Back in December, Adam, Maeby and I set out on a long trip from New England to the west coast. And we learned some things along the way, so if you’re planning on a long distance move (whether it’s all the way to the opposite coast or halfway across the US), here’s my advice for moving across country.
▷ Pick some cities and attractions that you want to see.
Moving across country isn’t a regular thing. This isn’t something you’re going to get to do everyday, and though you might do it again in a few months or next year, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Once I accepted my job offer, the first thing I did was look at possible routes and cities I wanted to see. This list changed for me from months before, however, because I was traveling in the winter and I had to…
▷ Be aware of the weather!
Since I was driving out in December, I knew going through Chicago (which was someplace I really wanted to go) probably wouldn’t be the best option for me. Instead, I opted for a southern route. At the same time, had I gone in the summer, I would’ve most likely opted for a northern route, and tried to avoid the dry, hot areas of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico (or I would’ve keep the days I spent driving through these states shorter) so my car wouldn’t overheat.
▷ Book your hotels a night or two before.
I’d recommend booking your hotels the night before, especially if you are traveling with a dog or other pet, and definitely if you are going to be driving through some desolate parts of the country (like when we drove through Texas and had no cell service for about 6 hours that day). This not only helped us plan our route well, but it also helped with morale; we knew that everyday we had an end destination and having that helped us get there each night.
With this, I recommend TripAdvisor; we booked all of our hotels through Expedia, which integrates TripAdvisor reviews, and it helped us tremendously.
Bonus tip: Download the Expedia app and your first booking will be $25 off. And if there’s two of you on the road with smart phones, that’s $50 savings.
▷ Ship the big stuff and drive with just your car.
If you’re planning on bringing big stuff with you (which I did), find a reputable moving/shipping company (I highly
), and then drive out in your car. After recently talking to my friend who drove from Boston to San Francisco with a trailer attached to her car and hearing all about how stressful and frustrating that was for her, I definitely suggest driving out in your car (not a moving truck and not in your car with a trailer attached).
▷ Save your receipts.
If you are moving for a job that is more than 50 miles from your previous residence, you are eligible for a tax deduction! Keep all of your receipts for any moving-related expenses, including gas/mileage, hotels, and shipping/moving company charges (including boxes, tape, padlocks, mattress covers, etc). You can read more about this on the IRS website
▷ Make sure clothes and other necessary items are easily accessible.
We left the things we needed in the main part of the car, and the things we might need towards the back of the trunk so we could easily access it. In addition, if you are moving for a job and you’re planning to start your job soon after moving, make sure you have those clothes with you! If your shipped items take a little longer, you don’t want to be without business attire for your first day at your new job!
▷ Buy a car cell phone charger.
This doesn’t need much explanation. The last thing I would’ve wanted was to be stuck in the middle of Texas, with no clear directions of where to go and no way of getting in touch with anyone.
▷ If you’re using a GPS, screenshot your directions!
This is really important, because as I mentioned above, there were some parts of the country we drove through that didn’t have cell service, so a lot of times our GPS failed us. Taking a screenshot of your directions ensures you have them when you need them, and it helps save your battery.
▷ Make plans, but be ready for plans to change.
I really think us having a loosely-planned route with planned overnight stops helped keep us sane, but be ready for plans to change! Our initial route had to be changed when the midwest was hit with a major ice storm; we had to stay an extra night in Tennessee
(and tack on an extra day to our drive) and adjust our route, so we ended up going completely out of the way.
▷ Enjoy the ride!
Plans change, things don’t work out as you might’ve planned, and sometimes being so excited about the end destination takes away from the ride. But really–enjoy it. We made sure to enjoy local cuisine (including barbecue…twice…in Nashville, fried alligator in Louisiana, more barbecue and Whataburger in Texas, and green chiles in New Mexico). I was super frustrated when that ice storm hit but it worked out for the best because I got to see some really beautiful parts of the country that most people never see.
More advice from my move: