Essentials for Moving Cross Country

Listen to this article about Essentials for Moving Cross Country!

The boxes are packed, the truck is loaded, and you’re ready to embark on your moving cross country adventure. But wait – did you remember everything? Moving to a new place is exciting but also stressful. As someone who has moved coast to coast more than once, I’ve learned a few things the hard way. I aim to help make your move as smooth as possible by sharing the essential moving checklist I wish I had had before my first big move. Whether moving solo, with a family, or furry friends in tow, use this list to ensure your bases are covered before hitting the open road. When you arrive at your new home, you’ll be ready to start the next chapter refreshed, recharged, and with the peace of mind that you didn’t forget anything important. Let the adventure begin!

Create a Moving Budget

As a single person moving cross country, creating a budget is essential. I’ve moved long distances alone before, and it can get pricey if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to keep costs under control:

  1. Calculate moving costs. Get estimates from at least 3 moving companies for the size of your move. Factor in additional fees like fuel surcharges, tolls, and packing supplies.
  2. Set a moving budget and stick to it. Once you have estimates, determine how much you can afford to spend and track all expenses against your budget. Look for ways to cut costs, like packing yourself, removing unnecessary items, or moving during the off-season.
  3. Factor in other relocation costs. Remember things like temporary housing, transportation, and time off work. If you’re moving for a new job, see if your employer will provide relocation assistance.
  4. Look for ways to save money along the way. Book hotels in advance, pack snacks and meals for the drive and fill up your gas tank before hitting the road. Every little bit helps when you’re on a budget.

Moving to a new place is exciting but can be expensive. By planning ahead, getting organized, and budgeting correctly, you’ll feel more in control of costs and better able to enjoy this new chapter without money worries. Staying within budget may require sacrifices, but with some creativity, you can make your move affordable and keep some cash in your pocket for exploring your new city!

Choose a Moving Company or Do It Yourself

As a single person moving cross country, it seems appealing to save money, but hiring movers is probably your best option.

I COULD HANDLE IT SOLO when I moved from New York to California. Boy, was I wrong! Renting a big truck, loading and unloading all my stuff, then driving it halfway across the country was way more than I bargained for. When I arrived, I was exhausted, and my belongings were a mess.

If I could do it over, here’s what I’d do:

  • Research moving companies and compare quotes. Look for reputable companies with good reviews. Get estimates for full-service packing and loading so you don’t have to lift a finger.
  • See if you can get time off work for the move. Moving is stressful enough without rushing. Give yourself at least a week to pack up your place and prepare.
  • Pack an essentials bag for the drive. Include snacks, chargers, pillows, blankets, a change of clothes, toiletries, medications, and any essential documents.
  • Make lodging arrangements for overnight stops. If you have pets, book pet-friendly hotels in advance.
  • Remember to update your address for bills, subscriptions, insurance, etc. The last thing you need is mail piling up at your old place!

While doing it yourself seems thrifty and adventurous, hiring professionals is worth the investment for a significant move across states. Your back, your belongings, and your sanity will thank you. Take it from me—some things in life are better left to the experts!

Pack a Moving Essentials Bag

When moving cross country, one of the most important things you can do is pack an essentials bag to have with you for the drive. This bag will contain things you’ll need easy access to on your multi-day road trip.

Clothing and toiletries

Pack comfortable clothes, pajamas, a jacket, socks, underwear, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, a hairbrush, and any medications you regularly take. These items will make long travel days and overnight stops more bearable. Remember chargers for your electronic devices!

Snacks and drinks

Road trips mean lots of time between meal stops, so bring snacks to avoid getting hungry. Granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, and jerky are good options. And, of course, bottled water and other non-alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated.


Whether moving solo or with family, entertainment will make time pass faster. Pack books, magazines, portable chargers, pillows, blankets, cards, small toys, and anything else that will keep you occupied. Remember a map or navigation system to help guide you to your new home.

Important documents

Keep essential paperwork like IDs, passports, insurance cards, cash, credit cards, and your vehicle registration within easy reach. Place these items in a separate pouch or organizer in your essentials bag.

First aid kit

Accidents and injuries can happen anytime, especially on long drives. A well-stocked first aid kit is a must for your essentials bag. Include bandages, gauze, antiseptic, pain relievers, antihistamines for allergic reactions, stomach aids, and critical over-the-counter or prescription medicines.

Packing an essentials bag for your cross-country move will give you peace of mind that you have everything you need for the journey. Make sure each family member has their own bag in case you get separated. Happy trails and safe travels to your new home!


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Update Important Records before Moving

When moving cross country, one of the most important things you need to do is update all your essential records.

As a single person making this big move, this step is crucial.

Update your address

First, you’ll want to update your address with the post office. Fill out a change of address form to forward your mail to your new place. I suggest updating your address on file with any monthly billing services like utilities, insurance, credit cards, and streaming services. The last thing you want is for an important bill or document to get lost in the move.

