Insider Tips for Your First Military PCS Pack-Out (Isabel Schmitt, LOGSA Mil Moves)

Insider Tips for Your First Military PCS Pack-Out (Isabel Schmitt, LOGSA Mil Moves)

Ready to take on the challenge of your first military move? In the complex world of military permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves, it’s hard to know what you’re getting yourself into until you’ve done it. From packing to dealing with the move itself, a maze of rules, guidance and advice is waiting for you. So how do you know what to do? And is there a way to simply learn the best practices without first making mistakes?

In this episode of PCS with, Army veteran, spouse and military move industry insider Isabel Schmitt lays out her best tips for military families getting ready for a PCS. Co-founder of LOGSA Mil Moves, Isabel’s help is based on her boots-on-the-ground knowledge about how military packers and movers really work. Listen now.

Follow and Subscribe to the PCS With Podcast

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | TuneIn

Connect with this episode:



The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with

Amy Bushatz: Welcome to PCS With I'm your host, Amy Bushatz,'s executive editor. On this podcast, we talk about everything you need to know to make this military move season your best yet. PCS With is brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union. Proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at Our members are the mission.

Now, let's get this PCS started.

For many people, one of the most exciting things about being a military family member is the chance to move around and live in a huge variety of places. In what other career field can you spend a few years in a bunch of different states and countries?

But getting to the part where you get to live on those places means dealing with the part where you have to pack and move. And that can feel very daunting even for the most seasoned military family, but especially for those who are new. Being new to this military move life is no small thing. How do you learn the nuts and bolts of making a PCS happen? If you don't know what you don't know, how exactly can you know what you need to do?

How do you find out the pitfalls and problems to avoid without actually learning the hard way? Answering those questions is one of our top missions here at PCS With Army veteran and spouse isabel Schmidt is not just an expert because she's personally moved a lot. She has co-founded and runs a company that is a part of the military moving industry.

LOGSA Mill Moves provides PCS packers for the moving process at multiple locations nationwide. That means she knows literally everything there is to know about the ins and outs of getting ready for a military move. Last year she joined us to talk about working with your military packers, and today she's gonna give us the inside scoop on getting ready for your very first PCS.

Isabel, welcome back to PCS with

Isabel Schmitt: Hi Amy. Thank you so much for having LOGSA Mil Moves back.

Amy Bushatz: Well, last year you joined us in a highly international experience, from your home in Korea. Where are you today? Where's PCSing taken you now?

Isabel Schmitt: I am currently in Burke, Virginia. My husband received orders to the Pentagon in the summer, the last summer July, 2022. And we find ourselves here.

Amy Bushatz: And remind us how many times have you moved with and without the military? Of course there's one extra time now. So, how many times are we looking at?

Isabel Schmitt: So I'm at 13 times now and I mentioned the last time that a lot of those four of those um, so it's eight there and back are overseas moves and with outside of the military, I moved five times.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, you have some, just a teensy to tinsy bit of experience in this subject. And of course you run lOGSA Mil Moves. So tell us just a little bit about LOGSA Mil Moves. I mentioned that you provide packers. I did not mention that packers in this instance are known as agents. So just tell us a little bit about what your company does if you don't mind.

Isabel Schmitt: Yeah, absolutely. LOGSA Mil Moves set out to do two things, to answer a capacity problem within the moving industry, which was to provide additional crews during that peak season time, when labor is needed, and then to answer the call to provide military spouse employment. So you and I both know military spouses are underemployed or unemployed in many instances.

What we wanted to do was to create a space for an industry that, number one needed additional labor and could provide individuals, military spouses, or veterans who were sympathetic to that military move mission. But I do wanna share some exciting news. It's hot off the press. Last fall we did expand into a full PPM service move manager. And so what we can do now is soup to nuts. Provide for an entire move experience for a family that wants to work either in the system, the DPS system, or outside of the system executing a personally procured move.

Amy Bushatz: So let's get down to business for our new military families here. What are some of the top gotchas and mistakes military families make when preparing for their packers during a military move? What do we need to know?

Isabel Schmitt: Great word "when preparing for." I think the number one mistake is not being prepared for your move. So I know just like everyone else that, that might be listening knows that moving is incredibly stressful and you've got a hundred things coming at you from a hundred different directions when you're preparing for a military move.

So it isn't just figuring out how to get from A to B and how to get your things from A to B, or even just going to the transportation office and scheduling those appointments. It's everything that's happening in between. It's figuring out the new sports teams. It's figuring out which schools it's, am I gonna live on? Am I gonna live off? Do they have availability on? So we're already incredibly stressed. So LOGSA Mil Moves does come from a place of compassion and care. But that number one problem is still movers being not prepared on the day of the move. So you've given us the dates sometimes when orders are late we understand that those dates are coming at you really fast. But there's some simple things that families can do to be prepared for their pack teams, and it's simple. Dishes, washed. Laundry, done. Trash, thrown away. I will tell you, the trash is like a huge issue. But oftentimes your teams, your pack team is not related to your load team out on the ground at LOGSA Mil Moves we do try to make those connections with the pack and load teams, but a lot of times if the driver is the one scheduling the teams, they're going and the agent, let's say the agent scheduled the packers and the driver scheduled the load team they're not related. So a load team is gonna not purposefully pack trash, right? But they're gonna pick up a trashcan, feel that it has weight or heft, you know, to it. And they're gonna assume that there are items packed into that. Let's say it's a density pack, it's going overseas, or we know it's going into storage, things like that. I'm not gonna say that no mover ever meant to do it, but I'm gonna say that most movers don't mean to do that.

So why don't we just avoid the whole situation and have the member throw the trash away, right? Like, and I'm not saying like, LOGSA Mil Moves will never ever pack your garbage cuz we're gonna look in that trash can. But when it comes to peak season and you've got movers who are potentially trying to get to that next job because there is, you know, we've just hit capacity and there aren't these available laborers. They might be moving from your job to another, so they're moving quickly. They're gonna, they're gonna look at that trash can, they're gonna put a blanket over it, they're gonna tape it and they're gonna put it into the truck. So that's that simple stuff, right?

Make sure that the dishes are washed, that we're not packing anything with moisture. Make sure the laundry's done and here's why that matters a day or two ahead, because most families are now, what we see out on the ground is the front loaders. Front loaders hold moisture.

Now you're talking about a mold issue on the other side. And so, that is one of those things that is a member responsibility to make sure that machine is ready to go. So have that kind of stuff done.

When it comes again to the washing machine, there are shipping bolts, right? So you've got drums that exist in those washers and. Those drums came with shipping bolts. Make sure that you've got your shipping bolts prepared for the move to avoid any issue with damage to that drum.

The last really simple thing is have your no pack items set aside the day before and make sure that they are in a separate location if you are planning a partial DITY or a ppm right, personally procured move, then put that stuff in your vehicle just to ensure that it doesn't get packed again. When your packers and your loaders come, they're moving a hundred miles an hour. They're moving as fast as they can during peak season, right? And of course we work with packers and loaders who understand that efficiency and swiftness is important, but we have to do it with quality and care. I do wanna be very careful about making sure that folks understand that that's the LOGSA Mission. But set those items aside. Make sure your keys are in your vehicles not locked, obviously, but get them in there better better in a locked vehicle than in one of 187 boxes, right? Because it's gonna be very difficult to find that.

Amy Bushatz: Fact.

Isabel Schmitt: If you're smart, if you're smart and you're using a PCS binder, make sure that the binder is nowhere near where the pack crews might be packing items. I think for bathrooms like bathtubs are really great places to just kind of chuck everything in, close the shower curtain and put a big x, a big blue X on it.

Painter's tape, blue painter's tape is your best friend on a move out on, out with the industry what I've learned is that blue painters tape is what we use as the standard to sort of mark items off or tape uh, floor protection onto the. That blue painters tape and the shape of an X, that's excellent for pack and load teams. And most of 'em already know what that means.

Amy Bushatz: I'm envisioning like police tape caution, caution.

Isabel Schmitt: I'll tell you that. That could work. That could work. But everybody knows the blue painters tape, right? Especially out on the ground.

Amy Bushatz: I wanna touch back real fast on the trash issue because it sort of lends your mind to one's man's trash is another man's treasure, but I think you made a really important point, which is that most military movers and packers are not setting out to pack your trash or to do something nefarious or evil despite all of the horror stories we've moved. Most people have great intentions or they're doing their best. But often they're just in a hurry. And like you said, they're gonna feel that there's weight in there and just carry on.

And we hear so many stories about people having their trash packed. And it's, I mean, it's become this sort of like military wide joke, but it is actually a real problem. And it is a problem as you've noted in all of these tips that you just said, that people can really take care for themselves by simply taking out the trash. I mean, let's help, help me. Help you guys.

Isabel Schmitt: Yeah, absolutely.

Amy Bushatz: Take the trash out.

Isabel Schmitt: Yeah, so the military community, we have responsibilities when it comes to our move, and I know that on some, you know, other interviews that we've done, we've talked about how one packer will remove items off the wall and another packer won't.

And I if you don't follow Megan Harless's PCS Like a Pro page, I highly recommend it because that's one of those ways that you can work to understand what your responsibilities are, and then meet the pack teams, the load teams where they need to be met so that they can accomplish their job.

What you can pull off of those pages, are number one, your responsibilities and then understanding like the whys of like why it is that things are done, the way that they're done, and what it means, right? And what it means to move during the peak season. Again, during the peak season, there is an incredible shortage of qualified, trained labor. One of the things that LOGSA Mil Moves set out to do in the beginning was to train teams. So we had this idea that there is an industry standard, but I think even in the beginning we figured out that there was sort of some gaps in knowledge. And so we set out to make sure that any packer that went out on for LOGSA Mil Moves pack understood number one, how to do it. You know, had that spatial awareness could, you know, understood some basic physics. But then also understood the soft skill pieces, how to communicate with families and how to like, essentially let them know, right, these are your responsibilities. So a packer shows up and one want will remove the items and the other one won't. Our teams understood how to talk with the families on the ground and explain. Yes, while they removed it the last time, the regulation states that we are not to remove those items. Because what happens is we assume the risk of something happening to that wall when we remove the item. And so when you follow the, you know, the PCS Like a Pro page, and you listen to some of the interviews that we've done on that page, you sort of get a holistic picture of everything that's involved in a move because it seems simple, right? People show up, they pack your. They leave with them. But it's not always that simple. I mean, just even in terms of understanding why your items have to go into storage if you're only two days behind the driver. Two days behind a driver is two jobs during the peak season, right? A driver cannot literally sit with your goods in the vehicle even for two days.

And I know that, that sounds like why I don't, you know, it's just two days. But they drive a lot faster. You know, they can drive more miles in a day during a PCS move than a family. They can drive up to 500. Some of 'em will drive up to 500 miles, and a family can only travel 350 based on the regulations, right?

And so working at understanding those things for yourself helps the move be incredibly smooth because then we kind of, we see the bridge, right? And logs, moves is absolutely committed to building that bridge so that we can kind of work with one another to ensure a seamless move. Of course we strive to be perfect.

But even if we, to quote Derek from Firefighting's Finest out of Texas "we strive for perfection and we arrive at excellence" because let's face it, right, every move is different. Things happen. Your 8,000 pounds doesn't look like my 8,000 pounds, or the survey came in at 10, but it turns out to be 15 and now the truck is full. It's cubed out there, there isn't enough room to get that second shipment on. I mean, just every day. I can't explain to you all of the variations on the ground that take place that make it a really fun job to deal in transportation and logistics but that also can make it incredibly stressful.

Amy Bushatz: Just a quick pit stop here to thank our sponsor. PCS With is brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union.. They may be called Navy Federal, but they don't exclusively serve sailors. Serving all members of the armed forces, they have the products and resources to help you navigate your finances through every phase of life. So even if you can't tell port from starboard, Navy Federal Credit Union will help you earn and save with great rates and exclusive discounts. Learn more at Navy Federal Credit Union, our members are the mission, an equal housing lender.

So you mentioned Megan Harless. Listeners can hear three episodes with her, one in each season of PCS and because we love Megan and she always gives us the inside scoop on things that are changing or things that people need to know for their military moves. But one of the things I have noticed on her page is something that you keep touching on in this episode, which is the responsibility of the military family. So for example, I saw someone comment recently that their mattress came and it's no longer really the same, and it had been packed upright instead of flat. And Megan asked, you know, did you mark or tell your mover that it was this specific kind of mattress that needed to be packed flat. Did you mark that on the page? Because again, somebody's coming into your home, they're packing your stuff, and maybe that knowledge isn't getting passed down. And the way we pass that knowledge down is by making sure it's documented correctly. And I didn't see the end result of this conversation, like if they did say that or not. But it's a great point that you have to know what your responsibilities are as a military family member, and then fulfill those so that your pack can go smoothly. What I wanna know for the newbies listening to this is: how do you know those things? How can you possibly know what your responsibilities are? Are you just like, do they come down from heaven and you just know them? How do you know them?

Isabel Schmitt: You know them by going to Megan's page and just going into the files section. And there's literally a file in the that says responsibilities, right? The, it's a one pager and you can click into it and get the full list of responsibilities. But again, that's utilizing the resources, right? Utilize the resources that are available to you.

Amy Bushatz: Are there any steps that people, maybe it's the first time moving, maybe it's the millionth time moving just don't think of that seem like no brainers once you hear them?

Isabel Schmitt: Absolutely. Get prepared by using the resources you have available to you. We've already talked about Megan Harless's page, PCS like a Pro, the local military spouse pages and I want to add something very recent for us is a partnership that we're working on with No Stress PCS. No Stress PCS provides concierge services that can help moving military families find out about their new location.

It can help military families get prepared for a move. And here's the best part, it's completely free to families. And the thing that I really liked the most about military No Stress PCS is that they employ military spouses. So all along the way this nonprofit has been working to provide these concierge services for military families.

