A Newbie’s Guide to their First Duty Station Move + a Moving Tip to Know!

PCS.

As a newbie military wife that little acronym may sound intimidating. But relax! There’s no need to worry about making the move to a new duty station.

To help out more, we are doing *A Month of PCS* here at The Real Sweetheart! Influenced by questions asked by newbie military wives, the site will have a month of tricks, tips, funny PCS stories and more!

Check out the schedule below to see what the month of May will consist of! We’re excited and hope you are too – Stay tuned every Friday!

Click on the photo below to see an enlarged version of the schedule!

pcs2

The Posts for *A Month of PCS*

Week 1 – The Basics to a PCS!

Week 2 – On or Off Post?

Week 3 – Who Moves Our Things?

Week 4 – Making the Move!

Week 5 – How to Relax During a PCS!

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movingtip1Moving Tip of the Day!

Tired of unpacking your things to find the box or bag soaked in shampoo, face wash, etc.?

Try placing plastic wrap over the opening of the container and replacing the cap over it! Creating a seal, the bottle is essentially leak-proof. SCORE. 🙂

Lauren

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A Great Escape – Army Marriage Retreat and Tulip Festival!

A Weekend Trip.

More pictures of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival below!

More pictures of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival below!

There’s something to be said about a spontaneous weekend trip. They are random, and fun, and stress-free. So when Blair’s platoon sergeant asked him if we wanted to fill in a couple’s spot at last weekend’s marriage retreat, we jumped on the opportunity to go!

The retreat was in Bellevue, Washington – an hour North of Fort Lewis and right next to Seattle. Our hotel room was a suite with a main room, great bathroom and HUGE king bed. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided. And the chaplain did a great job teaching the marriage course “Couple Links”. While the classes were something completely out of our comfort zones,  we ended up loving it and feeling even closer by the end of the weekend.

So extremely blessed to have the opportunity to go – even if it was planned at last minute! Thank you, Army! 🙂

After classes, we had the chance to go out on our own. We ended up going to downtown Bellevue and seeing Place Beyond The Pines (GO SEE THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW! – Seriously, it was so good!) and driving another hour North to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in the Tulip Town Mt. Vernon.

If you’re in the Army or Air Force or a civilian or just in the area this next week, take the time to go see these magical tulip fields. They are jaw-dropping and beyond stunning. Now I might be biased – tulips are my favorite – but it is one of many truly unique festivals that the beautiful Pacific Northwest has.

Jump on the chance to go see the fields soon though – the festival ends on April 30th! You and your family won’t regret it!

Lauren

P.S. Active Duty Military entry tickets to Tulip Town are only $4 a person!

P.S.S. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from fellow wives making the move up to JBLM here soon, so we have decided to do a month of PCS blog posts to happen in the month of May to help you all out! We’re excited – stay tuned!! And message me any questions you have at therealsweetheartblog@gmail.com!

Travel Tips: Fort Benning

Fort Benning.

At Blair's OSUT graduation (2nd trip to Fort Benning)

At Blair’s OSUT graduation (2nd trip to Fort Benning)

There are five key things to know before making a trip to Fort Benning, GA – especially if you are under the age of 25! Before Blair’s Family Weekend Pass from his BCT graduation I struggled with planning the trip from Nevada to Georgia. To me, buying a plane ticket, booking a hotel room and picking Blair up was simple. But after taking away the option of me renting a rental car, I might as well have run into a concrete barrier.

Apparently, rental car companies restrict people under the age of 25 from renting a car… And I was 19 at the time so I was in some serious trip planning trouble. While there might have been a few that would rent out to someone younger than that, the extra charges on top of the base rental fee was not worth it. So, I simply just had to do a little bit more planning.

Being three months into being an Army wife at this point, I was wishing that there was some magical site that would tell me all the answers to solving my dilemma.  There wasn’t. And everyday after getting off of work, I searched for the best bargains, military friendly deals and tips to making this trip easy going and stress free. Below are the five key things to keep in mind while planning this trip. The extra planning is well worth it in the end – trust me! Just make sure to follow these steps and truly enjoy your time with your loved one and the Family Weekend Pass will be a success!

1. Getting There

If a rental car from the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport isn’t an option, call Groome Transport.

