How to Pack Your Car for a Cross-Country Move

It’s an understatement to say there are a lot of things to keep track of during a cross-country move. And if you have belongings, kids, fur babies and a vehicle you’ve opted to drive to your new address, there’s a cross-country road trip to think about, too. 

To ensure your long-distance move goes smoothly, it helps to plan what to pack in your car — and know how to make it all fit so you minimize stress, mitigate surprises and make an adventure out of the road ahead.  

The first place to start? With a spare key to avoid lockouts. And that important paperwork and other non-allowable items? Those irreplaceable keepsakes? Keep them with you.  

Pack Layers of Clothing 

It goes without saying, but you need clothes — specifically enough clothes and the right kind of clothing for the conditions you’ll encounter. Depending on where you’re moving, you may encounter a variety of climates — even unpredictable weather. Make sure you pack layers and do include a jacket or coat since you never know what the weather holds at varying elevations or weather patterns that are beyond your control.  

  • Layers of clothing that account for changes in weather and temperature 
  • Loungewear or pajamas 
  • Workwear if required 
  • Extra undergarments and socks 

Don’t Forget the Toiletries 

Comfort, hygiene and self-care are also key when you’re on the road, so these items prove helpful as well: 

  • Light blankets and pillows for napping 
  • Facewash, shampoo, conditioner, soap and styling products 
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash 
  • Lotion 

Remember to Pack Snacks 

Keep grouchy kids and hangry adults at bay by packing portable, healthy snacks. 

A cooler filled with drinks and temperature-sensitive snacks, sandwiches, veggies and fruit 

  • Nuts, dried fruit, crackers 
  • Utensils 
  • Napkins 
  • Single-serve condiments 

Keep Everyone Entertained Throughout the Journey 

Limit the “are we there yet” by bringing enough things to entertain the whole gang for the duration of the drive. 

  • Music 
  • Audio books 
  • Road trip games 
  • Travel-friendly toys 
  • Tablet for streaming shows and movies 
  • Cords for charging your gear 
  • Portable chargers 

Make Sure Your Pets are Comfortable and Cared For 

Traveling with your furry friends? You need to keep them comfortable and safe, too. 

  • Pet carrier(s) that accommodate  
  • Litter box for cats 
  • Leashes and collars/harnesses  
  • Pet identification tags 
  • Up-to-date immunization and ownership records 
  • Pet beds 
  • No-spill food and water dishes 
  • Anti-anxiety medication 
  • Toys 
  • Food and food dishes 
  • Treats 

Prepare for the Unexpected with a First Aid Kit 

Hopefully, you’ll never need to kiss boo-boos and apply band-aids. However, it’s important to be prepared, just in case. Your first aid kit should contain: 

  • Sterile cleaning pads  
  • Antibacterial ointment 
  • Band-aids 
  • Tweezers 
  • A small pair of scissors 
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen  
  • Instant cold or hot compress 
  • Sterile gauze pads 
  • Stretchy bandage wrap  
  • Non-latex gloves 
  • Cloth tape 

Invest in an Emergency Car Care Kit 

No one wants to think about a vehicle breakdown. Still, you should be prepared in the event an issue occurs. 

  • Jumper cables 
  • Tire pressure gauge 
  • Spare tire 
  • Reflective warning triangle and flares 
  • Safety hammer and seatbelt cutters 
  • Tow rope 
  • Hand crank 
  • Safety vest 
  • Folding garden/snow shovel 
  • Blanket 
  • Snow scraper 
  • Anti-slip gloves 
  • PVC tape 
  • Tool kit 

Miscellaneous Things to Bring on a Cross-Country Drive 

There are a number of basic odds and ends that are worth bringing along on your cross-country move. 

  • A roll of paper towels 
  • A jug of water 
  • Garbage bags 
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing spray 
  • Cleaning wipes 
  • Wet wipes 
  • Baby wipes 
  • Kleenex 

How to Pack Your Car for a Cross-Country Move 

If you plan on packing luggage or equipment on the top of your vehicle, make sure that it is securely tied down. It helps to use a specially designed cargo compartments — such as an adjustable, waterproof, soft-sided roof rack — that can be secured to the top of a vehicle. Never pack valuables on the exterior of your car since they could be stolen. 

As for how to keep it all organized, clear plastic bins let you see what’s inside so you don’t have to dig. Soft-sided bins work well for items you’re less likely to need access to. As for heavier items, they should go inside — not on top of — your vehicle. Take care to pack them below lighter items that could get damaged or crushed. 

Looking for more tips on how to streamline and simplify your long-distance move? Visit our blog for expert tips and tricks. 

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