Tips for cross-country moving

Hey everyone! Dwane and I are moving to Oregon in just a couple of weeks. Has anyone

a) made a cross country move before?
b) driven across the country?
c) driven across the country with a cat?
If so, do you have any tips? Right now we're taking

Luna on practice runs.

She is an indoor cat and I just got her a collar and a harness, both of which she squirmed out of at first. Also, we are planning on using PODS to move – anyone have any experience with them?
This is my third move in a year and a half and Dwane's third in two and a half years. You'd think we'd be pros at moving by now, but is still is such a drag to pack casino and clean everything!
another thing: anyone want a globe made of interesting stones?

EDIT: Wow, some fantastic advice already. Mike D readers are the best. I thought of a couple more questions:

– Does anyone keep an emergency kit in the car? Besides jumper cables, I mean. If you do, what's in it?
– Packing extreme breakables (we're talking champagne glasses, heirloom pieces, etc etc) – would it be wiser to take them in the car?


15 thoughts on “Tips for cross-country moving

  • 6/26/2008 at 2:24 pm

    Tom and I have driven across the country before. Tons of fun. Just make sure you are in tune with your personal style that will keep you happy for the trip. For us that meant switching drivers every 3-4 hours, regular meals to prevent grumpiness and no more than 12 hours of driving a day.

    We love, love, love the Natl. Parks. You’ll have a great chance to stop at some amazing parks (Yellowstone!)along the way, I would definitely do that.

    Good luck on your move and trip!

  • 6/26/2008 at 2:44 pm

    I moved to Minneapolis and back 2 years ago. Here’s what I did. I made an appointment with someone at the post office and had them calculate just how much time it would take to have packages delivered from Springfield to Minneapolis and the cost. I compared that to PODs and UHauls and all that, and it was a lot cheaper to have stuff shipped in the mail than with the other routes. Then again, i didn’t have a lot of furniture, so your situation might be different. I had my all my stuff shipped with the exception of valuables, necessities, and breakable objects so that at the earliest, they would arrive the day after I got to Minneapolis, and that worked out really well.

    Also a life saver: print out google maps to everything you could possibly need. I printed out directions to target, grocery stores, hardware stores, my new office, a pharmacy, furniture stores, a hospital, etc. That way I wasn’t desperately trying to find someone with good directions to find things I needed before my internet was set up. Also, don’t forget to google a gas station. I nearly ran my tank dry trying to find a gas station one night.

    And one last tip. I drove out about this time of year probably along a similar route that you’ll be taking. Be careful of deer and electrical storms! The storms I hit were the most scary storms I’ve ever seen. Nothing out here compares to those storms. And out there, theres not a lot of fences or barriers or traffic to prevent/scare deer from wandering into the road. I had to dodge deer more than once going both ways.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!

  • 6/26/2008 at 2:50 pm

    That’s an excellent point – Dwane and I will definitely discuss our long distance driving styles!! I hope we can hit a national park – the only problem is the cat and what to do with her if we stop somewhere not very conducive to cats….

  • 6/26/2008 at 2:53 pm

    Wow, great advice!!! I’ll let Dwane know about the post office, though we have lots of furniture so it may not work for us.
    I love the Google Maps idea. Your thoughts about the storm makes me think I should check for each city we plan on stopping in.

  • 6/26/2008 at 3:03 pm

    I read “heirloom” as “helium.”

    very different indeed.

  • 6/26/2008 at 3:04 pm

    I moved my gf (at the time) to San Jose, CA from Worcester, MA and back again.

    It was one of the best experiences I’ve had, though we did not have any animals with us. She had little enough stuff to shove most of it in the car, and mail the remainder. We planned in detail ahead of time and got a cheapo gps (the kind that plugs into your laptop, this was a while ago).

    Our plan did not hold, but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had… driving cross country was a blast! We went out of our way to hit attractions nearly every day, even in the short amount of time we had to do it we still managed to spend a few hours at a given thing each day (to keep you sane).

    If I were doing it again, I’d take more time, see more things, take our time a bit more.

    Tips! Bring a GPS. It’s worth it. Bring food, because there are big stretches of country you can’t get food easily (or won’t want to). Get off the Interstate, preferably often. Local/State Routes are awesome… even though we were going to NorCal, we headed south and took Rte 66 for a long ways. Scenic drives are fun and break up things without impeding you too much (we did the Blue Hills Parkway in TN).

