We don’t need to tell you: Moving is hard, and moving across the country can seem even more daunting. From packing belongings and finding a place to live to considering moving options and making new friends, moving across state lines is a time-consuming process that takes patience and planning. But if you need a guide for moving cross country, we can help.
While you likely feel a little overwhelmed, especially if you haven’t done this before, we will take you through how to do a cross-country move with less stress — and even give some tips that might save money in this often pricy process.
Preparing For Your Cross-Country Move One to Two Months in Advance
Decide if you want to DIY or hire professional movers
Start the prep by figuring out the logistics of your move, as in how you want to move cross country. Do you think that you’ll need professional help or can you pull off a DIY move? Simply put, are you going to hire a moving company or rent a truck?
If you’re renting a truck for your move, you can use our guide to the best truck rental companies to find one. For those considering bringing in professionals, read the next section to hear a step-by-step breakdown of the process.
Research professional movers, if you decide you need help
Here’s one of the most important tips in our guide for moving cross country: Be sure to interview at least three movers to compare quotes before deciding on one. For advice on what to ask your movers when you interview them, check out another one of our posts. We recommend that you research the companies eight weeks before the big move and get quotes, then hire them at least seven weeks beforehand.
First, visit our moving company directory to find reliable and reputable movers. This directory includes customer reviews, the moving company’s U.S. DOT number, the Better Business Bureau rating, and any official complaints filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can also find out whether the moving company has any association with the American Moving & Storage Association.
Next, check if an interstate mover is licensed by looking them up with their U.S. DOT number in the FMCSA’s database. You’ll also want to check and make sure the moving company is properly insured. Moving companies should be able to provide you with proper documentation to prove this.
Finally, movers should perform either an in-person inspection or a video survey of your belongings before giving you a quote. If the mover gives you a quote over the internet without looking at your belongings or gives you one that seems too good to be true, sound the alarm. These are two major red flags that shouldn’t be ignored.
Consider purchasing moving insurance
When hiring a moving company, you need to carefully look at your valuation coverage options. Remember, the company’s free, basic protection only covers the bare minimum.
If you decide that you need more protection, don’t hesitate to pay for the Full Value Protection, which will hold your mover accountable for the actual cash value of the items. Also, consider purchasing moving insurance from a third-party insurance company for more comprehensive coverage.
Visit your new city before moving
Before moving to another part of the country, we highly recommend making at least one trip to your new city or town. This way, you can get a good feel for the location and its various neighborhoods.
Bring a guidebook with you or head to the town’s visitor center for brochures, maps, and recommendations. Ask the concierge for suggestions if you’re staying in a hotel. In addition to the city’s tourist attractions, we recommend seeking out local hotspots and under-the-radar hangouts. We’re sure the locals you meet along the way will be happy to give you their two cents!
… Or research your new neighborhood remotely
You can find plenty of information about your new city or town through internet research and review sites if you’re unable to visit. Check Walk Score to see how navigable your new city or town will be on foot, by bike, or by public transit. Sign up for Nextdoor to meet your future neighbors and get the hyper-local feel of your new neighborhood. Or, find out the livability score on AreaVibes. For those who don’t mind paying for the subscription, dig deeper with Neighborhood Scout, which will provide information on real estate, demographics, crime, schools, and more for your new area.
You can also “visit” your new neighborhood using Google Street View in Google Maps. Google compiles street view imagery by using cameras that simultaneously collect images in multiple directions. The images are later overlapped and stitched together into a single 360-degree image. After clicking on “Street View & 360°” you can zoom in and rotate the view. Keep in mind that these images are not always updated, but they’re still useful.
Research schools in the area
Speaking of research, do you have school-age children? Then, you might want to take this next step before proceeding with our guide for moving cross country. Make researching schools in your new city a high priority on your cross-country moving checklist. If you plan to send your child to public school, determine where your schools of interest are located and go from there.
To find top-rated schools in your new neighborhood, use Moving.com’s School Ratings, which includes GreatSchools ratings and other helpful information. You can also find additional info on the respective school board’s website.
Budget for your move
Moving cross country won’t be cheap. But maybe, our guide for moving cross country can save you some hard-earned cash. First, consider the average cost of hiring professional movers for an out-of-state move is $4,890 (for a distance of 1,000 miles). Even if you’re planning a DIY move, you’ll still have to pay for a truck rental or container, moving supplies, and other various expenses.
Next, figure out your budget. Start with how much you are willing (and able to) spend on the move. Then, list out all necessary moving expenses. Most importantly, remember to put a bit of extra money aside for unexpected costs.
Look into the cost of living
Not only will you need to budget for the move, but you’ll also need to budget for afterward. If you already know where you’re moving to, having some idea of the cost of living will help you narrow down your housing search and find a job that can support your lifestyle. And if you’re keeping your options open regarding where you’ll live, comparing the cost of living of multiple cities can help you choose one more wisely. Look at the cost of housing, utilities, education, healthcare, food, transportation, and taxes.
