriage license to the four-legged kiddos vaccination records. Also, make sure you print out everyones full names, ages, and allergies on a sheet of paper and place it in the front of the folder. I also add all emergency information as well on this paper i.e. my parents and in-laws names, addresses, and phone numbers. This way in an emergency all the information is in one place. If you are traveling with pets mark that on the sheet of paper as well. If you are in an accident a lot of times our four-legged kiddos will get scared and run. You want to make sure the police know you have pets in the vehicle.
These are just ten important tips to keep in mind when PCSing (driving from one duty station to another), and ideas for what you might want in your emergency kit. We often forget the importance of vehicle maintenance and everything we need to do to get it ready for a PCS. Stay calm, handle one thing at a time, and don’t forget to ensure your vehicle will be safe and ready for the drive.