Are you planning a military relocation from CONUS to OCONUS? One of the biggest questions on your mind is likely how many travel days to expect. The answer depends on various factors, but we have put together some useful information to help you plan your move and make it as smooth as possible.
Organising a trip can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to a PCS. But with our tips and tricks, you can feel confident that you are prepared for this big change. Keep reading to learn more about how to organise your trip and what factors can affect your travel time.
What is PCS?
PCSing, or Permanent Change of Station, is a term used in the military to refer to the relocation of service members and their families from one duty station to another. PCSing can occur within the continental United States (CONUS) or outside of it (OCONUS), and can be a stressful but exciting experience.
Different factors can determine the frequency and location of PCS, including rank, job specialty, and length of service. Some service members may move frequently – every two to three years – while others may stay in one location for several years.
The reasons for a PCS can vary, including new duty assignments, promotions, or routine military rotations. Regardless of the reason for the move, PCSing requires planning and organization to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Factors that can affect travel time
When planning a PCS from CONUS to OCONUS, it’s important to understand the factors that can impact your travel time. The distance between your current location and your new destination, as well as the mode of transportation you choose, can all play a role in how long it will take you to reach your new home.
Distance between CONUS and OCONUS
The distance between CONUS and OCONUS can vary greatly depending on your destination. For example, a PCS to Japan will take longer than a PCS to Germany. The distance and location of your new duty station should be taken into consideration when planning your travel time.
Mode of transportation
The mode of transportation you choose can also impact your travel time. If you are traveling by plane, you will likely have a shorter overall travel time, but you may also experience longer layovers and the added stress of navigating through airports. If you choose to travel by car or train, your travel time may be longer due to the distance, but you will have the added flexibility of being able to stop and rest when needed.
|Mode of transportation
|Estimated travel time
|10-15 hours, including layovers
|Several days, depending on the distance
|Several days, depending on the distance and stops
When planning your PCS, it’s important to take into account both the distance and mode of transportation to ensure that you are adequately prepared for your journey. By doing so, you can help to guarantee a smoother transition to your new home.
How to Plan for a PCS
Organising a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) can be overwhelming, but with proper planning, you can make the process smoother. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you have a successful relocation:
Research Your Destination
Before you make any travel plans, you should research your destination thoroughly. This includes learning about the local culture, climate, and customs. You should also research the cost of living in your new location and determine how much housing allowance you will receive.
Create a Budget
Moving can be expensive, so it’s essential to create a budget that covers all of your expenses. Your budget should include costs for transportation, lodging, meals, and incidentals. You should also factor in costs related to getting settled in your new location, such as utility deposits and rental deposits.
Prepare for Packing
Packing can be one of the most stressful parts of a PCS. To make the process easier, start packing as early as possible. You should also create an inventory of your belongings, label your boxes clearly, and pack strategically to make unpacking easier. Consider donating or selling items you no longer need to lighten your load.
Notify Your Chain of Command
Be sure to notify your chain of command as soon as you receive your PCS orders. They can provide guidance and support throughout the moving process. You should also keep them informed of your progress, especially if your travel plans change.
Throughout the moving process, it’s essential to stay organised. Keep all of your important documents in one place, such as your passports, PCS orders, and medical records. You should also create a checklist of all the tasks you need to complete before your move, such as obtaining necessary vaccinations and arranging for transportation.
Use Available Resources
The military provides resources to help service members and their families with PCS moves. Take advantage of these resources, such as the relocation assistance program, housing assistance, and transportation services. You can also reach out to your base’s family support center for additional support.
Preparing for the Trip
Before embarking on your PCS trip from CONUS to OCONUS, there are important steps you should take to ensure a smooth relocation. Here are our top tips:
Obtain Necessary Documentation
Make sure you have all necessary documentation for yourself and any family members traveling with you, including passports, visas, and medical records. Check with your sponsor or the installation transportation office for specific requirements for your destination.
Make sure everyone in your family is up to date on required vaccinations for your destination. Schedule appointments at your local military treatment facility or the installation clinic. Keep in mind that some vaccinations may require several weeks to be effective.