Visit sites, like Numbeo and AreaVibe, that provide this specific information. Moving.com’s City Profile reports give you a snapshot of demographics, finances, and other quality-of-life factors, so you can find a place where you’ll feel at home. It also features the U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and projections, Bureau of Labor household income and jobs data, and residential data, including median house value and commute times.
Budget for the changes in tax amounts
For the year of the move, plan to pay taxes in two states. To establish residency in a new state, you’ll need to file your tax returns in that state, and, likely, in your old home state, too. It may be a good idea to hire an accountant before the first year to help with the transition. Though, these days, any tax software can guide you along.
The one scenario where you won’t need to pay taxes in two states is when you are moving to a state without an income tax. Those who aren’t will need to find out when to start paying property taxes on their home. Property tax rates vary state by state, so any increases should be budgeted for as well.
Research employer relocation assistance
Are moving cross country for a job? Then, check whether or not your employer plans to cover your moving expenses. Though it’s not a requirement, many companies offer some sort of job relocation package to employees. A job relocation package typically covers part or all of an employee’s moving expenses, and these packages can be negotiated more often than not.
Whether you’re a new employee moving for the job or an existing employee who’s being transferred to another location, it’s in your best interest to pay as little as you can when moving. To start the process, ask your company if they are willing to offer you a relocation budget, then read our opinion of what should be included in a job relocation package to help you stay informed and negotiate accordingly.
Create a moving file and checklist
A moving checklist can help you complete every task you need to accomplish for your upcoming move. We have several moving checklists available, so make sure to choose the one that best suits your needs, whether you’re moving with kids or moving with pets. You can also make a custom moving checklist by combining several of ours in a way that best suits your needs.
Filing all documents in a moving file or binder is another great way to stay organized (and sane). It’s important to keep track of all moving-related documents, like your moving estimate, bill of lading, inventory documentation, copy of the “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet, and so on. Then, you’ll also need to store important paperwork and documentation related to changing your billing address (e.g. credit cards, utilities, and memberships), as well as your driver’s license and voter registration, school records, and pet-related documentation.
Find a place to live
Ideally, you’d like to find a new place to live before you move. But unless you know the area well already or have a strong intention to buy immediately, we recommend renting for the first six months while you get a feel for the city. To find a safe, budget-friendly place to live, hire a reputable realtor to show you homes in your neighborhood(s) of choice.
A knowledgeable real estate agent should seamlessly guide you through your house-hunting venture. They should know the local market inside and out and be able to help you with all legalities and paperwork involved with the process. Check Realtor.com’s network of realtors to find a real estate agent in your new state.
Order all of your moving supplies
Order your moving supplies at least a month before the move, so you can start packing as soon as possible. To figure out how many boxes you’re going to need, check our packing calculator for an estimate. Packing supplies include boxes, packing tape and paper, plastic and bubble wrap, shipping tape, labels, and markers.
You’ll also need moving supplies if you’re doing a DIY move, like a basic tool set (for taking apart and putting together furniture), dollies, furniture pads/moving blankets, lifting and cargo straps, and a ramp. Our definitive list of moving supplies should have any other supplies that you need to consider before you purchase them.
Come up with a strategic packing plan
Before packing up your things, come up with a plan. If you pack strategically, it will make unpacking in your new home a whole lot easier. We recommend packing all non-essentials first. Non-essentials are anything you won’t need in the weeks leading up to the move, including books, home decor items, and/or large electronics.
Pack your essentials last. These should include kitchen items, dinnerware, toiletries, small electronics, and any seasonal clothes you plan to wear while moving and immediately afterward.
Lighten your load while you can
The cost of your cross-country move is largely dependent on the weight of your belongings. The more you move, the more your move will cost. Given that most cross-country moves cost several thousand dollars, you’ll want to save money where you can, which means you might want to think about lightening your load.
To make your packing easier, donate items that you will no longer need in your new home to a local charity. Better yet, donate them to one that will pick up your donation for free, like the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, or Goodwill. Of course, pick-ups have to meet certain standards, but if there’s anything larger you’re looking to get rid of, like a sofa or entertainment center, these services can come in handy.
Make the necessary travel arrangements
Moving long distances usually involves making travel arrangements. Just make sure to arrange your travel plans well before the move. Examples of travel arrangements to consider include booking a plane ticket or car rental, making a hotel reservation, or arranging other overnight plans if needed.
Oftentimes, it takes moving companies a week or more to deliver belongings. So, make sure you also have plans set for temporary housing if necessary, or if you’re staying in your new place, ensure that any other necessities you might need in the meantime, such as clothing, cookware, or toiletries, are on hand.
Schedule and transfer your utilities
Be sure to contact your utility providers and let them know that you are moving. Think cable and internet, water and sewer, gas, electricity, and security system if applicable.
Already have a permanent address in your new state? Don’t be shy! Go ahead and schedule a transfer or installation date. You can schedule it well in advance, so you don’t have to worry about it during the most stressful parts of your move.
Cancel or transfer all memberships
Unless you want to get stuck paying for a gym you no longer use, we recommend canceling or transferring all memberships as soon as possible. This also goes for community clubs, fitness studios, or homeowner or neighborhood associations.
Many membership programs need at least one month’s notice before canceling an account. If you’re in a contract, they’re typically pretty forgiving to those moving more than 50 miles away. Now, if the city that you’re moving to happens to have locations in the area, then make sure to transfer the membership before moving. This way, you can access the club as soon as you’re ready to resume your visits.
Transfer your professional licenses
Our guide for moving cross country has you covered if you are a licensed professional, such as a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, or realtor. Why? Because we don’t want you to forget to transfer your professional license.
Every state has different licensing requirements and transfer policies. Research them in advance, so you won’t have any employment gaps. It will also be helpful if you already have a job lined up and want to begin working soon after you arrive at your new home.
Notify schools of the move and transfer records
Moving with school-aged children? You’ll need to notify their current school of the move. When enrolling your kids in their new school, you’ll also need to transfer school records as soon as possible.
Other important documents you might need to send to the new school include recommendation letters, medical records, and evidence of immunization. Make sure to ask the new school for a list of any books or other materials needed, as well as extracurriculars offered by the school.
Discuss the move with your children
Those moving with children should discuss the move with their kids ahead of time, so there aren’t any surprises. By including your children in the conversation early on, it will help give them time to process the big move.
Not only that, but it will also give them plenty of time to say goodbye to peers, friends, neighbors, and teachers. Considering your timeline and bandwidth, you could even throw a goodbye party, where everyone can get together, to give them some closure.
Get your pet ready to travel
Several weeks out, research pet-friendly hotels where you can stay on the road. If you are flying, reserve space on your flight for your pet to accompany you. Each airline has its own regulations, and depending on your pet’s size, they may not be allowed to fly in the cabin.
Before you move, visit your vet to make sure your pet is up to date on shots and is in good health. Don’t forget to obtain all medical records and current medications prior to leaving, as it might take some time to establish a relationship with a new vet.
Arrange a car shipping service
If you are not planning on driving your car to the new home, you need to arrange for a car shipping service to do it for you. There are multiple shipping options to consider, including shipping the car via Amtrak’s Auto Train, hiring a professional driver to drive it for you, or using an auto transport company.
Those, using an auto transport company to move their cars, can choose either an open-air carrier or an enclosed carrier. The most popular option is the open-air carrier, which holds multiple cars and is usually more affordable than the alternative. However, if you have a valuable or antique car, we recommend the enclosed carrier option to keep it out of any unwanted elements.
Empty your storage unit
Make sure to empty your storage unit before the move if you don’t plan on returning. Check your storage company’s website well in advance for guidelines on what to do when you need to cancel a storage unit.
Oftentimes, they’ll ask you to clean out the unit, leaving it in its original condition. They’ll also want you to inform them as soon as you’ve vacated the unit. Once you’ve moved your belongings to the new home, go ahead and unpack these items with the rest of your stuff, unless you decide to rent another storage unit in your new location.
Study the home’s floor plan before ordering furniture
You’ll need a detailed copy of your new home’s floor plan before the move. Not only will this make it easier to plan what goes where, but it will also help when ordering furniture and other household needs.
Furniture can take weeks (sometimes months) to arrive, so you’ll want to order any necessary items before the move. Having a floor plan with the correct measurements will make this easier to do and will ensure that what you order will fit in the home.
Forward your mail
Forwarding your snail mail is easy and can be done well ahead of time. All you have to do is go to USPS.com and choose the date you wish to begin forwarding your mail.
Thinking of renting a P.O. Box in your new city? Then, take a tip from our guide for moving cross country, and check out Moving.com’s guide to setting up a P.O. Box when you move.
Let others know you are moving
Don’t forget to let your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers know you’re moving! But chances are that you won’t have time to sit down with everyone individually in person to tell them about the move.
Instead, try sending a simple email with your new mailing address and any other additional details about the move you wish to share. You could also organize a “going away” party or gathering to give yourself a designated time and place to say proper goodbyes.
Document your belongings
As you box up your belongings, we recommend taking photos and/or videos of all items to document the condition of those belongings at the beginning of the move. This way, if anything breaks or becomes damaged while in the hands of the movers, you will have proof that they were mishandled.
Later down the line, this could extremely helpful with filing a claim and seeking compensation for your belongings. Nothing is better than proof to compare the before and after in these scenarios.
Reserve some extra time for family
When you move cross country, you leave behind loved ones, like your family members. Take the time to say goodbye to family and even close friends. You’ll want to schedule time one-on-one with these important people in your life. Ask them out for lunch or dinner, or spend a day sharing a favorite activity with them, such as going to the movies.
Then, say a final goodbye to everyone. This could be as informal as asking everyone to meet at your favorite hangout spot or a more structured affair at your home, like a farewell party. Either way, it will give you one last chance to connect with your loved ones before leaving the state.
Preparing For Your Cross-Country Move With a Few Days Left
Confirm the moving date and arrival time with the movers
A good moving company will call to confirm the details of your move at least a week beforehand. Regardless, we recommend following up that week to ensure that movers arrive at the correct address on the correct moving date.
If nothing else, this should give you peace of mind and will make the move less stressful. Plus, you’ll have a window to know when everything needs to be wrapped up on your end.
Arrange for cleaners to conduct a move-out cleaning
Unless you plan on cleaning the house or apartment yourself, you’re going to need to hire someone to conduct a deep cleaning of the home. If you’re renting, you’ll also need to make sure that all repairs have been completed before the move.
Usually, landlords want walls repainted and nail holes repaired before the tenant moves out. Make sure to check with your landlord about what needs cleaning and changing before moving away.
Pack a suitcase of essentials to take with you
Here’s yet another important tip from our guide for moving cross country: Moving long distance means you likely won’t receive belongings for at least a week after the move. Even with a DIY move, most everything you move will be in boxes, making it difficult to find what you need as you begin settling into your new house.
We recommend packing a suitcase with at least one week’s worth of essentials. This should include clothing, shoes, toiletries, medicine, a first aid kit, and chargers for electronics.
Give the keys to the new owners or landlord
Once you’ve moved out and no longer need the keys, it’s time to hand them over to the new owners or landlord. If you are selling your home with a realtor, you can usually rely on the agent to handle this process for you.
For those with landlords, you’ll want to coordinate with them to see whether they want to meet in person, or have you leave it hidden somewhere on the property. They might even want you to hand it over to the new tenants, so it’s best to check in advance. Whatever you do, we don’t recommend mailing the key, as items can get lost in the mail.
Preparing For Your Cross-Country Move on Moving Day
Entertain the kids and secure your pets
Having kids and pets underfoot can complicate moving days. Hire a babysitter for young children, and keep older ones occupied with games and activities. You can also set up playdates for them with special friends and family members before you hit the road.
When it comes to your pets, secure them somewhere safe, so they don’t interfere with the moving process, or worse yet, escape. You can use a gate, a crate, or a carrier, or arrange for them to be somewhere else altogether.
Ask the driver for a contact number
When moving across the country, it can take a week or more for your belongings to arrive. To stay up to date with the status of the moving truck, you’ll want to ask the driver for their contact information.
Whether by phone or email, your moving company should provide some way for you to track your driver. Often, a representative at the moving company will contact the driver on your behalf. So, there’s no need to worry too much. Just make sure you’re prepared ahead of time.
Bring important paperwork and valuables with you
Don’t pack valuables, such as jewelry and family heirlooms, with the rest of your belongings. Make sure to pack any valuables in a separate and secure bag.
The same goes for important paperwork and documents, like birth certificates or marriage licenses. When moving cross country, these should all be carried with you at all times to ensure that they stay safe.
Don’t forget to tip your movers for a job well done
Moving across the country doesn’t require a higher tipping rate or percentage. Feel like your movers did an excellent job? For moves completed by one crew, we recommend this simple formula to make your life easier and the tipping process more uniform: Tip $10 per hour per mover.
If the crews on both ends did a good job, we recommend tipping both crews — the crew that loaded your belongings at your old home and the crew that unloaded them at your new home. Start with $10 per hour per mover on both ends of the move. You can always increase or decrease the amount based on job performance.
What To Do After Your Cross-Country Move
Have an unpacking plan
Once you get to your new home, start unpacking your essentials bag right away. Make the beds you need for the night, and then, focus on the kitchen. Having a functional kitchen will make your new place feel more like home. Better yet, you won’t have to rely on takeout to feed yourself and your family.
Next, focus on the bathroom and living room. As you begin to unpack other rooms, you should realize that you don’t have to unpack everything in one week or even one month. Take your time, but consider scheduling a housewarming party, so you have a deadline to have all your boxes unpacked.
Get a new driver’s license
You’ll need a new driver’s license, which you can obtain from your new state’s DMV. Be sure to check your state’s requirements, as many states require new residents to get their driver’s licenses within a specific time frame after moving.
Keep in mind that while requirements for transferring a driver’s license vary from state to state, you’ll most likely need your current driver’s license, proof of residency, and social security number card, at the very least
Register to vote
Update your voter registration as soon as you move. This way, you can vote and participate in any and all upcoming elections. Also, you won’t be caught in a lurch once you discover it’s too late to register for the next election.
Thankfully, there are usually multiple ways to register to vote, including in-person voter registration, mail-in registration, or online registration. Pick which one is best for you, and take care of this very important next step in your cross-country moving process.
Schedule a handyman
Moving to a new home often involves hanging art, mounting TVs, and doing other handiwork to make the place feel more like your own. It also might mean making simple repairs or switching out fixtures.
Make sure to find a reputable, reliable handyman once you begin to settle into your new home. Then, you can get these to-dos taken care of as soon as possible. Try to find reputable professionals on apps like Thumbtack, or websites, such as Angi (formerly Angie’s List).
License your pet
It’s mandatory to license your cat or dog in most states. A license ensures that animals are current on all of their vaccinations, including rabies shots, and will not put the community at risk.
Once you get settled, be sure to license your pet. While requirements and deadlines vary depending on the state, many places require owners to register their pets within a month of moving or acquiring the pet.
Check your belongings for damage
As you unpack your belongings, make sure to carefully examine each item, particularly large or valuable items, such as furniture, electronics, or artwork. If belongings were damaged or broken while in transit, you may be able to file a claim and receive financial compensation for your compromised items.
This is where any documentation you took of your belongings prior to the move will come in handy! Simply compare the condition of your items to the photos or videos taken before the move, and make notes of the differences. These photos will help to prove your claim, as well.
Pamper yourself when time allows
Make settling in less stressful, and give yourself a break when time allows. Take a walk, read a book, or meditate. A trip to the gym or your local yoga studio can reduce stress and anxiety, too.
If you have the time to spare, you could even plan a spa day. But even a nap will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face unpacking, organizing, and moving furniture again.
Don’t be afraid to meet new friends
Meeting people and making new friends takes time and energy when you first move to a new city, especially if you don’t know anyone. We recommend starting with neighbors and coworkers. Then, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself when you run across someone new, and strike up a good conversation.
Other ways to meet people in a new city include taking classes, joining a club or app, getting involved in the community, volunteering, or just saying “yes” when potential friends ask you to join them for dinners, events, and so forth.
10 Tips on How To Save Money on Your Cross-Country Move
Moving across the country is expensive, but with some careful planning, you can potentially cut some costs. As we keep rolling with our guide for moving cross country, here are some pointers.
DIY your move
Packing up your belongings and driving them to your new home is the cheapest way to move. This might mean doing a lot of decluttering, donating, and selling your belongings. If the cost of a move is a significant factor, this might be the best way to go, though.
Not only are truck rentals a big money saver when it comes to moving, but they’re also easy to come by. Truck rental options include U-Haul, Budget, Enterprise, and Penske. Besides gas expenses, there are some other costs associated with a DIY move, such as the truck rental itself.
Consider a portable moving container
There are cheaper alternatives to hiring professional movers that will keep your moving costs low. For example, you can rent a portable moving container. These moving containers can also double as temporary storage containers, too.
Renting a portable moving container for an out-of-state move may cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per month. Keep in mind that the cost depends on the rental duration and size of the container.
Choose a hybrid move
A hybrid move is part DIY move and part hiring professional moving help. For instance, you could do all the packing yourself and hire moving pros to help you move the items onto a rented truck or van.
And, once you get to your new place, you’d hire another team of movers in that location to help you unload. You can also opt to do all the packing and loading yourself, then hire a company to transport your items. Essentially, you can outsource any part of your move that you don’t want to do or are unable to do.
Choose a cheaper moving date
The moving date can make a big impact on the cost of your relocation. Avoiding peak moving days and times could save you money on truck rentals, professional movers, and more.
A few peak moving dates to avoid (if possible) include weekends, the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and the first and last weeks of the month. Aim for a mid-week, mid-month move between October and April.
Ship your belongings
While this isn’t the most popular moving option, shipping your belongings is a great way to move cross country when moving only a small amount of items. It also might be one of the most convenient moving options.
In addition to shipping items via USPS, FedEx, and UPS, you can also ship larger objects through various service providers online, such as uShip.com. Whatever you do, conduct plenty of research beforehand, so that the cost doesn’t catch you off guard.
Find free moving boxes and supplies
One of the best ways to cut costs on a long-distance move is by gathering and using as many free moving supplies as possible. Seek out used boxes, packing paper, and bubble wrap from nearby retailers, online marketplaces, or community groups.
The best places to look for free moving supplies include Craigslist, the Nextdoor app, bookstores, offices, recycling drop-off points, grocery and liquor stores, local schools, and big-box retailers. We also recommend asking friends and family for any extra boxes or supplies.
Reuse original boxes for electronics and appliances
Speaking of free moving boxes, don’t forget to reuse your old ones from prior purchases. From the TV to the InstantPot, most electronics and counter appliances come packaged in cardboard boxes.
If you happen to still have these boxes, we recommend reusing them for the move. Not only does this ensure that your items will fit perfectly in the box, but it also saves you from having to spend money on something as miscellaneous as boxes.
Have your employer pay for the move
Land a new job? Congrats! If you’re moving for work, we highly recommend inquiring about the company’s relocation policies. Many companies will pay for all or part of the move, so it’s certainly worth asking the HR department before your first day. They may even have their own preferred company of cross-country movers.
If your company does pay for the relocation, be sure to save all moving receipts, even your receipts for moving supplies. This way, you’ll be able to document your expenses and get properly reimbursed for the move.
Ask friends and family for help
Besides hiring moving labor, you can always ask friends and family to help. If you’re looking for the cheapest way to move cross country, this is probably it.
However, you may have to work around other people’s schedules. You’ll also want to consider paying your family members and friends back in another way. Think pizza, wine, or a gift card — a little goes a long way!
Look for discounts where you can
Before moving day, do your research on moving companies, moving containers, truck rentals, and moving supply retailers that offer deals and discounts. These discounts can often be so generous that they make a previously expensive moving company the most cost-effective option.
For those who serve or have served in the military, you can find various military discounts through PODS, U-Pack, Budget, Penske, North American Van Lines, and more. Member of AAA? You can also save on moving services at Atlas Van Lines and on storage services at Extra Space Storage and Penske. Finally, those looking for moving supplies, like bubble wrap and other packing materials, can find additional deals and discounts through Moving.com’s box center.
10 Road Trip Tips for Cross-Country Moving
Moving across the country is the perfect excuse to plan the ultimate road trip, especially if you’re leaving all the heavy lifting to the professionals. If a professional moving company is transporting your belongings, you won’t have to deal with driving a large and difficult-to-maneuver moving truck, keeping your boxes and items safe during the move, and the time constraints that come with renting a moving truck.
Even if you’re driving yourself, you can have plenty of fun on the road. While not as easy as flying, driving across the country using your own car can be rewarding in a lot of ways. Of course, a road trip should always be well planned. Without proper preparation, you could run into trouble along the way. Here are 10 road trip tips to keep in mind while you’re moving across the country.
Plan your cross-country route
Your first step in this process would be planning the route that you wish to take during your cross-country move. Decide which sites and/or relatives and friends you’d want to see along the way, and plan your route around these visits and stops to your final destination.
Other considerations to make when planning a road trip include any highway or traffic concerns, weather warnings, or any areas you wish to avoid for one reason or another. Once you’ve decided which interstates and routes to take, research gas stations, restaurants, and rest stop options.
Create a road trip budget
When driving across the country, it’s important to create a budget for all necessary expenses. This way, you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll need to spend on food, gas, and hotels before hitting the road.
If you’re hiring a professional moving company to move your household belongings, chances are that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg. Be sure to consider this expense when determining your overall road trip budget.
Prepare your car for traveling long distance
Have you serviced your car lately? If you plan to drive your own car (and not a rental), have it serviced prior to embarking on your cross-country road trip. Fluid levels, tire pressure, and brakes should be checked.
You should also make sure that the lights, tech features, and car battery are all working correctly. And of course, don’t forget to change your oil and fill up your gas tank, if needed.
Bring a cooler
It’s always a good idea to have a cooler on hand during a road trip. Not only will you save time on unnecessary stops for food, but you’ll also be able to keep extra snacks and beverages cool while traveling. Talk about convenience!
Worried about keeping the cooler cold? Fortunately, it’s easy to drain most coolers and find refill bags of ice at gas stations and grocery stores while on the way to your new home.
Prepare a playlist or download podcasts
Listening to a mix of upbeat music and entertaining podcasts is the best way to make a long cross-country road trip go by faster. So, before you head out on the road, compile a playlist of your favorite songs.
Keep in mind that you may lose radio or phone signals while driving. Downloading the media before the road trip begins ensures that you’ll still be able to listen to music and podcasts without interruption.
Make hotel arrangements in advance
When planning your route, decide when and where you want to stop. Then, you can book your hotel arrangements in advance, so that you aren’t stuck spending the night in a strange place or even in your car.
You also won’t have to pay any outrageous, last-minute prices and may even get a worthwhile discount. And if you plan to stay with friends or family, give them plenty of notice ahead of time.
Time your drive well
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to driving cross country. We recommend sticking to daytime travel to avoid getting drowsy or combatting any dark, unfamiliar roads. Keep any time zone changes in mind as you drive to your destination, too.
Also, conduct research beforehand on the best and worst times to drive through certain areas. For instance, if it’s college football season, you may want to avoid specific highways during Saturday afternoons. Otherwise, you could get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic and add even more time to your already lengthy road trip.
Use packing cubes to maximize space in your suitcase
Unfortunately, you only have so much room in your car for personal belongings. Make sure that clothes and personal items are packed in an easy-to-maneuver suitcase that can be hauled in and out of hotels during your road trip.
To maximize space in your suitcase, we recommend using packing cubes. These efficient packing tools allow you to squeeze as much into your suitcase as possible, while also staying organized on the road. While you’re at it, check out our tips for packing a suitcase for a move.
Make sure all necessary documents are in the car
Before hitting the road, make sure you have all necessary documents pertaining to your car readily on hand. We mean documents like a valid driver’s license, proof of car insurance, vehicle registration, owner’s manual for the car, and car title. You’ll need this paperwork in case you’re involved in a car accident, pulled over by the police, or run into car trouble.
Also, keep all identity-related documents, such as your birth certificate and social security card, with you at all times. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your new home and have trouble remembering where you’ve stored such vital documents.
Keep in touch with your moving company and its driver
With all of the sites to visit and people to see along the way, it’s easy to forget the reason for the road trip in the first place, which is your move! Whatever happens, don’t lose track of your mover’s whereabouts, though.
Make sure to call your driver for an update and an ETA every few days. That way, you can either plan to be there when the driver arrives or schedule a friend or family member to meet the driver and oversee the unloading part of the move.
10 Tips for Moving Cross Country By Plane
Moving by plane can be a convenient alternative to moving by truck or car. Sometimes, it may just be your best (or only) option, like when you need to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
While it may seem like a daunting task, moving by plane can actually be both cost-effective and relatively stress free. So, here are 10 tips for making your next move by plane.
1. Make sure moving by plane is the right decision
If driving is an option, we recommend asking yourself these seven very important questions when deciding whether to fly or drive for a long-distance move.
- How far are you moving? The farther the move is, the more flying makes sense.
- How many belongings do you need to bring with you? When flying, you’ll only be able to bring several suitcases and carry-on bags with you. So, be sure to plan for that.
- Are your old and new homes near an airport? The distance to and from an airport is an important consideration when deciding whether to fly or drive for a long-distance move. If the new home is located near an airport, then we strongly recommend saving yourself the hassle of driving.
- How much time do you have to move? Are you in a time crunch? The quickest way to relocate is to fly, then. However, if you have flexible moving timeline options, driving might be more cost-effective.
- Do you have to move a car? This is another big question to ask yourself when moving cross country. For those looking to save money on auto transport, it’s best to drive. But if you prefer to fly for one reason or another, use a professional auto transporter.
- Are you traveling by yourself? You need to account for who is moving with you. Spouse or partner? Kids? Elderly relatives? And are there pets involved? Plane tickets will be more expensive than driving in many instances.
- Can you afford to fly? Flying is expensive, and moving by flying is even more so, especially when flying with multiple people or during certain times of the year. Then, there are baggage fees, pet fees, and meals while traveling. So, budget, plan ahead, and do your research before booking your tickets.
2. Plan, plan, and plan some more
In addition to browsing for the best ticket prices, you should also be researching baggage policies for different airlines early on in your planning process. Some airlines limit the number of bags and boxes that you can check, and all of them have rules dictating weight and size limits.
Depending on how much you need to bring with you, you may not be able to take everything on the flight, so it’s important to know exactly what the airline will allow — and how much it will cost — before booking a flight. To make sure you have the most up-to-date information on baggage policies, do your research online, but don’t be afraid to also call different airlines to inquire with them directly about how much you can bring along and how much they charge.
3. Get rid of some of your belongings
Moving by plane, especially if you’re planning on taking all of your items on board with you, often necessitates that you be pretty particular about what you do and don’t bring. How you narrow down your belongings will also depend on how permanent your move is and what sort of storage options you have available.
If you’re moving for the long haul, your best bet is to take some time to purge what you own. Try donating, recycling, or even throwing out items that you don’t need anymore.
4. Double your packing space
Once you know how many bags or boxes you can bring along with you and how much each container can weigh, you’ll have to get creative with packing in the most efficient way possible. Maximize space by packing clothes and linens in compression bags, which can easily double the number of items you can fit in each bag. Plus, they are especially useful for packing bulky items, like parkas, sweaters, and blankets.
Remember, compression bags are vacuum-sealed to suction out all the air, so they flatten as much as possible. You can also find travel-specific compression bags that can be flattened simply by rolling and don’t require a vacuum pump. Pretty convenient, right?
5. Know your airline’s pet-related restrictions
If you’re flying with your pet, research ahead of time what documents you need to have (proof of vaccination, for example), whether he or she needs to be microchipped, and where on the plane they can fly. A small dog or a cat can usually fly in a carrier that fits under a seat within the cabin.
On the other hand, larger animals have to fly in cargo. Regulations vary by airline, so do your research ahead of time. You know your dog or cat best and can manage their anxiety levels with the vet before departure.
6. Weigh your bags before you go
Don’t risk getting to the airport only to find out that your bags are too heavy to be checked. Instead, use a digital luggage scale to verify the weight of your containers before heading out — you can get a highly-rated one for as little as $10 online.
Most also come with built-in tape measures, so you can double-check that your bags don’t exceed the size limits imposed by the airline. Digital luggage scales are a small price to pay for not having to hold your breath at the check-in counter. Overweight bags often incur heavy fees and can easily blow your moving budget.
