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. 

Real Movers Versus Fake Movers: How to Spot the Difference

Fly-by-night operations and tricky bait and switch tactics scam consumers out of thousands of dollars every day and are an unfortunate part of the moving industry. So how do you know your moving company is the real deal? Being a well-informed, educated consumer is key, so it’s important to do some detective work before you commit. 

Watch Out for These Common Moving Scams 

Hidden Moving Fees 

Rogue movers are notorious for tacking on unplanned and/or undisclosed fees for packing, climbing stairs, heavy moving, or additional weight at the last minute. You should insist on signing a completed moving contract before you let movers take possession of your belongings.  

Deposits for Moving Services 

A reputable moving company will never ask for a deposit to hold your move date. Generally, a credit card is requested closer to your load date. At Mayflower, we don’t require an upfront down payment or deposit to book a move. 

Suspicious Moving Quotes 

The Low-Ball Bid. A suspiciously low bid is likely missing some crucial details – and unexpected costs start adding up once the company has your belongings. Be sure to go over the full scope of your final costs before choosing a low-cost moving agreement. 

The One-Price-Fits-All Bid. Offering one price for every move is a huge red flag! A reputable mover will calculate your estimate not only by ZIP Code and number of rooms, but also weight of goods and the amount of space required on a truck to move your things.  

The In-and-Out Bid. This type of bid does not gather enough information to accurately cost-out a long-distance move. Rogue movers will try and hurry the conversation past pricing and neglect to discuss the complete terms of service until your entire household is packed onto their truck. Reputable estimators will inspect every room in your home (including closets) and ask important questions about your moving plans. 

The Volume-Based Bid. Be cautious of movers who quote your long-distance move by cubic footage of truck space. Interstate moves based on volume are illegal without a weight conversion factor and should be reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) . 

Protect Yourself from Moving Scams

With a little due diligence, you can avoid moving scams and stop fake movers in their tracks. 

Ask Friends and Family. They can recommend a moving company they have recently used and provide you with reviews based on their real-life experiences. 

Check with ATA. The American Trucking Associations Moving and Storage Conference keep an up-to-date list of Pro-Mover certified local and long-distance movers on file. Check with them to find a moving service or to screen a company you’ve already contacted. 

Research Companies Thoroughly. Check online for reviews with the BBB and Google to be sure that they have a history of customer service success.  

Document Everything. After delivery, you have nine months to report any problems to the moving company and file a written claim for loss or damage to your belongings. Note any problems on the mover’s copy of the inventory before signing it. Your mover has 30 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim. Within 120 days of receiving it, they must make an offer to pay or deny your claim. It’s a lot easier for them to deny it if you don’t have before-and-after proof or if they don’t see the damage before leaving your home. 

Know Your Moving Rights and ResponsibilitiesFederal law requires that every licensed mover provide consumers with an informational packet titled, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” during the planning stage of your move. Most legitimate moving companies will direct you online to their website to access this information or possibly provide you with a 25-page booklet on fair practices, industry regulations and consumer rights. 

With nearly 100 years as a trusted moving company, coupled with modern technology designed to deliver you a smooth, worry-free experience, you can count on Mayflower. Start a free online moving quote today.