Notify friends and family.

Give your close friends and family your new address and contact information. Email or text with your new details, or set up a group chat to spread the news. Even though you’re moving far away, you want to stay connected to your support system.

You should update a few legal items, like your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and voter registration. Check with the DMV in your new state to transfer your license and register your vehicle. You’ll also want to register to vote in your new county to participate in future elections.

Medical records

If you have any ongoing medical care, update your doctors, insurance providers, and pharmacies with your change of address. Request copies of your medical records to bring if you need to find new healthcare providers after your move.

Inform employers

Whether you have a job lined up in your new city or are on the hunt, ensure any current or former employers have your updated contact details. Provide HR with your new address, phone number, and email to ensure no issues with taxes, benefits, or job references.

Updating records and connecting the dots before moving day will make your cross-country move much more smoothly. While it may seem tedious, staying on top of the details means you can focus on the excitement of this new adventure! Take it from me; it’s worth the effort.

Plan Your Route and Stops

When moving cross country, planning your route and stops is vital. As a single person moving, I wanted to make the drive as efficient as possible while giving myself time to rest. Here are some tips for mapping out your journey:

Determine your route

I compared a few different routes on Google Maps to find the fastest one with the least amount of traffic. Since moving in the summer, I avoided significant cities during rush hour. Once I picked my route, I saved it to access it on my phone during the drive.

Schedule overnight stops

Driving for 8-12 hours a day is tiring, so I made sure to schedule stops for the night to rest along the way. I aimed to stop every 5-7 hours of driving time. I booked pet-friendly hotels in advance and made sure they had amenities like gyms, restaurants, and laundry in case I needed them. For families, look for hotels with pools, playgrounds, and complimentary breakfast.

Factor in extra time

No matter how much you plan, there are always unexpected delays when moving cross country. I budgeted an extra 30 minutes of rest or driving time for every 3 hours of travel. This accounted for things like traffic, bathroom breaks, meals, gas fill-ups, or just needing to stretch my legs. For families with kids or pets, add even more buffer time. It’s better to arrive early at your next stop than feel rushed.

Stock your car with essentials.

Having snacks, water, maps, chargers, entertainment, pillows, blankets, a first aid kit, cash, cards, and anything else you might need within easy reach in your car is a must for a long drive. Make frequent stops to walk around, use the restroom, get food, refuel the car, and re-stock supplies. The more comfortable you are, the easier the drive will be.

Planning and preparing for the unexpected will help ensure your cross-country move goes as smoothly as possible. Take your time, be flexible in your schedule, and enjoy the open-road adventure! The destination will be worth it.

Make Arrangements for Your Pets before moving

When moving cross country, your furry family members require just as much planning as the human ones. As a pet owner, making arrangements for your pets is one of the most essential steps in preparing for a big move.

Find Pet-Friendly Housing

The first thing I had to do was find a place to live that allowed pets. Some apartments have size, breed, or number restrictions on dogs and cats. I searched for listings that specified they were “pet-friendly” or “allowed pets.” It may take a bit more hunting, but you’ll find places that welcome your whole family.

Book Veterinarian Appointments

About a month before the move, I scheduled my dog and cat checkups with their vet. I wanted to ensure they were healthy for the drive and get copies of their medical records to give to their new vet. The vet can also provide a health certificate if you’re moving out of state.

Prepare a Pet First Aid Kit

For the long drive, I put together a pet first aid kit with essentials like gauze, bandages, antiseptic, cotton swabs, tweezers, scissors, medication, and the vet’s phone number. You never know if your pet may get carsick or need emergency care on the road.

Pack a Pet Bag

I packed a separate pet bag with food and water bowls, leashes, litter box, litter, toys, bedding, waste bags, and anything else to keep them comfortable in the new place until the movers arrive. Don’t forget to pack a favorite toy or blanket—everyday items will help reduce stress for your pets.

Book Pet Transport

If you’re flying or need help driving, consider pet transport services. They can transport pets in a temperature-controlled vehicle with experienced handlers. Get recommendations from your vet or local shelter and book in advance.

Moving to a new home is challenging enough without worrying about your pets. With some preparation and planning, you can ensure a smooth transition for the furry members of your family. The extra effort will give you peace of mind and help get your pets settled into their new home.

Schedule Utility and Service Changes before moving

Moving to a new place is stressful enough without having to worry about transferring or canceling all your utility services and subscriptions. As the move date approaches, make scheduling these changes a top priority.

Internet and Cable

Call your internet and cable providers to either cancel service at your current address or transfer service to your new home. Ask if they offer any moving specials or bundle deals for new customers that you can take advantage of. Schedule the service installation for the day you move in or shortly after. Living without WiFi for too long isn’t an option these days!


Contact your electric, gas, water, and other utility companies to end or transfer service. Provide them with your new address and the date you need the services switched over or disconnected. Remember things like trash and recycling pickup. The fewer surprises, the better on a moving day.


Go through your monthly subscriptions and memberships to make any needed changes. Streaming services, gym memberships, lawn service, security systems, and more will need to be canceled, put on hold, or updated billing and service address. Make a list of all your subscriptions so you remember everything.


If you’re moving out of state, you’ll need to find new homeowners’ or renter’s insurance and update your auto insurance policy. Shop around at different companies to compare rates and coverage options. Ensure no lapse in coverage between your old and new policies.

Mail Forwarding

File a change of address with the post office to forward your mail from your old address to the new one. This free service will ensure any mail sent to you at the previous address is redirected to your new home. Make sure to also notify anyone who regularly sends you mail, like banks, credit card companies, and friends/family.

Taking the time to handle these service and utility changes may not be the most exciting part of moving to a new place. Still, it will make the overall process so much smoother. One less thing to stress about as you settle into your new home!

Pack Room by Room

Packing up your entire house to move cross-country is no small feat. As a single person getting ready for a big move, I’ve found the most effective approach is to pack room by room.

Start with the rooms you use the least.

I began in the attic, basement, and garage – where I keep things I don’t use often. These areas tend to accumulate clutter and knickknacks over time, so packing them first gave me a sense of accomplishment and made the more daunting rooms feel less overwhelming.

Move on to storage areas and closets.

Next, I tackled the house’s storage closets, cabinets, and drawers. Clearing out and packing these spaces freed up boxes I could use for the bigger rooms. It also forced me to go through and purge unneeded items, which helped minimize what I had to pack and move.

Focus on one room at a time.

Then I focused on one living space at a time – the guest room, office, kitchen, living room, and so on. I found it most efficient to pack everything in a room except what I needed for daily living. Labeling each box by room and contents made it much easier to unpack and organize in my new home.

Remember the little details.

As I packed each room, I cleared out and packed the little nooks and crannies, too – things like medicine cabinets, linen closets, pantries, and junk drawers. Leaving these spaces unpacked until the end could make moving day chaotic, trying to figure out what went where.

Keep essentials handy

I left packing my bedroom, bathroom, and a few kitchen essentials for last. That way, I had everything I needed for daily living ready at hand, even as the rest of the house was packed up in boxes. When moving day arrived, these final rooms were easy to pack up and load and the first to unpack in my new place.

Following these tips for packing room by room made the whole process much more manageable as a single person preparing for a big move. Staying organized and focused, one space at a time, was crucial for controlling stress and ensuring nothing got left behind. The result was a smooth move into my new home, and I am ready to start the next chapter.

FAQs About Moving Cross Country

Moving cross country can be complicated, especially if you do it solo or with a family. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to a new state.

Do I need to hire movers, or can I do it myself?

As a single person, I’ve moved cross country both ways—with movers and by renting a truck and doing it myself. Hiring movers definitely makes the process easier, but it is more expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you can save money by renting a moving truck and packing it yourself. Just ensure you’re prepared for how exhausting it will be to load, drive, and unload everything yourself! Professional movers are probably your best option for families or if you have a lot of heavy furniture.

How do I move my vehicle(s)?

You have a few options for moving vehicles long distances:

  • Drive your vehicle(s) yourself as you move. This only works if you have multiple drivers to share the driving duties.
  • Ship your vehicle(s) using an auto transport company. They will load your vehicle onto a truck and transport it for you. This allows you to fly to your new home instead of driving.
  • Tow your vehicle(s) behind a moving truck. This only works for specific vehicle types and requires an experienced driver.
  • Sell your current vehicle(s) and purchase new ones at your destination. This avoids the hassle of transporting them altogether.

How do I move with pets?

Moving with pets requires extra planning and preparation. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure your pets have ID tags with your current contact information in case they run off during the move.
  • Get your pets microchipped in case their collars fall off.
  • Ask your vet for a copy of your pets’ medical records to provide to your new vet.
  • Make sure your pets’ vaccinations are up to date, especially rabies, before moving to a new state. Requirements vary in different areas.
  • Prepare a pet first aid kit in case of any injuries during travel or in your new home.
  • Bring food, medications, leashes, litter boxes, and other pet supplies with you—don’t pack them in the moving truck!
  • Give your pets time to adjust to the new place. Keep to a routine and be patient as they get familiar with their new surroundings.

Moving to a new place can be stressful for pets, so giving them extra love and attention will help keep them happy and healthy during this transition. With proper planning and precautions, you and your furry family will be settling into your new home in no time!

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And there you have it, my tried-and-true moving checklist to get you from here to there with minimal stress and mess. Following these steps will ensure you’ve covered all your bases before heading to your new sweet home. The key is starting early and tackling things methodically. If you do that, your move will be smooth sailing. Before you know it, you’ll be settled into your new place, surrounded by familiar furnishings and your favorite furry friends. A new adventure awaits on the other side of that moving truck – all you have to do is take that first step. The open road is calling your name! What are you waiting for? Happy moving and happy trails! See you on the other side!

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