When I found out my family had PCS orders I was overjoyed. Once reality set in I became stressed. We had 4 months until we were expected at our next duty station. I remember about a hundred questions and a massive to-do list popping into my mind. The biggest concern was how we would travel since we had a 24- hour drive ahead of us. My first thought was to ship the vehicle and just fly but that dream was crushed when I found out many airlines are not transporting pets anymore. If I could recommend anything for a family moving with pets it would be to get your travel arrangements together first or as early as possible especially if you are traveling overseas. There are many expenses that are associated with moving pets and in some countries, they must quarantine upon arrival. Military families are faced with these challenges all the time and most can agree that our pets are family members that we aren’t usually willing to leave behind.
This was our first move during the summer which is usually considered “peak PCS season”. Because so many families move during this time; plans change frequently, lodging accommodations fill up quickly and it can become very overwhelming.
Some of the things that helped our family pull off this move with little stress were contacting lodging as soon as possible. We lined up the dates when we expected to move out of our home and ensured pet units were available as many bases only have a limited amount of rooms. A few days before we were set to start driving we planned out all the stops. Instead of just stopping at rest areas we made an adventure out of it. We planned stops in specific cities and took in the sites. Stopping along the way gave everyone a chance to stretch their legs and get a little fresh air. We ate a few of our meals outside at parks so our dog wasn’t left in the car. As you all know cars can heat up very quickly in the summer months, so always remember: NEVER leave your pets in a hot car.
After a long day of driving, the only thing you really want to do is just rest. I would highly recommend getting an idea of what hotel chains accept pets prior to starting your travel. This was very beneficial for us.
Lastly, our pet had a travel bag just like everyone else. I didn’t need very much but I found these items to be so helpful during the car ride. We packed: a portable water bottle, blanket, plastic feeding bowls, retractable leash, and doggie bags. If you are wondering why we needed a blanket it’s because our pup sheds A LOT. We also brought along bottled water to cut down costs and it was very convenient.
Now that the move is complete I must say I think it went very well. My tips would be to start with a solid plan, map out your travel route and pack the essentials to make your car ride smooth.