Prepare Your Home
Before leaving, make sure your home is ready for your absence. Arrange for someone to collect your mail and take care of your plants and pets if necessary. Disconnect any appliances and utilities, and make sure your home is clean and secure.
When packing for your PCS, make sure to follow guidelines for your mode of transportation. Consider packing essentials in a separate bag or box that you can access easily during the trip. Label all boxes clearly with your name, destination, and contact information. Pack a few comfort items like snacks and games to keep you and your family comfortable during travel.
Following these steps can help ensure a stress-free PCS trip and a successful relocation to your new home.
Travel time expectations
When planning a PCS from CONUS to OCONUS, it’s important to have an idea of how long the journey will take. The travel time can vary depending on the mode of transportation used and the distance between your current location and your new duty station.
Here is a rough estimate of the travel time you can expect:
|Mode of transportation
|15-20 hours, including layovers
|Varies depending on availability and routing
|2-4 weeks, depending on the route
Please note that these times are only estimates and can be affected by various factors, such as weather conditions and scheduling delays. It’s always a good idea to plan for extra travel time.
Tips for a Smooth Relocation
Relocating can be a stressful experience, especially when moving to a new country. Here are some tips to help make your move as smooth as possible:
- Stay Organized: Make a list of everything you need to do before your move, including arranging for housing and transportation, obtaining necessary paperwork, and packing essentials. Keep all important documents together in a safe, easily accessible place.
- Communicate with your Chain of Command: Keep your chain of command informed of your relocation plans and ask if they have any advice or recommendations. This can also help ensure a smooth transition into your new unit.
- Prepare for Culture Shock: Research your new location and become familiar with the local customs and culture. This can help you feel more comfortable and reduce the likelihood of culture shock.
- Take Care of Yourself: Relocating can be physically and emotionally taxing. Make sure to get enough rest, eat healthily, and exercise regularly to help reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.
- Be Patient: Remember that adjusting to a new location takes time. Give yourself and your family time to settle in and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
“Staying organized and prepared, communicating with your chain of command, and taking care of yourself can all help make your relocation a smooth and successful one.”
Adjusting to your new location
Adjusting to a new location after a PCS can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to explore a new place and create new memories. Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier:
- Get to know the area: Take some time to explore your new surroundings. Check out local attractions, restaurants, and shopping centers. Take a walk or a drive to get a feel for the layout of the town.
- Find new friends: Join groups or clubs that interest you. Attend social events at the base or in the local community. Meet your neighbors and introduce yourself.
- Stay active: Keep up with your exercise routine or try new activities. Join a gym or sports team at the base. Take advantage of the outdoor recreation opportunities in your area.
- Be patient: Adjusting to a new location takes time. It’s normal to feel homesick or disoriented at first. Give yourself time to settle in and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Remember, a PCS can be a stressful time, but it’s also an exciting opportunity to discover a new place and make new connections. By staying positive and proactive, you can adjust to your new location and create a successful transition for yourself and your family.
Here are some frequently asked questions about PCS:
What should I do with my pets during the move?
It is important to research the requirements for transporting pets to your new location. You may need to obtain health certificates, vaccinations, and other documentation. Consider whether you will fly with your pet or use a pet shipping service. It may also be helpful to find a pet-friendly hotel or temporary lodging for your arrival.
How can I handle my household goods shipments?
You will need to coordinate with your transportation office to arrange for the shipment of your household goods. The timeline for delivery can vary depending on your location and the mode of transportation used. It is important to carefully label and inventory your items to ensure they arrive at your new location safely. You may also want to consider purchasing additional insurance coverage for your belongings.
What should I do if I have questions or concerns during the relocation?
Communication is key during a PCS. You should stay in contact with your chain of command and transportation office throughout the process. If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. It may also be helpful to connect with other military families who have gone through the relocation process.
How can I cope with culture shock?
Adjusting to a new location can be challenging, especially if you are moving to a different country. It can be helpful to research the culture and customs of your new location before you arrive. Keep an open mind and try new experiences, such as trying local cuisine or attending cultural events. Finding a support network, such as a military spouse group or local community group, can also help you adjust to your new surroundings.