Bucket List for a New Duty Station

JD Collins

When you arrive at a new duty station, you have the immediate to-dos: unpack, organize, enroll kids in school and perhaps find a job. Before you know it, 2 or 3 years have gone by and then it will be time to do it all over again. Do you ever stop and think about what you need to do before you leave?  Keep this bucket list in mind so you’ll never have to wait until the last minute.

1. Drive around town without a GPS

It will force you to become accustomed to driving around town and not having to utilize your GPS. It will also help you discover new landmarks and buildings if you’re not waiting for the next command from Google Maps.

2. Eat at 5 local restaurants

Support local businesses. They are the ones that keep the town going. You can eat at chain restaurants any time. Make an effort into going to one-of-a-kind eateries.

3. Go to one event in town

Whether it’s a parade or a 4th of July celebration, go to one event to get to know the culture and people of a new duty station. It’s also a great way to make friends.

4. Attend one MWR/MCCS event

The staff of MWR/MCCS go through great lengths to provide support and entertainment for armed services. These events are often little to no cost and are a great way to be more engaged in the military community.

5. Visit the most popular local attraction

The local attraction could be an amusement park, a beach or mountain, a museum or maybe just a famous statue. Seeing what attraction puts your new duty station on the map helps you feel more excited and connected to the town.

6. Buy one souvenir/trinket from a locally owned store

More often than not, they are also huge supporters of the military and provide a military discount. It doesn’t have to be expensive: magnet, postcard or coffee mug. It’ll be a nice addition to the memory box.

7. Hike to the best available view

If you’re in a mountainous area, hiking to the best available view will (literally) make you’re on top of the world. If the new duty station is flat, visit the beach or a park or a garden and appreciate the surrounding beauty.

8. Write online reviews for 3 local restaurants/stores/salons/etc.

When you’re searching for activities to do in your new duty station, you will most likely use word-of-mouth or the internet for reviews. Once you’ve visited these activities, write a review about them to pay it forward for future visitors.

9. Have at least one family portrait taken
In any military town, there will be at least ONE military-affiliated photographer. They will often have military discounts and will be familiar shooting portraits. Having a nice portrait will be a great keepsake in the scrapbook.

10. Volunteer somewhere
Volunteering not only helps the community, but it’s also a great way to meet new people and make new contacts. Volunteer on base with support services or volunteer off-base and expand your network all the while doing some good.

11. Play tour guide for an incoming family
Once you’ve become an expert at your new duty station, be a tour guide for an incoming family, even if someone didn’t do it for you. It’s a military “family”.

12. Stay Positive
Your happiness at any duty station, whether it’s OCONUS, in a big city or in the desert, is what you make of it. Put the pout away, and stay positive.

What do you do before you leave a duty station?

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