Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making a cross country move

Since this is something that's been in the forefront of everything I do lately, I figured I'd give some insight into making a cross country move.  This will be our second time driving for a week to get to our new house, and it can definitely be a stressful time.  No matter how much you like each other, a week in a car in the middle of nowhere can bring out the worst in people.  Luckily, arriving at your destination can usually erase all of that tension and replace it with pure excitement!  Here's a list of the top 10 things we've learned, and will definitely be keeping in mind, when planning a cross country move.

1.  Even though you may think you need every little thing, having space in the car is more important.
When we traveled from Corvallis, OR to Charleston, SC we packed the car to the brim (we drive a tiny little Nissan Versa hatchback).  The worst part was that we mostly took with us things we didn't really need.  It was so bad that not only did the cats suffer from lack of room, but the floor space below the passenger seat was so cramped that you couldn't straighten out your legs without putting them on the dashboard.  Not only is this dangerous, but right around day 4 you'll really be kicking yourself that you're so cramped up and sore.  I'm pretty sure this is the number one thing Colin remembers about our first big move.

2.  Your stuff is going to get there well after you do, not matter what they tell you.
We've never had a move where our stuff was available before we were ready to receive it.  Usually, it actually gets there at least a week later.  This means you're pretty much camping out, or staying at a hotel until it arrives.  The best advice I can give you is to make peace with this, and just relinquish control (something that's tough for me, too).  There is nothing you can do to make it go faster, so prepare for it ahead of time, and try to make it a fun experience!

3. Only pack what you need in the car.
One thing we definitely learned the hard way was what is worth taking.  The first time we moved we took all of this entertainment (ds, books, magazines, games, computers, movies, etc.), when we should have taken things with more practical uses.  Here's a quick list of what we will never move without (provided you choose to stay in an empty house, and not at a hotel):
  • Towels - This sounds silly, but trust me.
  • Toilet paper - This sounds even sillier, but once you get to the new house and realize you don't have any, it wont seem so silly anymore.
  • Shower curtain - Also super important.
  • Folding chairs - The worst thing about being in an empty house, is not having anywhere to sit.
  • Air mattress, pillows, and sleeping bags - These are usually easily packed and take up hardly any space.  Your backs will thank you.
  • Reusable dishes and silverware - A much more green friendly alternative to buying paper everything.  It also helps keep the eating out to a minimum.  We have a great set of picnic ware for four people that we bring with us that we received as a wedding gift (Thanks Megan!).
  • Garbage bags - There are so many uses for garbage bags, and chances are you'll find many of them before your stuff arrives.
  • Multipurpose cleaning products - If you're anything like me, even if your new home was cleaned before you get there, you'll probably still want to do some disinfecting.  I usually bring disinfectant wipes, a handheld vacuum, and maybe something like Pine Sol.
4. Use the time without your stuff to explore your new town!
Since there's no real reason to be stuck at home, go out and explore!  Find the grocery and some fun restaurants!  Time your drive to your new job.  Meet your new neighbors.  All these things will keep you plenty busy, and the days will just fly by until your household goods shipment gets there.  Not to mention this time off is something that should be treasured.  In the navy, Colin gets 10 days free leave to move, so treat it like a vacation!

5.  If you're traveling with pets, find hotels that don't mind your little critters.
Colin's number one complaint about moving is sneaking the cats into sub par hotel rooms.  Taking each one by one with a blanket over the carrier, just crossing your fingers that no one meows (and lets face it, at least one always does), is stressful to say the least.  A lot of hotels charge ridiculous amounts for pets, so it's worth it to hunt for the ones that don't.  As of this year, La Quinta is a 100% pet friendly hotel chain with no additional charges.  In addition to this, they are also updating all of their hotels.  We're staying at a few during this move, so I'll let you know how it goes.  Other hotel chains we've tried are Sandman Inn and Suites (definitely recommended) and Roadway Inn (Not recommended).  Chains we haven't tried are Red Roof Inn, Best Western, and Motel 6.  As always, check with individual hotels before you make your reservation just to be sure.

6.  Keep your days to a minimum of 4 hours per driver.
Sometimes it can't be helped if you're set on a destination, but for safety, and enjoyability, it's important to keep the hours down.  Especially if you're traveling for multiple days.  Colin and I like to keep it to 8 hours and have a great system - he wakes me up and rolls me out of bed around 6, drives the first four hours, and then by the time lunch rolls around and I'm awake it's time for my turn!

7.  Pick destinations that interest you, or where you have family to visit.
Not only is this a great way to catch up with spread out family members, but it's also a great way to explore our wonderful country!  Not to mention, if you have something to look forward too, then the days will go by much quicker than if you're just trying to make it to a sleazy hotel in Kansas City (trust me).

8.  Find some books on tape or something fun to listen to, for when you exhaust your ipod in the middle if Montana or can't stand to hear one more of your spouses renditions of Rent.
I say this with caution, because it's actually really tough for me to drive and listen to a book on tape.  To say that I'm easily distracted is an understatement, and the voices most book on tape readers use are dangerously soothing.  However, I do like listening while Colin drives, and since he loves to listen and drive it works out great.  Instead of putting him to sleep the way it does me, it actually helps him stay awake.

9.  Think of some fun car games to play when the freeways get long and never ending.
I know this sounds sort of silly, but trust me it's worth it.  And I'm not talking about for the kids.  America is great, but there are definitely boring stretches of highway out there.  The one we loved to play as we drove across country was the licence plate game.  We even played it over walkie talkies on our way to New York.  If you're unfamiliar, here are the rules:  Keep your eyes open for license plates that differ from the state that you're in.  Once you find one, write it down!  The goal is to get all 50 before reaching your destination.  We've played this game on both of our big moves, and haven't gotten them all yet!  It's surprisingly fun, and you can up the ante by keeping track of who finds the most. 

10.  Remember, this isn't forever.
This is definitely the most important thing I can say.  When the drive seems never ending, when you can't imagine eating out one more night, and when it feels like your stuff must have gotten lost in the middle of nowhere, remember that things will return to normal.  Two to three weeks is nothing in the big scheme of things, so stick it out and try and make the best of this turbulent time!

Do you have any moving tips to share?  Something you wished you would have known before a big trip? Put it in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment