Tips for a Cheaper Do-It-Yourself Cross-Country Move

by Tonya Staab

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Duck Brand. All opinions are 100% mine.

So, you’re making a cross-country move with kids and pets! We’ve got tips for doing it cheaper, and with less stress because we’ve already done it.

Last week we made a cross-country move from California to Kentucky. We wanted to do this the most affordable way possible so decided to do all of the packing and moving ourselves. We made this move with a moving truck, two vehicles, two kids, a dog, and a turtle.

a white house with a yellow moving truck

Not only are we making one move, but we are making two moves. We’ve made a temporary move to Mike’s house in Kentucky, which we will be putting on the market shortly. We are in the process of buying a new house to move into, so most of our belongings are now in storage, and then we will finish boxing up all of Mike’s household items once we are ready to make that final move into our new home.

Preparing to move cheaply

Pare down your belongings. There are a lot of personal and sentimental things you will want to take with you and that’s perfectly fine. If you work from home too (like I do) then you may have to move your entire office as well. Weigh up the cost though of renting a bigger truck versus replacing belongings at your destination.

  • Have a yard sale
  • Donate items to a local thrift store
  • If it’s broken, it’s gone! Whether you fill your weekly trash cans with smaller items or arrange for a curbside pick-up of bulky items, offload it.

Cutting moving expenses

We chose to drive a moving truck and do all of the packing ourselves. Stocking up on boxes and packing supplies including packing boxes, EZ Start Packing Tape, and Bubble Wrap was essential to staying organized.

a child and man packing boxes and loading household belongings onto a moving truck
  • Use the Duck Brand Moving Calculator to gauge how many supplies you need for your move based on the rooms you need to move and how much ‘stuff’ you have.
  • Compare the cost of moving trucks. We found it was cheaper to rent a one-way moving truck with a trailer out of state. Even with the cost of gas, it was over half the price to drive 5-hours to pick up a truck and trailer (for one of the vehicles), drive it back to our state, pack it and drop it off in the state of our destination. This also took care of getting Mike’s car to Kentucky. He put his car on the trailer and pulled it behind the moving truck. I drove the other car with the kids and pets.
  • Pack a cooler with food and drinks for the road trip. Roadside stops and drive-thrus can become expensive. Make sandwiches, stock up on bottles of water, and don’t forget the snacks.
  • Put the kids to work. Depending on their age, they can help pack some of their own belongings or non-fragile items for you. They can also carry lighter boxes to the truck. If the kids are too young, have family or friends help, even if it’s to babysit.

Why you should choose Duck Brand products to help you move

We have used Duck Brand products through two moves so far with no breakages – both Jay’s move into an apartment and our cross-country move. We have one more local move in the coming weeks into our new home.

These are the two products we used the most:

  • EZ Start Tape is made with Frustration-Free​ technology so the tape always unrolls smoothly and easily without splitting or tearing, and you never lose the tape end.
  • Bubble Wrap conforms easily around delicate and valuable items during moving, mailing, and storage. Air Lock Technology​®​ nylon barrier seal to hold air longer and protect items better®​.

We also used the Stretch Wrap Film Extensible for keeping cabinet doors and drawers closed, and the Glass Kit for all of our glassware, jars, bottles, and small vases.

packing boxes, duck brand tape and bubble wrap and a moving truck being loaded

When we moved, we knew most of our belongings would be heading into a storage unit while we waited to close on our new home. However, there were items I needed right away that we packed into the truck last so we could offload them quickly. My photography and computer equipment were on the top of that list because I still needed to work during the transition. I was so worried about items like my expensive lightbulbs breaking, but they made it here in one piece thanks to Duck Brand Bubble Wrap. In fact, all of my photography and computer equipment made it here without a scratch.

photography lightbulb wrapped in duck brand bubble wrap for shipping

Everything else you need to know

Weigh your moving truck

Rent the correct sized truck and weigh it. Our house was a 4-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, with two family rooms, a dining room, and an office. We had already moved Jayden (and his belongings) out the week prior to our move, so needed a 22ft truck for everything else.

Weighing your truck is critical. Do an online search of weigh stations close to you before you hit the road. Once on the road and having to stop at weigh stations it is going to be too late to do anything if you are overweight, and you don’t want to deal with those expenses to get another truck to come to you to offload some of your belongings. We weighed ours at 3/4 full and found we were well under the maximum weight on the day of the move.

Truck routes

Safe truck routes for towing may not always be the quickest route, but they are the safest route. Going through narrow winding mountains may not be your best option. There are phone apps available specifically for truck routes that will give you the safest route to travel to your destination.

Diesel stops

If your truck takes diesel (and most larger ones will) make sure that you are stopping at gas stations that are truck-friendly. Not all will have the clearance you need to get to the diesel. A truck route app will help with this, but also checking roadside signs for truck stops/diesel stations is essential while you are on the road.

Book pet-friendly hotels with truck parking

When moving across country, you will need to stay in a hotel. We ended up doing our road trip over 4 days. There are laws through some states as to how fast a truck can go, and how fast a truck towing a trailer can go. Plus, there are weigh stations, bathroom breaks, food stops, and more. You need to take all of that into consideration.

Ask the hotel ahead of time if they are pet-friendly and what the added expense for that is. You also need to ensure they have truck parking. A lot of hotels right off the highways will have truck parking, but not always.

Road trip essentials

  • