Moving is stressful. Moving 2,000 miles? Now that’s stressful multiplied by, well, 2,000. Packing up your stuff and hauling it across the country can often feel like a road trip without any of the fun. You’ve got to think about fitting everything into your car or moving truck. You’ve got to pay for gas, food and hotel rooms. And every night you’ve got to fall asleep while trying not to think about how unsettling it is having all of your possessions sitting in a parking lot.
If you’re about to take on a cross country move, you can take comfort in knowing that it doesn’t have to be awful. In fact, it can even be fun. Here are 20 tips for cutting costs, staying safe, packing smart and enjoying the ride.
1. Get a lock for your moving truck and back into spots whenever possible. This prevents would-be thieves from breaking in.
2. Live out of one small suitcase full of essentials so that you don’t have to unpack any boxes to find stuff.
3. Sell or donate items that you’re not super attached to before you move. You’ll save space and have extra gas money.
4. If you’ve rented a large moving truck or are towing a moving trailer, download an RV GPS app to help you find routes that will accommodate any extra length and height.
5. Never let your gas go below a quarter of a tank (especially if you’re driving across I-70 through Utah).
6. If moving for work, ask to be reimbursed for moving expenses or at least save your receipts so that you can deduct them from your taxes.
7. If you’re a student or just a book lover, use media mail to send up to 70 pounds of books for an insanely cheap price.
8. Consider getting a cargo carrier for the top of your car.
9. If your moving time is flexible, move during the summer and save money by camping instead of staying in hotels.
10. Keep a detailed inventory of what is in each box. You’ll thank yourself when it’s time to unpack.
11. Pack valuable items in hard to reach spaces, like the back of the trunk or moving truck. Label boxes containing valuable items with something innocuous (i.e. “towels” instead of “box o’ diamonds”). Always evaluate what is visible in your parked car to passersby.
12. Fact: Small trailers are typically cheaper than moving trucks.
13. Consider moving the big items by using PODS. This is a small shipping container that is delivered to you. You fill it and then PODS delivers it to your new home or to a storage facility in your new hometown.
14. If you have large items that aren’t heavy, ship with Amtrak Express Shipping. They charge by weight, not volume. This is a great way to ship a bike if you don’t have a bike mount on your car.
15. Traveling with your fur baby? Be aware of pet friendly hotel chains like La Quinta, (up to two pets are allowed per room and there are no fees).
16. Pack one box of things you’ll need right away in your new home. This should include essentials like something to eat off of, toilet paper and a towel.
17. Think vertical and horizontal when packing your moving truck. Pack the heavy stuff at the bottom and work your way all the way to the top. Leave as little room as possible so that items won’t shift around and break.
18. Get free moving boxes from your local liquor store—along with a bottle of bubbly to pop when you arrive!
19. Learn how to rent an apartment sight unseen so that you’re actually happy about your new home when you get to it.
20. Most importantly, pick a few things to see along the way, whether they’re crazy roadside attractions, cities you’ve always wanted to visit or friends you haven’t seen in awhile. Enjoy the journey. You’ll be home before you know it.