    But don’t try to do too much at once, or else you’ll hate each other by the end. With an animal in the summer, you might think about camping along the way sinec hotels are weird about animals.

  • 6/26/2008 at 3:10 pm

    Hey bdp, I have no idea who you are (do I?), but I like your thoughts. A large amount of food in the car is a necessity for me – I can be so irritable when hungry. I found a great site for pet friendly hotels and we’re staying with a couple friends along the way. I think you’re right – it’s important to do something fun for a few hours each day or we really might drive each other crazy!! I’ve wanted to drive across the country my whole life, so I can’t wait :)

  • 6/26/2008 at 3:10 pm

    Well, we have helium pieces, too. But I was trying to keep it a secret. Thanks a LOT!!!!

  • 6/26/2008 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Alicia, you do… I’m Ben, red hair, friend of Mike’s, live in Cambridge. I won a shirt at Redbones from you :-) I just kept it to my initials so coworkers can’t google for me.

    The biggest thing is take your time, enjoy it. It’s not something that you can do very often so don’t waste it. We took the time to do the touristy things (Mt. Rushmore, the state parks, that sort of thing) and it was very worth it. I went to Mt. Rushmore almost jokingly and I was actually blown away by it.

  • 6/26/2008 at 4:14 pm

    I’d keep breakables with me, but not super high value things… for fear of theft.

    I keep an emergency kit (we did this in the winter, so some may not be applicable) and it includes:

    Oil. Bring oil, check it often.
    Generic First Aid.
    Fix-a-flat-type stuff.
    A seatbelt cutting/window breaking thingy.
    And fuses… we didn’t have these, bad times when one blew.

  • 6/26/2008 at 5:38 pm

    I like that I did this entirely different than Mykal!

    Irregular meals, by myself and more than 12 hours a day.

    The best advice I can give is to allowyourself as much time as possible so you can enjoy some things along the way and don’t have to fly at 80mph the whole time.

    As for trunk essentials, I defer to the cartalk guys.
    Oh, and I think I want a globe!

  • 6/26/2008 at 6:34 pm

    Unless your cat is really crazy, I’ve found that cats actually prefer to be out and about in the car. Even mine calmed down after about 10-20 minutes. They LOVE to sit in your lap while you’re driving so watch out!
    As for the leash, it’s a good plan to get a harness that goes around the front legs and neck. And ALWAYS have it on before stopping anywhere, we had one get out on the side of a highway once and didn’t get her back for 5 or 6 days (continually driving to that spot and calling for her).
    Good luck!

  • 6/27/2008 at 5:42 pm

    My Mom, sister and I drove from massachusetts to florida in between moves with two cats in the car – we kept them in their carriers most of the time, since there’s a good likelihood that your cat will either pee on the seats ,try to bolt through an open window or car door, or crawl underneath the driver’s feet by the gas pedal – we kept harnesses on them all the time, and then attached leashes to let them out on little walks in secluded rest stops. We also had a large flat rubbermaid bin with a snap on lid full of kitty litter which the cats used as a bathroom – indoor cats are sometimes confused that they can go outside, and usually prefer litter. You can find pet friendly hotels through AAA which will allow you to bring your cat to the hotel room.

    We left the cats in the car when we’d make stops with the windows cracked – we didn’t stop all that much though.

    I researched PODs going from massachusetts to portland and I think they start at about $8,000.

  • 6/28/2008 at 10:53 am

    Growing up in the Coast Guard, we made several long haul moves, although we were fortunate enough to have a moving company pack all our stuff for us; we just had to make the drive. I agree with Ben, don’t take valuables in your car, otherwise you won’t be able to comfortably see the sights.

    Driving on the Great Plains is like driving on a treadmill, so make sure you stop and see some interesting stuff. South Dakota has surprisingly a lot to offer — Custer State Park (Buffaloes! Ground Hogs!), The Bad Lands (Bad Bad-Really, Really Bad!!), Wall Drug (Free Ice Water!), The Corn Palace (Tons of Corn!).

    Also, in the Northern Great Plains, especially Canada, the thing to do is to have indoor water parks at the hotel! It’s a lot more fun in the winter when it’s really cold out, and then you hop onto some water slides, but I bet it’ll be nice in the summer too.

  • 6/30/2008 at 8:03 am

    Globe is yours! I can even drop it off to you if you want!

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