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Moving Series Part 3: Cross-Country Moving Tips

Moving Series Part 3: Cross-Country Moving Tips

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As much as driving 1400+ miles wasnโ€™t my idea of a super fun time, it was definitely an experience and pretty much makes me feel invincible when faced with any other road trip. This past weekend, we drove to Carmel. Without traffic it is right under 5 1/2 hours. With LA traffic and stopping for food and gas, it was more like a 7-8 hour drive and it didnโ€™t even phase us! We have a trip to Paso Robles next month and that drive is going to be a piece of cake! If you want to see part 1 of the series, click here for how we drove from Dallas to Los Angeles. Part 2 was moving / long road trips with pets. Today Iโ€™m going to talk about basic moving tips. Some will be applicable to everyone and some will only apply to long distance moves. Either way, I hope they help and prevent headaches!!

Picking up our Truck and Trailer from Home Depot! We had to first get the truck and load it, then come back to get the trailer put on. They arenโ€™t allowed to do it for you, but can walk you through the process.

Our night in Palm Springs



  • Movers. GET THEM. But be ready and be careful. This was our first time getting some and we will never go back. Definitely get insurance with them if their service doesnโ€™t already come with it though. We thought we were at a good place for them to come, but they worked faster than we could get extra stuff packed, so we for sure missed out on some packing from them. Our initial movers were great. The movers who unpacked our stuff in LA were not so great. They were really slow and damaged several things of ours, including a priceless custom painting that we still have yet to get payment for.

  • Boxes. Definitely see if friends or family have boxes you can have. You can also check Craigโ€™s List for free boxes too. We were lucky enough to get boxes from a friend, but still spent about $150 on boxes and moving supplies. We would highly recommend U-haul boxes, because they have a 100% buy back guarantee, as long as the boxes arenโ€™t built out. They have amazing boxes made specifically for transporting dishes and such. We didnโ€™t have any breakage, except a couple wine glasses that I dropped while unloading. Something we never had enough of was tape! We also really liked their wardrobe boxes. They were great for suits and special occasion items we didnโ€™t want wrinkled or crushed during the move. They also made putting our closet together super easy. I have done the garbage bag method, in addition to the sheet method, but this was so much easier to transport and doesnโ€™t cause wrinkles!

  • Moving Trucks. We used Penske and they were awesome. We picked them specifically because they have a good history of helping their renters on the road. We actually got a flat tire on the drive and they had us back on the road in a little less than an hour, which was amazing!! I know it can be different, depending on how close to a town you are and how bad the issue is, but wow. We are customers for life! We also considered PODS and were actually going to use them until the last minute. We just werenโ€™t sure if we could, due to our street size. We actually saw someone last week using one, but oh well. If thereโ€™s not a designated area like a parking lot or spot, you have to sign a form saying that if it gets towed or damaged, you have to pay for damages, etc. We didnโ€™t want to sign over liability if there was an issue, BUT if you have an easy spot for them to put it, they are a great option. On this same point, get all the insurance on the moving vehicle!! You never know what might happen and it is better safe than sorry. Also GET LOCKS. Youโ€™ll need a lock for the door of the moving truck and a lock for the trailer if you are towing your car.

  • Overnight. If you are spending the night somewhere before you get to your new home, have an overnight bag and all of your essentials in ONE place. Sounds like normal behavior, but we had to have stuff in 3 separate places, just because of how it worked out. My car had all 3 pets and our wine collection, so not much room there. We put some stuff in Nickโ€™s car on the trailer, and then he had minimal amounts in the truck with him. We each had a small carry-on roller bag and a backpack of sorts that we brought in with us each night at the hotel.

  • Snacks. I probably packed a little too much, but wanted to make sure we had enough. We each had a cooler with water bottles, Topo Chico. Gatorade, and kombucha. I also made boiled eggs that we could have as an on-the-go, easy breakfast! We also each had a bag of chips popcorn, and so on, which we traded off every now and then, so we could have different flavors.

  • Walkie Talkies. Someone suggested these, but we didnโ€™t get them. We actually remembered them the night before and tried to grab some at Home Depot, but the cheapest we could find were $80. We probably could have found some cheaper on Amazon! These werenโ€™t necessary, but would have been nice when we didnโ€™t have cell service, which happened more often than not, especially when we were driving in the mountains.

  • Music. So, I originally thought Iโ€™d listen to books all the way to California, but it actually made me sleepy! I donโ€™t know if it was just that book or what, but podcasts werenโ€™t much better. My best option for when I got tired was to play Disney Pandora or something peppy and fun I could sing along. We also created a Google Doc where friends and family could call us and keep us company on the drive!

  • Pets. Click here for my tips on moving with pets. I wrote a whole blog post on it!

Our first meal as California residents!

After the movers unloaded all of our stuff!


  • Donโ€™t get sidetracked. We bought a bunch of boxes the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. That next day we realized they had given us the wrong insert for a couple boxes. It was too late to go get more because they closed early on Sunday and were closed Memorial Day Monday. I think we would have been in better shape with the movers day of, if we had the correct boxes. We traveled a lot over the next couple of weeks, so we werenโ€™t able to commit as much time to the moving process as we should have. We got tired and side tracked!

  • Know how much you have. Like I said above, we were originally going to do PODS. We had the 7 footer (smallest), then last minute changed it to the 16 footer. That same day, we cancelled PODS because we didnโ€™t want to take the risk, and instead rented the 16 foot Penske truck. Our movers were already booked, so they were PODS certified (you pack the container differently than a truck) and they us our stuff would have NEVER fit in a 7 foot PODS, and maybe would have fit in the 16 foot PODS. A 16 foot PODS is smaller than a 16 foot moving truck, just for the record. Anyway, Iโ€™m super glad we went with the truck, because we would have been up a creek if our stuff wouldnโ€™t have fit, a day before we were supposed to start driving! We very much underestimated how much we had, even though we sold/got rid of over half of everything, so maybe try to over estimate what you have by a little?

  • Labeling system. When we started out, we were numbering boxes by room. We stopped doing this though because we ran out of time. In theory it was a good idea, but hard to implement for sure. Be sure to at least write legibly and if the boxes are re-used, make sure to cross out old information so it doesnโ€™t get confusing. We didnโ€™t all the way and it slightly confused the people who moved us into our LA apartment.

  • Know where things are. At the end of packing, it is super tempting just to shove things places to get it over with, but try not to do this if you can. Itโ€™s the items I did this with that I still have no idea where they are. I thought it wouldnโ€™t be a big deal, buuuut is is kind of annoying. I just found my Roomba today, so at least I have that now!

  • Toilet Paper / Paper Towels. Our management company was kind enough to have toilet paper out, but a lot of places donโ€™t do that. We had rolls of paper towels in our cars during the move, so we could use them on Dino and other things, so we had those handy too. I would have at least 1 of each ready to go and easily accessible, so you arenโ€™t scrambling!

  • Caravan. Again, sounds normal, but do it! I drove behind Nick the entire time - the only exception would be when some cars get in-between us. This is how I was able to spot the flat tire and catch it before it blew!

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Also, what is it with movers and their windows of time?! I guess they base it on how many jobs they have that day, but wow. Our first guys said theyโ€™d get there between 8 and 10, but arrived around 9:45. They were finished around 11:45. The guys in LA said theyโ€™d arrive between 10 and 12 and arrived around 12:30 and werenโ€™t done until like 4:30!! We had to book it to get the truck back in time to save money on days rented.

As far as unpacking goes, we are stilling working on that. Iโ€™m trying to get things up and out of the way before going back and getting it organized like I want. We are having the most trouble with decorating. We canโ€™t figure out what dining room table we want and need to make some other purchases like lamps and side tables. Wish us luck!

What are your moving tips? Would love to be able to share them with others!!

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