This post is sponsored by Lloyd Mats.
PCS season is rapidly approaching. Even if you haven’t gotten your orders yet, you are probably still trying to get yourself organized. Thousands of service members and their families will hit the road this summer, driving themselves and their belongings across the country. If you are one of those families, we have a few PCS tips for your car that you are going to want to take with you, both literally and figuratively.
10 PCS Tips for Your Car
Invest in Some Custom Floor Mats
If there is one thing you’ll be doing quite a bit during your PCS travels it’s eating in the car. Between fast-food and throwing your kids another lollipop so you can make it to your next stop with some semblance of sanity, food
Research has shown that people are more anxious when things are messy, so keeping your car as clean and organized as possible is key to a successful PCS. Custom, all-weather, kid-proof floor mats like these, from Lloyd Mats fit your car like a glove because they are made for the exact make, model, and year of your vehicle.
The easy-to-clean Rubbertite rubber makes it exceptionally easy to shake off sand, wipe up mud, or even vacuum graham cracker crumbs. They also prevent any spills from getting into the floorboard of your car. Coffee, milk, juice, soda – you name it! The grooves keep stuff from sloshing around; keeping your spills in place until you can get to them. The mats can help collect pet hair and potty accidents are easy to clean off this material. You can get them for every part of your car, too; front seats, back seats (each row if you have a large SUV or minivan), and the trunk (even different sizes if your seats fold down for a larger trunk space).
These Rubbertite car mats from Lloyd Mats come in a variety of colors to either match the interior of your car or your personal style (Hot pink car mats? Heck yes! Now your minivan is even cooler). And now, when you get to your new duty station, you are prepare for any sort of weather (rain, snow, and mud won’t be tracked into your car and caked into the carpeting).
Get a set for your service member’s car, too. This way the mud, dirt, and general field exercise grime won’t take their toll on the car’s floorboard either.
Organize Your Snacks
Instead of buying crappy snacks at gas stations while you’re on the road, pre-purchase snacks before you hit the road. Here are some relatively healthy options for kids (and adults):
- fruit and applesauce pouches
- snack packs with fruit and cheese
- organic granola bars
- milk boxes that don’t have to be refrigerated
- organic juice boxes
- dried fruit
- freeze-dried fruit
- banana chips
Keep all the snacks in the front with you so you can easily distribute them as you go. A car trunk organizer is a great way to have everything within arm’s reach in the passenger seat and it helps keeps everything in its place without open boxes and bags thrown all over the car.
For each day you’re on the road, pack a Ziplock bag filled with daily snacks for each child. Pack all the Ziplock bags in a temperature regulated bag, and hand them out to your children before you hit the road for the day (or a few hours after breakfast). This way you aren’t searching for the items they’re asking for and tossing them back as you’re driving.
Have Food Trays
Fast food joints are usually the go-to for many military families as they PCS across the country. Even though they are great pit stops to let everyone out to stretch their legs, sometimes it’s just not reasonable to stop (i.e., there is a sleeping baby in the car or it’s not a safe area). Little activity cups (as pictured below) are perfect for holding your child’s cheeseburger and fries (or any snack) while on the road.
You can also use these containers to hold items like activity kit supplies, drinks, napkins, or wipes for easy accessibility as you drive.
Make Car Activity Kits
If you have young kids in the car, sometimes even movies won’t cut it. Creating activity kits with things like coloring books, crayons, small puzzles, stickers, and homemade playdough are great to have for a little play time even while stuck in the car for hours.
Have a small cake pan for each child to hold their activity kits. When used right-side up it can hold things like their puzzle pieces or playdough. When used upside down, it is the perfect lap tray for coloring.
Keep a Vacuum in the Car
Is your Roomba on 24/7 in your house? Are you following your kids around with a broom and dustpan? Then chances are having a messy car during your PCS is going to drive you crazy. A small, handheld battery-operated vacuum is a great tool for quickly cleaning up car seats, regular seats, and floorboards. With Rubbertite mats from Lloyd Mats, cleanup will be super easy — just vacuum and wipe everything down.
At the end of each day, take a few minutes to clean out your car. Reorganize, vacuum up crumbs, and wipe down the seats with disinfecting or baby wipes. Now you can begin the
Stop at Playgrounds
One of the best ways to prevent tyranny in the backseat of your car is to let those little bodies you created expel some energy. All Chick-fil-A restaurants have play places if you can find one on the map. Otherwise, many rest areas and visitor centers have open spaces where kids can run, jump, or take a walk.
Here are some easy games you can play in
- Red Light, Green Light
- Red Rover
- Horseshoes (pack a set of pool rings, grab a stick, and put it in the ground)
- Freeze Dance
- Kids Yoga
- Hopscotch (bring chalk)
You will need time to work out the kinks. If you are driving for multiple days, use rest stops as a time to recharge. Take a walk, jog for 20 minutes, or do a quick workout in the hotel gym before hitting the road.
Pack a Go-Bag
If you will be driving for days, you will be stopping at hotels along the way. Instead of dragging in huge suitcases every night, pack a go-bag with clothes and toiletries for everyone for each night you will be sleeping on the road. If you have multiple family members, give everyone their own small go-bag (like a backpack) so you don’t have to haul giant suitcases back and forth from the hotel to the car.
Pack nighttime snacks in your go-bag. Items like popcorn, hot cocoa, and tea are simple things that can help recharge you after a long day of driving. (Mini bottles of wine are perfectly acceptable, too.)
Keep Important Documents within Reach
If you’ve done the PCS thing a few times you’ve probably heard you shouldn’t send all your important documents — like your marriage certificate, orders, or birth records — with your movers. Use an accordion folder to house important documents. Keep the folder next to the driver’s seat in the car so you can take it with you when you get out of the car for long pit stops and overnight stays at hotels.
You can use the folder to hold all of your receipts (gas, hotel, food, and others) for when you submit your moving reimbursement claim.
Have Emergency Tools On Hand
Keep an emergency kit on hand for both the people in the car AND the car. Have a first-aid kit, tire pressure and air blower kit, and an emergency roadside kit with you at all times — especially during a long PCS drive.
Keep an MRE and a bottle of water for every person in your family stored in your car at all times. You never know what can happen, and if you get stuck in a remote area (I-40 is known for many long stretches with nothing in sight), you will have supplies to sustain you.
Prepare Yourself for the Car-Pocalypse
Kids get sick, and it’s usually never at the best times. But adults can get sick, too. The best thing you can do is prepare yourself. Have grocery bags, wipes, and over-the-counter meds with you in the car in case someone comes down with an emergency stomach bug or other illness. By the way, TRICARE covers an unlimited number of urgent care visits, so if you need to visit a doctor, don’t be afraid to stop.
Keep your on-the-go medicine cabinet in the front with you (either in your car’s console or in the middle console) for easy and quick access. Luckily, if anyone gets sick and it ends up on the floor, your new floor mats will make it easy to clean up.
PCSing over several state lines for days on end with your whole family crammed into a small space is… an adventure. But we do it several times over the course of our military lives, so we might as well make the best of it. These 10 PCS tips for your car will help make your PCS adventure a bit smoother — and cleaner — so you can safely arrive at your next duty station with at least most of your sanity.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Need even more tips? Check out Surviving a PCS Roadtrip with Kids