Moving Across the Country? Here's a Guide For Your Long-Distance Move

by Shelley Frost
illustration of a moving truck driving across a map

You’re moving. Congratulations! If it’s not a short, around-the-corner type of move and you’re heading across state lines, you might be dreading the orchestration of it all. Add pets and kids into the moving mix, and it can become even more complicated.

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This long-distance moving guide can help make it a little easier and provide you with guidance for relocation peace of mind.

What Are the Key Things to Consider While Planning a Long-Distance Move?

Long-distance moving takes more prep work and logistics than a move across town. Consider these long-distance move factors to make things go smoothly.

Moving Timeline

Having a detailed timeline for your long-distance move helps you stay on track and ensures you get everything done. Make a detailed list of all the tasks you need to complete for the move. Set a deadline for each task. Be realistic about the timeline, but make sure you finish things early enough so you're not rushed. 


A detailed budget also helps you keep your move on track. Long-distance moving expenses add up quickly, especially if you hire professional movers. Expenses to add to the budget include:

  • Moving company
  • Packing services
  • Packing materials (if you pack yourself)
  • Moving insurance
  • Shipping costs for items you ship separately
  • Your transportation
  • Vehicle transportation
  • Pet transportation
  • Overnight accommodations before, during and after the move
  • Meals
  • Tips for movers
  • Cleaning fees
  • Deposits for utility setup
  • Storage
  • Childcare
  • Pet care

Leave a little extra in your budget in case you forget something or face unexpected expenses. 

Moving Method

DIY moves take more work on your part, especially for a long-distance move. You're responsible for handling all the work, and you carry the liability for anything that happens. Full-service long-distance moving services make the move less stressful for you, but they're more expensive. Get quotes for both methods and decide how much work you want to put into the move. You'll want to reserve whichever option you choose early to ensure you have the help you need.

Destination Details

Researching your destination helps you coordinate the move well. Know how much space you'll have for a moving truck, when you can get into your new home and any restrictions that could make the move challenging. 

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How Should You Pack for a Long-Distance Move?

Take extra care when packing your belongings to protect them over long distances. Here are some tips to make packing easier:

  • Declutter first. Get rid of items you no longer use or can easily replace when you arrive. This saves space, time and money. 
  • Prioritize your packing. Pack items you won't need before the move first. Hold off on essentials until the end to make life easier pre-move.
  • Gather packing supplies. Having lots of bubble wrap, furniture pads, heavy-duty boxes and other packing supplies on hand makes it easier to prepare your belongings. 
  • Pack for distance. Your belongings will go through a lot more than they would if you moved across town. Use extra padding, smaller boxes and packing dividers for increased protection. 
  • Consider professional packing. Hiring professionals to pack your belongings is faster and less stressful. You can continue using your items until right before the move.

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Are There Specific Logistics or Regulations to Be Aware of When Moving Belongings Across State Lines?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates interstate moves to ensure everything goes smoothly. Most of the regulations are the responsibility of the moving company to handle. They're required to give you specific documents and handle specific liability during the move. 

Your main responsibility in ensuring the move follows these regulations is to choose a reputable interstate moving company. It should have a USDOT number and be registered with the FMCSA to be an interstate mover. Verify that the company you're using has these things.  

What Are Some Other Tips for Planning and Executing a Long-Distance Move?

Consider these final tips for long-distance moving.

  • Start soon. Begin your arrangements, such as booking long-distance moving services, as soon as you know you're moving. This can help to reduce stress.
  • Make arrangements for pets. If you have furry family members, consider boarding them or hiring a pet sitter while you pack and move. You might also choose professional pet transportation services to get your pet to your new home.
  • Keep an essentials bag. Whether you're driving or flying to your new home, you'll need to have the essentials with you. Keep those items in a separate bag so they don't accidentally get packed.

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