By Sam Wasson
Updated Oct 19, 2022
One of the biggest upsides to long-distance and interstate moves is the accompanying road trip. Once all the packing is done and the truck is loaded, the long, scenic journey to your new home is like a welcomed reward. This is a win-win since driving the moving truck instead of using a full-service mover can save massive amounts of money on your final bill. While relaxing and a major money saver, driving a moving truck cross-country isn’t all fun and games. Problems can arise, and you should take precautions to ensure everything goes according to plan. To help your next move go smoothly, we’ve compiled a series of checklists and helpful tips for long-distance moves and road trips.
Long checklists for road trips and interstate moves are tropes for a reason, and it’s because they work. A good checklist will help you remember the essentials and load the cars with everything you’ll need.
Before you lock the doors of your old house for the last time, make sure that you have the following:
If you’re traveling with children or toddlers, here are some extra items you should bring along:
Long-distance moves can be exciting adventures but can quickly become nightmares if something goes awry. What follows are some of the most important tips to consider when planning your next cross-country or interstate moving trip.
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Typically, your standard car insurance will cover you when driving a rental. However, standard insurance will not cover moving trucks. If you want to be fully protected during your move, you will need special coverage for your truck. Some insurance companies offer plans for moving trucks, but most movers select plans directly offered by the moving truck service. You should research the plans offered by your moving company beforehand and pick out the best plan for you.
When moving, using the buddy system is always a good idea. If you are traveling with a single vehicle, and that vehicle happens to break down, you’re suddenly in trouble. If you’re lucky, you’ll have access to a roadside assistance service like AAA to come and give you a hand, but if not, you’ll be walking to the nearest gas station. You can avoid all this with a second vehicle driving alongside you or towing behind your truck.
If you opt to go with a secondary vehicle, make sure it gets a tune-up before hitting the open road. A cross-country trip can take a lot out of a vehicle, and a quick tune-up can catch anything that might go wrong on the road. Be sure to mention that you’re about to go on a trip when speaking to the mechanic. This way, they will check for specific issues prone to coming up during long drives.
There are several reasons to measure your mileage and route when planning a road trip. First, since moving companies charge by the mile for their trucks, it will help you determine your total costs. Second, you will be able to properly plan your hotel stays (see next tip.) Third, it will give you a safer, more well-organized trip.
Programs like Google Maps, or other online road trip planners, offer a host of handy tools for tracking your move, planning the best route, avoiding toll roads, and even finding hotels. Finding the shortest and most efficient route will also save you plenty of cash. Most moving trucks only get between 12-10 miles to the gallon, and with how high gas prices are right now, extra mileage will cost you.
There’s nothing worse than driving into a town, finding a hotel, only to discover that they’re booked, and there are no nearby Airbnbs. Depending on the size of the town you’re in and the availability of hotels, this can quickly become a serious problem. You can avoid these predicaments by calling and booking your rooms beforehand. Be it for a cross-country trip or a weekend getaway, you will always want your hotel rooms booked and secured before you leave.
GPS and navigation programs on our phones are beneficial tools. With Siri in our pockets, it feels like we can never get lost. However, you will frequently pass through areas with zero cell signal when traveling across the country. That’s why it’s always safest to carefully plan your road trip route and pack a couple of maps or cross-country atlases for interstate trips.
Highway laws can vary significantly from state to state. For example, 24 U.S. states, such as New York, completely outlaw holding a phone while driving, even if you’re not talking or reading a text. There’s nothing worse than adding the cost of a ticket to your moving expenses, so it pays off to check some of the significant rules of the road for the states you’re passing through.
Since you’re traveling across the country, there’s no reason not to enjoy some scenic sights while you’re out. Locations like national parks, national monuments, roadside attractions, short hikes, and other fun side treks are great ways to stop and stretch your legs.
Road snacks are a staple of any good road trip. But good road snacks go beyond chips, jerky, and candy. By packing a large amount of healthy, pre-prepped food, you can reduce the cost of meal expenses for your trip. Picnic food usually works best, like sandwiches, potato salad, wraps, fruits, and cut vegetables. But feel free to stock up on junk food since it makes a great snack on the go.
Eight hours or more can feel like a lifetime when driving in a car, especially for the kiddos in the back seat. To help pass the time, pack a good variety of media everyone in the car can enjoy. Audiobooks, podcasts, and some Spotify playlists work great for the driver, but things like handheld game systems, books, iPads, and music (with ear pods) are excellent choices for passengers.
Even with luxury sedans, the confined space of leather seats can get uncomfortable after a while. For long road trips, this is sadly unavoidable. But you can reduce this discomfort by carefully packing your car. Make sure that every seat has plenty of elbow and foot room. Also, limit the containers in the back and front seats to only those that hold items needed for the tip.
Frequent road trippers will tell you it’s easy to drive along for hours without paying attention to the gas meter on a car. Most modern vehicles get over 25 miles to the gallon. However, most moving trucks get less than half of that at 10 miles to the gallon. It can be surprising how quickly one of those massive trucks can run out of gas, leaving you potentially stuck out in the middle of nowhere. When traveling across the country, always keep an eye on your gas meter and never risk a stop by trying to make the next exit before your gas runs out.
You should always plan for gas and rest stops every two hours or so. Frequent stops will help you keep your tank full and give everyone time to stretch and use the restroom. Stretching your legs helps keep everyone comfy for the trip and reduces the risk of blood clots while also providing the opportunity to refill on snacks.
It can be tempting to pull all-nighters and drive through the midnight hours, but no amount of time you might save is worth your safety. Always try to aim for appropriate drive times, around eight hours per day, at reasonable speeds. Most moving trucks and vehicles can clock around 500 miles a day without overexertion. For safe drives during the day, always try to get eight hours of sleep and switch out drivers (if possible) if you feel too tired.
Cross-country drives are one of the most satisfying parts of moving. The ability to see the different parts of the United States and relax after all that packing is always a well-deserved payoff. But, if you don’t adequately prepare, the last leg of your journey to a new home can be fraught with problems. If you follow the handy tips in this guide, you will be able to avoid potential pitfalls and have a safe, relaxing, and fun trip to your new household.
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