How to Choose a Hotel for PCS

How to Choose A Hotel During Your PCS

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There’s only one definite during a PCS.  A hotel stay.  Even if you’re super lucky and have your next home all lined up, chances are that you’ll have to stay in at least one.  Either on the drive or for the first night that you arrive in town before you can get your keys.

You Learn Along the Way

I’ve done everything from a single night (thank goodness for the short trip from Benning to Campbell) or a month of stays traveling from Lewis to Benning.  That one even ended with 2 weeks in a hotel waiting for our housing to open up on post.

Figure Out Your Priorities

Every family is different and so is every PCS.  When it was just my husband and I, we moved cross-country with 4 days to do it and our only thought was about getting there.  We stayed at whatever hotels were easy on and off the highway with no regard to the surrounding city.  When we moved from Fort Lewis to Fort Benning we had a 9 month old and we also had 6 weeks to get there.  We decided that we needed to have plenty of breaks and we wanted to sight see.  We’ve also had dogs on our moves so we had to find pet friendly hotels.

Always Look For the Military/Government Rate

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised to hear how many people don’t really pay attention to it.  A lot of families just find out what their per diem rate is (the rate the military will reimburse you per night) and choose a hotel that fits that.  But you can stay in a much nicer hotel if you factor in the discounted rate!  Some hotels might seem out of per diem but with a discount they end up well within your allotment.

Pets Can Put a Serious Wrinkle in Your Plans

There are a lot of pet friendly hotels out there.  Finding one really isn’t that difficult.  Finding a nice one… that’s a whole different story.  We’ve gotten majorly hosed before by pet friendly hotels.  A lot more mo than ho, if ya know what I mean.  It definitely takes a little more advanced planning to find a good spot to lay your head when Fido is taking the journey with you.  La Quinta is one of the nicer kid and pet friendly hotel chains that also has Government Rates.

Plan For Extended Hotel Stays

We’ve been fortunate enough to only have one long hotel stay.  But it still happened.  As a family with small children we needed space.  A regular hotel room wouldn’t cut it.  We loved staying at Extended Stay America for that reason.  The rooms were like mini apartments.  There was a separate bedroom and a designated dining room with a kitchenette that was fully stocked.  With 2 frying pans, silverware for 4, and dishes we were able to make some basic “home cooked” meals.  No hotel room is going to be like home but this was as comfortable as it can get without staying at an Airbnb.  And yes, the Military rates – always at or below per diem!  There’s nothing worse than finding a badass place to stay and realizing that it’s just not in the budget.

Make Your Budget Work FOR You

There are so many great hotel deals out there, it’s staggering.  The best thing about PCS season is that it’s during the summer.  Which also happens to be vacation season.  You should definitely be taking advantage of all the vacationers deals when planning where to stay.  One of the best ways to do is to become a member of a hotel chain’s point system.

When did our 6 week extravaganza we used Choice Hotels.  It’s a huge company of different hotel chains.  You can choose anything from Rodeway Inn and Econo Lodge to Clarion Suites.  With so many different chains, there was always at least 1 in every area we wanted to stay. Earn nights or flights fast with the Choice Hotels® Choice Privileges® rewards program.

When you become a points member they typically give you free nights after so many individual says.  It’s hard for the average traveller to get a lot of individual stays, but during a PCS you can easily stay in a new hotel every night.  Since the Army reimburses us for the hotel stays we save our free nights for family vacations.  Boom!  Just like that, we don’t have to pay for our hotel during our next vacay.

So What I’m Saying Is…

Plan Ahead!  You don’t have to book your entire itinerary ahead, that’s dang near impossible!  What you can do is look at different member rewards programs and pick the one that best suits your needs or is running the best promotion during the time frame you’ll be utilizing it.  Check out pet friendly hotel chains.  Find the best suites for your dollar if you’re stuck waiting on housing.  But most importantly, think about how you can make the military work for YOU.

Do you have any tips or tricks for choosing your hotels during a PCS?


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  • aisasami

    I don’t know if all bases have them but the base hotel at Grand Forks AFB was pretty amazing (but this was like 15 years ago). When we were getting ready to leave GFAFB due to my dad’s retirement, we were able to stay in a family suite. It was the size of a 2 bedroom apartment (could easily fit a family of 5) and was recently built. I would recommend base hotels, especially since the trend has been to knock down and rebuild, if you could.

  • Stephanie Cruz

    Wonderful tips for families who will be needing these! Also a great read as I didnt know what goes in during PCS for military families

  • Andrea

    these are all great ideas on how to best choose your hotel during the PCS. this is perfect for a friend of mine who is about to go through this once again. thanks a mil!

  • Olga Zak

    These are very informative tips. It will be a great help to all people who are always travelling. Having a kitchen is really needed.

  • Terri Beavers

    I grew up in a military family but as an adult I haven’t had to travel like we used to. I have to say that it’s always good to use member rewards programs when traveling, that’s a big plus.

  • Emma Riley

    These are very informative tips and I am sure it will be a great help to all people who are always travelling. I agree that you should plan ahead and be flexible when it comes in your itinerary.

  • Stephanie

    I haven’t had to choose hotels for a PCS, but I am usually the one to plan a vacation. Including the two-week long vacation with my parents this summer that took us to 6 different states and 7 different National Parks, leaving from a different airport than we started at. Traveling with young kids, we always try to stay somewhere that has a bedroom with a door so we don’t have to go to bed when the boys do. My mom is part of Wyndham rewards and all except one of our hotels during that entire trip was covered by her points!

  • Jessica Joachim

    This is so helpful for anyone in this situation! I never lived this life, but so many of my military friends live this daily and I know it can be so stressful, especially if you have pets

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for providing this information. We are scheduled to PCS at the end of next month! We are hoping the appraisal goes well so we won’t have to find a hotel but if we do, I’ll reflect back to this post 🙂

  • kumamonjeng

    Great tips for anyone who wish to plan hotel. I never heard of PCS as I am not living in US. Plan ahead is a key factor and dont wait for last minutes. Also be flexible too for any sudden changes or itinerary.

  • Aditya

    Well, I have gone through every single tip of your and I personally follow most of them, but when it comes to budget, how to you know, control? Some hotels are quite expensive even though you can improvise for start but in later on, how it can work for us? That is like my only question. Please let me know

  • LiveLoveAndAdventure

    This is a great suggestion and not only would work for your PCS but also for a vacation or business trip. If you are going to stay somewhere for multiple nights, it’s nice to use a chain hotel where you can get a free night out of it!

  • LiveLoveAndAdventure

    This is very informative, thank you. It works not only for a PCS but a vacation or business trip as well. I love when pick a hotel chain and can earn free nights, also. If you are having to stay multiple dates, it’s nice to get something free out of it.

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