As I sit here typing in my office surrounded by unopened boxes, my military family is finally settling into our new duty assignment at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. As much as I want to see every box in my house magically disappear, I can’t seem to bring myself to stay home and unpack any more boxes.
Perhaps it’s because Chevrolet was kind enough to drop off the best reason to abandon house, boxes and all:
As you know, NextGen MilSpouse is proudly partnering with Chevrolet to celebrate all the ways military families find new roads during Military Appreciation Month. What better way to find new roads than to get behind the wheels of a brand-spankin’ new 2015 Chevrolet Equinox?
I’m not sure if it was the lure of the new car smell or the crazy-awesome technology available in this car, but my family found all the inspiration we needed to get off base and explore downtown Montgomery, Ala.
With 23 years as a military brat and another 11 years as a military spouse under my proverbial belt, I feel like I’ve figured out what it takes to make every single duty assignment a fabulous experience even if it isn’t your most ideal location. Here are my 10 tips for making this and every future military duty assignment rock!
10 Tips for Making Every Military Duty Assignment Rock
1. Learn What the Locals Do and Do It
Have you ever arrived somewhere and found yourself wondering, “What the heck do people do here for fun?” Stop wondering and find out!
In rural areas a lot of activities revolve around local high schools, colleges, festivals, fundraisers, county fairs, and convention centers.
Live near rivers and beaches? Chances are your locals are tubing, boating, surfing, paddleboarding and sunning.
Living big city life? You might have so much to do you won’t know where to start! Concerts, sports events, museums, walking tours, restaurants…you name it!
2. Find a Place Where Everyone Will Know Your Name
Now that I’ve shown my age with a corny Cheers reference, I can’t tell you how awesome it is to find a great local (not chain) restaurant or coffee house to adopt as “your place.” For us, it doesn’t even have to be the best food in the world, so long as it’s the best customer service in the world. It’s amazing how much more delicious the food is when the service comes with a “Are you getting the usual?” Yes, please.
3. Dig into the History
Every where you go, there’s a story to find. Seek out your town/city/county story and gain a new appreciation for your adopted hometown. You might be surprised at what you learn and it might explain a lot about why your new location is the way it is!
4. Find a Location Lover (Not a Fighter)
You know that person who can’t find anything nice to say about your new duty assignment? Don’t ask them for local advice. Seek advice from local lovers. Find the military spouse who knows where to get the best cup of coffee or has the inside scoop on where to find the best produce. Chances are they’re dying to tell you what they’ve found. A win-win all around.
5. Become One with the Events Calendar
Everywhere has something to offer if you just know where to look. One of the first places I start is with the local event calendar maintained and populated by the local newspaper. You can check it out online in most cases. Feeling a little retro? Take it old school and get a subscription! Reading the local paper is the best way to get a feel for a new location.
6. Make the Mundane Fundane
In more tame locales where there isn’t a ton of activity, make your own fun! Make routines that make you feel like every weekend is the best staycation ever! Maybe you start off every morning at the gym or on Saturday afternoons you take Fido to the dog park. Consider joining intramural sports teams for adults and social clubs (or start your own). You might find that a slower pace of life suits you just fine.
7. Don’t Forget Your Base (Post, Installation, Fort…Whatever You Call It)
Color me surprised about how many fun activities is happening on base! Many installations have their own event calendars full of picnics, trips, family days, ceremonies and more! Check your local MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) Office and website to learn more about fun community events on your installation. Most installations have their own websites and Facebook pages too!
8. Get Down with ITT
One of my favorite places to answer the question, “What are we going to do this weekend?” is to visit our installation ITT (Information, Tickets and Tours) Office. Think of ITT as the military’s version of AAA. At ITT you can get your hands on discounted tickets for movie theaters, local events (concerts, sporting events) and local attractions (and way more). Chances are, if there’s something to do in your town, ITT knows what’s up.
9. Take a One-Tank Road Trip
If city living is getting you down, jump in the car and go find new roads with a mini-road trip! It’s amazing where you can go on one tank of gas. From Montgomery, we can make a round trip to Selma (history), Birmingham (city), or Mobile (beach). A road trip is a great way to take a break from your every day and incorporate a little adventure in your life!
10. Embrace the Mantra “Everything is Temporary”
I challenge you to become the Location Lover at every duty assignment! After all, each assignment is just one brief moment on this big military adventure. Before you know it, someone’s ripping away your super sweet Chevy Equinox….oh wait…that’s embarrassing…
What I meant to say was, before you know it the adventure is over. Wouldn’t it be awesome to look back and say “What an amazing adventure?!”
You Tell Us: What’s your #1 tip for making the most of every duty assignment?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chevrolet via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.