7. Ship your stuff as necessary
When you’re moving by plane, you might need to think outside of using the cargo area on your airline of choice. If the belongings that you want to bring exceed the baggage limits for the airline or you need to ship large furniture fragile items, you’ll need to resort to other shipping options.
Big-name couriers, like USPS, UPS, or FedEx, can securely pack and ship items to your new home. All in all, this option can get pretty expensive, so we only suggest considering it if you need to ship large or heavy items. However, if you’re moving cross country, it’s definitely an option you should consider.
8. Rent a moving container
Rent a moving container, which will be dropped off for you to pack at your convenience, then picked up and transported to your new home. As with any moving service, be sure to get quotes from at least three moving container companies ahead of time, so you can get the most affordable rate.
Luckily, Moving.com has you covered. Here, you can get a moving container quote quickly and easily. Hey, it’s one less thing you have to stress about checking off your to-do list!
9. Consider hiring professional movers
You can have the best of both worlds. That’s right — you can always hire a moving company to drive your belongings from your old home to your new one while you travel there by plane.
Use our moving cost calculator to get an estimate of how much you should expect to spend. Before you use it, you’ll need to know how much they’re taking and the distance that your movers will need to travel.
10. Check with the airline if you’re bringing boxes or household items
Here is the good news: You can bring small household items and devices, like desktop computers, clocks, and coffee makers, on your flight, according to TSA. Also, per TSA, you can generally check smaller pieces of furniture, as long as they fall within the required parameters. Some airlines charge additional fees, so please check with the airline in advance. Of course, big furniture items will need to be shipped or taken by movers.
As for boxes, you can certainly check them, as long as they fit the required dimensions. The air travel regulations have to do with the size and weight of the luggage you are bringing, and not necessarily the kind of luggage. So boxes, suitcases, sporting equipment, and backpacks are all accepted.
FAQs About Cross-Country Moving
To wrap up our guide for moving cross country, here are a few answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear.
When should I start planning my cross-country move?
Now, this might be one of the most important tips in our guide for moving cross country. We recommend allowing yourself at least two months before the big move to prepare. Start with researching moving companies and establishing your budget. For a detailed timeline, see our moving checklist.
What is the cheapest way to move cross country?
The cheapest way to move cross country is to DIY your move. You’ll likely save thousands of dollars this way because a full-service company can cost anywhere between $4,000 and $9,000. A truck rental is considerably more affordable at $1,200-$2,000. A quick query with U-Haul got us a quote of $2,760 to drive a 10-foot U-Haul truck from Miami to Los Angeles. For a 26-foot U-Haul truck, the quote was $3,633. If you pack yourself, you can save even more money on your move.
How much does it cost to move across the country?
Well, it all depends on how you move. If you hire a professional moving company, the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,300, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds and an average distance of 1,225 miles. The more cost-efficient solution is using a moving container. According to HireAHelper, renting a U-Pack moving container will cost on average $2,535 for a long-distance move.
How long do cross-country movers take to deliver my belongings?
You’ll have to consider the route, traffic, road conditions, road work, and possible delays due to mechanical issues. You should expect the driver to log up to eight hours a day, or 400-500 miles per day. You can do the math, but you also must allow extra time for unforeseen delays.
Do cross-country moving companies guarantee delivery dates?
Cross-country moving companies cannot guarantee delivery dates because there may be unforeseen circumstances along the way, such as inclement weather or mechanical problems. However, many cross-country moving companies offer online shipment tracking. This way, you can monitor its progress and be prepared for the arrival of your belongings.
Are instant quotes reliable?
You can get a ballpark idea with instant quotes. Until you hash out which services you’ll need with your moving coordinator and complete an inventory of your belongings, you won’t know the final cost of your move, though. As always, we recommend getting at least three quotes from different moving companies to access the best deal.
Ready for Your Cross-Country Move?
Get organized for your cross-country move by using Moving.com’s comprehensive Move Planner. It features customizable moving checklists, personal tasks list, helpful recommendations, email reminders, and plenty of coupons to get you organized.
When looking for the best moving company, refer to Moving.com’s guide to the best cross-country moving companies and our extensive network of reputable and reliable movers. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Good luck, and happy moving!
Finally, we thought you might want to check out these guides and articles related to cross-country moving.
25 Cross-Country Moving Tips That Will Save Your Sanity
13 Cheap Ways To Move Across the Country
21 Easy Moving Tips & Tricks
94 Moving Hacks for Faster, Easier, and Less Stressful Moves
A Checklist for Moving Out of State – Moving to Another State
10 Road Trip Tips for Driving Across the Country
Tips for a Smooth Move – How to Move Smoothly
How to Choose a Moving Company in 7 Simple Steps
10 Helpful Tips for Moving by Plane
5 Tips for Moving with Your Own Car
How to Establish Residency in a New State
Best Way to Move: Is It Better to Hire Movers or Move Yourself?
Moving Out of State: What It Will Cost & How to Prepare