Truth be told, it is a shuttle, you are on it for a good hour and a half/two hours and it isn’t the most comfortable or best smelling when it comes to traveling with others in the hot and humid Georgian heat.

However, it’s only $39 one way or $72 for the round-trip. Pretty stinkin’ affordable by my standards…

There is a military discount if you take the shuttle to the base, but in my case, since we stayed at a hotel in Columbus, GA (the city surrounding Fort Benning), I was not able to receive it.

*Something to keep in mind is that Army “girlfriends” do not have access to military discounts! You have to be a spouse/family member and have a military identification card to receive most military discounts.

A little unrelated, but Costello stayed with some family members while I was gone! He certainly lived up to his name while I was away...

A little unrelated, but Costello stayed with some family members while I was gone! He certainly lived up to his trouble maker name while I was away…

2. Taxi

No car = Taxi Cab.

I took American Taxi Cab Co. back and forth from our hotel to Benning and I loved them. Their rates were fair and super friendly. Plus, if you call the same driver for your pick-ups, they tend to give you a discount for your “loyalty”!

Please note that not all taxi companies have the ability to go onto base! Each one has to pass a security process to be able to drive on base, so if you decide to use another taxi cab company, just make sure they have access. You are going to need it!

3. Victory Drive

All I really need to say with this tip is stay off and away from Victory Drive. With this road being less than a mile away from Fort Benning’s main gate, it’s easy to pick a hotel right there.

However, most Drill Sergeants tell the boys to stay away from that area due to it not being the best of places (crime, shootings, etc.).

If you do end up picking a hotel there, keep your soldier in the hotel with you and order food in. The Drill Sergeants aren’t joking when they tell you to stay away from that area and they do patrol. Again, trust me! I learned this on my second trip to Fort Benning… 😉

4. Hotel

For me, exit 10 off of Interstate 185 in Columbus is the best spot to stay. We stayed at the Wyndham Garden Columbus, which ended up being about twenty miles away from Harmony Church where Blair was at Basic Training. While it does seem a little costly to be 20 miles away from the base (taxi rides were about $40 to the base), it was well worth it because you end up being close to good food stops (IHOP, Hooters for those certain boys, etc.) and a huge movie theater.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most of the boys will want to be as far away from Benning as possible. They’ve been there for the past three months or so and want to enjoy their break – not wake up to look out the window and see the place they likely dread the most! 

*A good rule of thumb is to stay within 30 miles of the base. Driving and visiting Atlanta is super against the rules. Do it at your own risk!

Sad to say goodbye

Sad to say goodbye…

5. Leave Time

In the Army, “on time” is late, yet too early is obnoxious. Just plan on leaving reasonably early for wherever you go.

I planned on arriving to Georgia the day before the BCT graduation ceremony. This was the perfect amount of time for me to relax, calm my nerves (I was literally uncontrollably excited and nervous – it was a huge moment in my personal and married life!) and iron my outfits for the next few days.

When it came to the actual graduation, I ended up being four hours too early… All I can say is that I was a tad bit confused on when the ceremony was. Luckily, Blair’s battle buddy’s wife had done the same! So we walked and talked and tried to calm each other down from our excitement the best we could.

When it is time for them to report back, half an hour prior was a good amount of time to say your goodbyes and once again leave them. This was the hardest part about this trip, but what I’ve come to realize is that it is a huge part of being an Army wife. Just stay strong, say your prayers and start writing him letters again as soon as he starts walking back to his troop.

Now this last bit isn’t quite a tip, but rather just common sense. Make sure as a spouse or a family member, that your soldier stays in his uniform if out in public, stays in his pt clothes if walking around the hotel and that he always says sir or ma’am. And if they do run into a Drill Sergeant, they should always stand at parade rest. Nothing too hard for any of them considering they have done all of these things every day for the past three months.

Remember that Drill Sergeants give out rules for a reason. If your soldier decides not to follow them, it is their choice. But as a loved one, push them to do the right thing! Because they really won’t want to mess up the last three months of training they have already had and start again from Day 0 if caught – and yes, that does happen!

I hope that this is helpful to someone out there – I know I sure would have loved to have this for direction!

Lauren