Wednesday, April 30, 2014

PCSing Overseas: What to Pack

Even though we have already been in Germany for about a month, we still do not have our household goods or our car. So we have been living with what we brought in our suitcases and what we have bought since we got here. Needless to say, there are some items that we wish we had brought with us. This was our first time PCSing so it was sort of a free for all when it came to packing. Next time around I  plan on bringing only one suitcase with personal items and clothes for myself and making one suitcase specifically for household items that we will need.

Things I wish I had brought in our suitcases:
  • A nice, non-stick, frying pan- Once we got housing we were able to borrow kitchen items from ACS while we wait for our stuff but they are very basic items and the pans are not non-stick which is horrible for cooking pretty much anything. 
  • Sheets- We brought our own blanket but not sheets. We ended up having to buy a cheap set of sheets while we wait for our HHG. This isn't that big of a deal because we can still use them once our stuff gets here but it would have been some money saved. 
  • More shoes- I really tried to limit myself with what shoes I brought which is kind of funny since I brought pretty much all of my clothes. I would have brought my extra pairs of tennis shoes and some more flip flops. The shoes would have been nice for walking into town. I only brought one pair of tennis shoes for walking/running and they don't really match very many outfits. Also, I didn't bring any flip flops because I didn't think about it being warm enough to wear them yet, and it is. So I had to buy a pair. 
  • Towels, washcloths, and hand towels- We had to buy new towels and washcloths when we got our housing. It would have been a lot easier to just pack some, especially since we have so many on the way. 
Things I wish I had left in HHG:
  • Clothes- I brought a lot of clothes (in my opinion). I should have looked more at what the weather would be like here. I could have left out all of the long sleeve shirts that I packed and added in some shorts and summer items. It isn't too hot here yet but there have been several days that I wish I had brought my shorts. So I had to go buy some, which isn't that big of a deal since I love shopping but it would have just been nice to have options. 
  • Wii- We brought it mostly because when they took our HHG we wanted to keep it to watch until we left the states but didn't want to leave it behind. It is pretty much useless here without a TV and would have saved some luggage space. 
Things I wish I had packed in HHG:
  • All of our 110v small kitchen appliances- We left quite a few things behind because we did not know for sure that housing on post would have both types of outlets or how many of each there would be. We should have packed our microwave and toaster oven and what not. Instead we had to buy a microwave here. 
I'm sure there are things I am forgetting. Pretty much everything that we didn't bring in our luggage we were able to buy right away. Had we packed them though, we could have saved at least $100 when we arrived. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PCSING Overseas with a Dog

Moving overseas in itself is a lot of work but moving a pet makes it so much more stressful. I can only give advice on the steps to take for moving to Germany because every country has different requirements.

1.  Your pet needs to have an internationally recgnized microchip.  These are the 15 digit microchips.  Most vets will know if the microchip they use is the right kind.

2. Then they have to be up to date on their shots and specifically need a rabies shot. They have to get the microchip put in BEFORE they get a rabies shot.  Then the rabies shot paperwork has to have the microchip number on it.
You will need paperwork for both the microchip and the rabies shot with you at customs. 

3. Your pet will also have to have a 10 day health certificate stamped by the USDA. If you live on a military base the vet will know this but if not you will have to ask if they have done one.  You can contact your local USDA office to get the dual language German and English one, which is preferred.  You have to get this done about 7 or 8 days before you leave so that you make sure it gets back to you in time in case something isn't filled out right and you have to do it again. But also is still valid a day or two after your flight in case it gets delayed. The USDA will let you overnight it and if you pay for it will overnight it back to you. 

4. You have to look up what type of crate your pet must ride in because it varies by airline,  which you will have to buy.  Most require them to be bolted on the sides not just have the plastic clips.  These can always be added yourself because most crates won't come with bolts.  You also have to have food and water bowls attached to the door for most airlines, which are sold at most pet stores.  

5. I recommend you bring three copies of all your pets paperwork to the airport; one for yourself,  one to tape to the top of the pet cage,  and an extra just in case. You will need it when you board and when you land and then the vet will need some of it when you register your pet on base.  

6. Our travel office set up our pets reservation along with our flight but if they don't you have to book that yourself and not all airlines are pet friendly.  You also have to pay out of pocket for your pets travel because the army will not pay for it. Our dog plus his cage weighed 90lbs and it cost about $150. 

7. Our dog isn't that people friendly so we had our vet give us some pills to relax him. I would recommend this,  it really helps. Especially if your dog is nervous in general or not used to being caged.  

Well I think that's about it.  Hope I covered everything 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


So last week we officially PCSed to Germany!  It was definitely one of the craziest things I've ever done.
Here's the rundown on the move.
We had to drive 6 hours from Ohio to Baltimore to drop off our car at the port so that it could be shipped to Germany.  So we left at 0430, got to Baltimore around 1030 and had to get a rental car.  I drove our car and Jay followed with the rental so that we could drive ourselves places after dropping off our car. After at least an hour of trying to find the port (with no gps thanks to at&t)  we finally made it. 
After we finished the paperwork for shipping the car it was about 1400. We couldn't go to the airport and checkin until about 2015. So we drove around Baltimore to waste time.  We could have found a park and walked Cooper if it hadn't been raining/snowing all day.  So we were forced to sit on the car or find stores to go to.  At this point we are both exhausted.  It's surprisingly hard to sleep the night before you move out of the country.  I only got about two hours of sleep and Jay got about four.  So we pulled into a shopping center parking lot and tried to nap.  We also took Cooper to a pet store to get some exercise before the big plane ride. 
After a very long boring day that seemed to never end,  we were finally able to go to the airport. We pulled up to the drop off area where I was able to get a cart for all of our luggage and dog cage.  Then jay went to return our rental car while I waited. 
We thought that there wouldn't be many people on our flight because it was a military airline and going straight to Germany.  Really,  how many people are flying to Germany at 0230 that also are able to fly on the military airline? The answer is. ..About 200. Seriously the 777 was almost full.  There were a ton of people PCSing and at least one unit going to Kuwait.  Lucky for us we had Cooper,  so instead of waiting in line behind 200 people for check in we got to go to the very short (non existent) line for families with kids and/or pets. 
The dog travel process is complicated and I'll write about it in another post.  But we did finally get to board the plane almost on time and we slept almost all the way to Germany.