And they've been employing military spouses I think they're up to seven now, and they want to continue to grow. We are going to, well, we look forward to the partnership because it's a way to help military families again, that holistic way, right? We provide the move service and then Military No Stress PCS can help provide those informational pieces that families need to get to their new location and get settled and find resources they need, like landscaping or like a real estate agent or knowing and finding out about what's available in terms of information for the schools. Or let's say your child is a swimmer or a rower. Those kinds of things you don't have to worry about when you've got someone in your corner saying, Hey, these are the schools I've found that have swimming programs. These are some of the neighborhoods that, that fit your criteria. Things like that. So I definitely wanna stress that be on the lookout for that. Again, it's um, Military No Stress PCS and you can find them at And you can find LOGSA Mil Moves at Reach out if you want help with your move. Again, we can work it in the DPS system with agents that we partner with, or we can work outside of that. If you're looking for a PPM

Amy Bushatz: Is there anything else?

Isabel Schmitt: Yeah, you can get started ahead of your orders so you can start to purge. Right? One of the things that we've talked about on your show, I think is the fact that we do need to be a little more eco-conscious.

I know that even in the beginning of his career and us moving all around the globe, I wasn't careful enough and like not packing things that I didn't need to pack. And when it comes to the peak season and space, right, we're cubing out trailers we're figuring out how many shipments we can fit on a trailer or two trailers, you know, moving back and forth and up and down like the, just in the states right now, like, think about how big the United States is, right? And then think about shipments that have to go overseas and get crated. If you are moving things that you no longer need, right? Then you're sort of, you're not helping when it comes to the planet.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And everybody does this. Okay. So I confessed during our last episode, people can go back, listen, in season two of PCS that I had just recently several years after we had moved because we're now a National Guard family cleaned out something that I found that had been packed and moved that I didn't actually want.

I thought for sure that I was done, but oh no. I have sitting here next to me during this conversation, no one's gonna be able to see this, but I'm gonna describe it to you. It is a humongous external CD reader. Okay. It's weighs like, I don't know, at least several pounds. Okay. It is oh, it's called the right master.

Okay. It's the Samsung external DVD reader writer. All right. It's so old that it has this humongous cable Okay. To convert energy for it. All right. And this sucker has moved with us on every move because my husband bought this before we were married in 2008. Okay? And so we have moved this, and I don't even remember the last time we used it.

Well, of course, laptops no longer come with um, a CD drive. Okay? And I was like, oh I wanna look at my wedding photos, which are on CD rom. Okay? So I was like, oh, well we got this ginormous thing. So I whipped this sucker out for the first time, literally ever. We've moved with it all the times and it doesn't really work. So I've been moving this hu I mean we're talking like a couple, like several pounds mammoth piece of equipment circa 2006 probably. Okay. That shocker. Doesn't really work in 2023. What a surprise. And so I have replaced it with one I don't have near me. But you would be just, I mean it's like tiny and lightweight and cheap and all these other things.

So guys, no matter how many times you've moved, look for this look for your old equipment because you're probably not gonna use it. And why? Why am I, why is this still stored in my house? Why? Why is it here? No one wants this.

Isabel Schmitt: We're busy. I mean, I get it. We're busy.

I schlepped around the giant box of cords until that last PCS to Korea and there's a secondary market for items like that. You can certainly put that item on eBay, and I am sure there's a collector out there who would love to have it. I mean, we all know vinyl now.

Amy Bushatz: This is how a collector's item. Yeah, that's how old it

Isabel Schmitt: is.

It is but things are cyclical. Right? So we're back to vinyl. Metallica just bought this huge vinyl, this huge vinyl maker here. And you know, they make LPs um, here in Virginia. I just read this morning, so like we know it might come back. So you, there's a collector out there who wants that piece of equipment Amy. You need to let it go.

Amy Bushatz: Don't tell my husband that. That's why he's holding on to this kind of crap. Because you know, like in my 14 year old, I got this plastic toy from my cereal box. Someone's gonna want this, and that's gonna be worth a million dollars. Look mom, the cereal box says this is the most rare one. This actually happened this week. Okay.

Isabel from LOGSA Mil Moves, thank you so much for joining us on PCS With and for giving us these wonderful tips for the newbies and the experienced people and people like me who have this ginormous CD DVD writer thingy still in my life. Thank you for your time.

Thanks so much for listening to PCS With Want more PCS advice? Check out the rest of PCS With wherever you get your podcasts. A special thanks to our sponsor, Navy Federal Credit Union, proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at Our members are the mission.

And until next time, happy moving.

Story Continues
PCS Family and Spouse Sponsored