Turn Your Cross-Country Move From Scary to Enjoyable

How to reduce stress from a life-altering experience

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How to get all your stuff to the other side

Moving out of a modestly-sized one-bedroom apartment and only owning one vehicle, we were unsure of the best way to transport our belongings. We decided we would fill our car with as many necessities as possible, but needed another way to move furniture, larger items and everything else. We first discussed renting a truck or hiring a moving service, but decided against it as driving a large truck ourselves seemed daunting and moving companies were prohibitively expensive.

Keeping your vehicle healthy

We knew that it was a must to get a checkup for our car before we left, even though we barely had 10,000 miles on it. Everything checked out fine and the only issue we experienced along the way was a minor tire air pressure issue in New Mexico that was resolved quickly.

How to move the fur babies

Perhaps the most stressful decision that we made was how to move our younger energetic dog and older routine-driven cat. Every conceivable idea was considered, from having family/friends drive or fly them out; us flying them out; hiring a pet relocation service. Not only were such ideas looking to be very expensive, but also had very negative aspects. Larger animals such as our dog would have to travel in the cargo area. Not only was that something we did not want to subject her to, being in the dead of winter meant that it might not even be allowable in certain areas because of a temperature threshold that must be met for animals to take to the air in cargo. Air travel and pet relocation services also very likely meant sedating the pets (and probably us as well to ease our fears) to get them through the stress as best as possible.

Think about where you’re spending the night

Unless you are staying with friends and family along the way, deciding where you will be spending each night is a must. Airbnb is always an option, but that must be booked in advance and obviously you have to do set driving goals each day — no more and no less in order to meet your reservations.

You don’t need to be a road warrior

Our cross-country trip-experienced friends often spoke about doing long days, sometimes exceeding 12 hours of driving. That sounded excessive to us, but we figured if they could do it, surely we could as well.

Book the entertainment in advance

An important element of a long driving trip is entertainment. There is always the radio, but why not spice things up a bit with some variety? My fiancé was in charge of setting up our travel entertainment and predictably did a stellar job. She created several playlists on Spotify and identified a couple of audiobooks and podcasts. In particular, the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard Podcast is perfect for long drives. It touches on topics of humanity and life experience, with thought-provoking interviews and banter.

Take advantage of the trip to get some culture

Even if you are taking your time, you don’t want to drag out something as arduous as going cross-country for too long. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it and see some things along the way. After all, traversing the country is an infrequent experience and will often take you places you have never been and may never go again.

We made it!

Our trip was a big success. We made it to our new home by the time we wanted and had everything intact, including our belongings and our sanity. The animals seemed no worse for the wear and realized that while tiring, the trip was enjoyable. Thinking about and planning to travel cross-country by car can be stressful. However, appropriate planning and knowing what to look for can make for a fun experience. The next time — or the first time — you have to make such a trip, keep this in mind and know that it can be more fun than scary.

Written by

Dabbler in history & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about diversity, culture, sports and education.

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