Moving Across The Country: Tips To Prepare

Nebraska to Virginia. Virginia to Florida. Florida to California. California to North Carolina (yikes). That’s a total of over 7,000 miles.

That’s all the states we’ve moved to. And, somehow, we have kept most of our sanity. Definitely a few bumps and rocks on the way (literally, now I have two long cracks in my windshield from it). Its a stressful adventure but we do it each time with all the emotions under our belt and grit to do it again.

With that being said, I have a few tips to *maybe* help you through a move across the country, or even to a new neighborhood. Thankfully, this last time the physical part was easy as we prepared everything ahead of time, its the emotional and mental side that takes a toll. The “emotional” side of things will be written next week.

So, if you’re about to do a military move (PCS) or just moving for a job or new transition, hopefully some of these tips help!

Our first move from Nebraska to Virginia. We were babies!!

So you’re about to move to a new state? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s just say I have some experience under my belt 🙂

*We mostly do PCS moves where we choose the military to move us, but many of these tips will help non-military folks to have a less stressful moving process too!

Through out all four of our moves I have definitely learned some tricks along the way. Hopefully they will help you too! Next week I will post another blog on more getting ready for moving mentally.

Here we go!

  1. Cancel All Utilities
    • Get a list together of each of the utilities you are currently paying for. Look up who you need to contact, email, or call, the date and make sure to give them a forwarding address.
    • I also kept a log of what dates I called, what phone numbers, times, and what specifics I was told in there were any confusions on the back end.
  2. Take all wall hangings down
    • Movers can’t take down wall hangings or art. If they damage walls then they are liable for those damages. So, take down the wall art and decor and set them aside and group them together.
  3. Schedule professional cleaners
    • If you are renting, read your lease for proper instructions on moving out. We had to hire professional cleaners and carpet steam cleaners.
    • Make sure to schedule them for AFTER your belongings are out of the house.
  4. Set up movers
    • When your packing and moving date is set up with the moving company, make sure that is the LAST thing to schedule.
    • After this day is over, I promise it gets a lot easier.
  5. Plan a fun road trip for the actual driving part of your move!
    • Guys, this is where it gets fun! You can plan where you stay, fun activities to do, or maybe parks to go see.
    • We have been to different pars of TX, camped at the Grand Canyon, been to the beach, camped in gorgeous national parks in Arizona, gone hiking, visited friends, tried new restaurants, and basically driven across over half of the country.
  6. Make a list of what to take in the car
    • I was a PRO this time around for things to put in the car.
    • I made a list of snacks, food, things for the cooler, what to have on hand in the front seat, phone chargers, hand sanitizer, and more.
    • if you are traveling with kids or a dog (I had the pup in my car) have things set aside for them. We made sure our dogs food was ready in bags that way when we stopped to feed him we just poured out one bag.
    • Fill all the water bottles! I kept containers and water bottles on hand and refilled them when we could. That way we don’t have to buy water and waste more plastic.
    • Download podcasts, music, and books for the drive. I listened to a criminal investigation podcast and it made the hours FLY by (all 43 of them).
  7. Make a list of what to have on hand at new place of living
    • Make a separate list of what to have when you initially move in.
    • Towels, toiletries, toilet paper, wipes
    • One or two pots and pans, kitchen utensils, bowls
    • Plastic silverware and paper plates, and cups (this came in handy as we had to wait 3 WEEKS for our things to come in)
    • Fold up chairs, blankets, movies, small things for entertainment.
    • Blow up beds, sleeping bags, sheets, chargers
    • PILLOWS. I forgot the last two times we moved and I was SO MAD at myself this last time because I was determined not to forget and of course…. I forgot!
    • Daily life necessities!
  8. Don’t worry about bringing pots and pans.
    • Okay, I know I said bring one or two pots and pans, but don’t bring too many things. When you move in you will be unpacking, or in a hotel, or looking for a house. All out cooking will probably be the last thing on your mind.
  9. Bring a small amount of cleaning supplies
    • In case there are accidents in the car or messes in hotel rooms or at new houses, it’ll be good to have some wipes and a bottle of cleaner on hand.
  10. Pack up all your liquids as moving companies will not take them
    • This rule frustrates me some. When you are looking through all of your liquid bottles, you have SO MANY. Most of the time I end up throwing whatever it is away so we don’t have to hassle it.
    • But sometimes, like this last move for us, the movers packed up our cleaning products and cooking oils (which is a big no-no). Either way, be ready to have extra room to take liquids with you.
  11. Baggy up small items that could get lost with movers
    • This will SAVE YOU on the back end. It saves time for the movers and for you on the unpacking side of things. And its much more like for small items NOT to get lost.
  12. Separate everything that you will take with you BEFORE the movers get there
    • Keep items that you are taking with you SEPARATE in a room or closet and put a “DO NOT PACK” sign on the door. That way the movers don’t have to ask you multiple times what to pack. I printed out a bunch of signs and placed them even just on items around the house.
  13. Save the vacuum cleaner for last
    • Save the broom, swiffer, or vacuum cleaner for last in case you need to clean up anything immediately.
  14. Have a list of specific places you are staying at
    • I LOVED planning all of our stays out. I made a sheet of what dates we were leaving, the destination, how many hours in the car, stops, the address, reservation sheets printed out, check out details, everything. Made it much easier to get to our end destination!
  15. Get a paper map.
    • Just in case the GPS on your phone or specific GPS system stops, get a paper map! Remember when that’s all people had to get around?!
  16. Bring all car chargers
    • I said this earlier but it is super important to have the phone charging.
  17. Moving Day
    • If you have kids or dogs, schedule them to have play dates with friends or family so the day is *hopefully* a little less stressful
  18. Have water for the movers in case they need it
  19. Order lunch for the movers (this is an unwritten rule) and have it delivered
  20. Don’t be afraid to say something to the movers if something isn’t being done right. It is your stuff!
  21. Give yourself some sort of activity to do while they are packing
    • Write, journal, read a book, call some friends or family, look at houses in the new town, new restaurants, etc,.
  22. Keep a binder and name it your “Moving binder”
    • Store all of the important papers, items, dates, reservations, and lists in there so it’s easier to handle the entire process.
  23. BREATHE!

Okay and bonus tip. Moving with your spouse can reveal unprecedented challenges. Remember you are BOTH STRESSED. Realize that there will be some arguments, words said wrong, feelings hurt, and possibly some big fights. It is best to remember to treat and TALK to them how you would want to be during this stressful time. Give each other grace at the end of the day and let the little things go.

At the end of the day, it will all get done. No matter how many stressful moments there are, panic attacks, melt downs, broken things, sleepless nights, it will soon be over with.

So, give yourself some grace during this time and look at it as an opportunity to GAIN new things instead of losing things.

If I can do this four times across the country SO CAN YOU!


If you’re moving soon or know someone who is moving soon, send this their way! That way you can feel less stressed and more prepared for the change coming your way.

Let me know what tips helped you get through your moves!

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not discouraged.”

Thanks for reading,

~Erin, The Short Wife

3 thoughts on “Moving Across The Country: Tips To Prepare

  1. Now, think about a move that you pack it all, drive the moving truck without air conditioning on some of the hottest days of the summer – with a 2 year old in toe. One of the adults has a dry socket from an extracted wisdom tooth. It was hotter with the truck windows down than rolled up. We arrived at the Dallas metroplex at rush hour. We towed our car. We’d been advised to disengage the transmission while traveling, which we had professionally done. After arriving the transmission failed. The home we’d rented was filled with cockroaches, discovered after arriving. What was the lesson learned? In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. This move was prayer answered! Pleasure was not part of the answer. And God is good, all the time!

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