Creating Your Duty Station Bucket List
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Hey friends! I know we promised you Part 2 of our Day in the Life series this month, but we thought with everything going on, and a lot of people home these days, we would switch things up and do our working mamas post next month. Don't worry, it is still coming, just doing a little rearranging of our schedule.
This month we thought we would talk about something that has been a part of my (Julia) military life since our first duty station: The Duty Station Bucket List! This list has been something my husband, Aaron, and I (and now our kiddos) have loved to work on and add to as we learn new things about our current station.
What is a Duty Station Bucket List?
A Duty Station Bucket List is something we started at Fort Hood when we got married in 2014 and knew we had a PCS on the horizon in the next 18 months. We compile all the things around the area, or within a do-able drive, that interest us. We pull from friend's recommendations, our interests (and now those of our kids), places we want to go but never seem to have the time for, and of course the all knowing Pinterest! We write them down in no particular order and then check them off as we accomplish them!
Why do I need a Duty Station Bucket List?
Ok, ok, "need" might be a strong word, but I definitely think you SHOULD have one and here's why. If your family is anything like mine, we are constantly dreaming of things we want to do and then when life gets busy (as it ALWAYS does), those things slip through our fingers and we forget about them. Having a physical written list of what we want to do at each place helps us maximize our weekends, DONSAs, block leave periods, and holidays. We only get one life to live. Personally, I want to live mine now, not once my service member gets to 20 years! People always say the military is a great way to travel on the government's dollar. While that is true, I also think plenty of people (I was this way too so no judgement here) move to the next duty station and then don't go explore because maybe Fort Campbell isn't on their 10 most desired locations to travel to. It wasn't on mine either. Actually, it wasn't even on my 10 most desired duty stations. But I've had to learn to bloom where I'm planted and the best way I can do that is to enjoy my time someplace and explore as much as possible!
How do I start my Duty Station Bucket List?
This is pretty simple, but can often seem daunting. It can be one of those white paper stressors if you let it. Don't! Here's how we do it. Since we never quite know exactly how long we will be at one duty station, we like to start and keep our list running from the time we arrive somewhere. This list is not perfect. We add to it as friends recommend things or cross things off if we hear too many negative reviews about something. It is a living document. In it's simplest form, it is a checklist. Ours has evolved to include the event or activity, exact location, how much it costs (including if there is a groupon, coupon code, or sale), if there are other activities we are doing on the same adventure, and a time we want to do it (Ex: "summer block leave 2020"). The great thing about your Duty Station Bucket List is that it can include whatever is most important to you and your family!
If you'd like to use ours, we have a free download available for you here!
What do I do with my list once we PCS?
That is 100% up to you! However, my suggestion would be to keep it in a binder with all your other ones. The military can always send you back somewhere and if they do you'll have a jump start on your list of activities. Another great thing about saving them is they can be shared with friends who move to that station and are wondering what to do for fun. Think of how great it would be to have a binder full of personally vetted, fun activities to share with your friends when they get their RFO!
We are set to move this summer/winter/next PCS season, is it too late to start my list?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Start that list and maximize the time you have left at your current duty station! Odds are you already have a mental list of things you want to do, but just haven't had the time for yet. Now is the time to do them! And, like I said before, if you don't finish your list, you'll have a head start on the list for friends or if you ever come back to that duty station.
We know that life right now looks like a lot of staying home (and we fully support that idea and encourage everyone to stay home so we can all stay safe), but that doesn't mean we can't start on our lists for when life get's back to normal. It also might help your cabin fever to start dreaming of the things you can do before you move. Think just how prepared for fun you're going to be when this is all over!