You Got Orders to Hawaii…Now What?

What you should do after you get orders to Hawaii.

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You just got orders to Hawaii?!?

Celebrate! Tell everyone you know! Get your sunglasses and swimsuit ready!

Now what?

We were {cautiously} excited when my husband told us that he had PCS orders to Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii.

He found out about his orders in January (for a report date of November 10th), but we didn’t start really planning or getting anything ready until July-ish because the Army is notorious for changing orders last minute. Even then, we were still not convinced that we were actually going.

However, don’t be like me and waste your precious time. Here’s what you should do after you get orders to Hawaii.

Watching the sunset at Nanakuli Beach in Hawaii.
(Soon you’ll be enjoying these gorgeous views.)

Start Getting Your Pets Ready

It sounds crazy that the first thing you should be worried about after getting orders to Hawaii is your pets, but getting them to the island is a long process. The sooner you start it, the better.

Hawaii is the only state that is completely rabies free. So, they’re very strict about testing and vaccines. In addition to being microchipped and fully vaccinated, your pet must also pass a FAVN rabies antibody test and complete a 30-day waiting period before arriving on island.

The test is not only expensive ($300+ per pet), but there is a minimum 3-4 week turn-around time for FAVN test results. We were told that it would take around 3 months for Marv’s test to come back. (Sadly, our sweet puppy passed away before our move. So, he didn’t come with us.)

After you have all of the medical stuff and paperwork ready, you have to buy an airline approved crate for them to ride in. If possible, I would get the crate a few weeks/months in advance to let your pet get comfortable with it.

I highly recommend getting your pet ready first after getting orders to Hawaii. Royal Hawaiian Movers has a great post about relocating pets to Hawaii and this is the state website with official information.

Make a Time Line

One of the most useful things that we did for this PCS was make a timeline.

In the early days after getting orders to Hawaii, it was difficult to plan for anything. We didn’t know when we were shipping our car, packing our stuff, or when we were actually getting on a plane. The only thing we knew was that our report date was November 10.

To get a handle on things, we made a timeline.

Starting with our report date and working backwards, we wrote down when we should schedule to ship our car, pack/load household goods, apply for leave, take the kids out of school, schedule utility shut-offs etc.

This made making plans and scheduling the necessary operations MUCH easier. And I highly recommend making a timeline and writing down all the things.

Timeline of our PCS from Fort Cavazos, Texas to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
(A timeline of how our PCS from Texas to Hawaii went.)

Decide What To Do About School

Unfortunately, we are stuck in a fall PCS cycle, where we move during the months of October and November. Uprooting the kids in the middle of the school year makes PCS-ing even more complicated.

Moving to Hawaii, especially, has its own unique challenges.

Many families that PCS here spend months in a hotel waiting for housing. There are 2 options during this time: homeschool or enroll your kids in the school that the HOTEL is zoned for.

Even if you know which military installation you will live on, you have to enroll them in the hotel-zoned school until you have signed a lease. After signing a lease, you would disenroll the students from the hotel school and enroll them in their new ‘permanent’ school.

We decided to homeschool for a few weeks instead of sending the kids to 2 different schools. We filled out a 4140 Intent to Homeschool Form and turned it into the hotel-zoned school. The military liaison recommended and it worked fine for the couple of weeks that my kids missed during this transition.

If you have school-age children, try to decide what you’re going to do about school soon after getting orders to Hawaii.

You got orders to what?
(Lyvi loved beach days, but she did not love on-line school.)

Get Kids’ Physicals and Shot Records

As if figuring out what to do about school wasn’t stressful enough, actually getting our kids enrolled in school was such even more of a chore.

Hawaii has a list of documents that you need to register students in public school. (You can find the full list here.)

For our girls, we needed:

  • birth certificates
  • transcripts from Texas
  • homeschool grades for time spent in the hotel
  • enrollment form (provided by the school)
  • home language survey (provided by the school)
  • parent/guardian photo ID
  • proof of current address (our signed lease)
  • tuberculosis clearance form
  • appointment slip for physical

I wish I had known about the physical and TB clearance before we arrived on island. We could have gotten the kids enrolled much sooner if we had gotten these done before leaving Texas.

The TB clearance was a fairly easy process. After Heff in-processed, we were able to go to the immunization clinic at the Desmond Doss Health Clinic on Schofield Barracks as a walk-in.

Since my children have never been to or lived with a someone from a country considered high risk for TB, they didn’t have to do the skin test. Getting the TB clearance took 45 minutes, but all it required was filling out a paper and having it signed by a nurse.

As for the physical, there weren’t any available appointments for 3-ish weeks. However, the school accepted an appointment slip until the kids could be seen by a doctor.

What to do after you get orders to Hawaii.
(The beautiful beach sunsets are worth all of the hassle.)

Make Hotel Reservations

On average, there were more than 249,000 visitors on the Hawaiian islands on any given DAY in 2019. That means that there were more than 10 MILLION visitors to the state that year! (These stats are from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.)

To say that Hawaii is a popular destination is a vast understatement. This place is BUSY!

As soon as you know when you’ll be arriving on the island, you should make hotel reservations ASAP. Keep in mind that peak tourist season is mid-December through April.

Enjoying the hotel pool after getting orders to Hawaii.

(Enjoying the hotel pool!)

Join Facebook Groups

One of the first things I did after getting orders to Hawaii was to join Hawaii vacation planning and hiking groups on Facebook. Not only did I find fun things to add to our Schofield Barracks Bucket List, but I learned SO MUCH about this PCS from Facebook groups, especially PCS’ing to Hawaii Military.

If I had questions about anything, I checked there first. There wasn’t a single question I had that someone hadn’t already asked in that group. Not to mention all of the things I never even considered that showed up in my feed.

I highly recommend joining some Hawaii military Facebook groups during your PCS.

We loved seeing all the beautiful flowers and plants in Hawaii.
(I’ve even learned about native flowers & plants in these Facebook groups.)

Getting orders to Hawaii is so dang exciting!

I can’t lie and tell you that its not also extremely stressful, but its worth it.

The next couple of years on this gorgeous island are going to be the experience of a lifetime. And I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for our family!

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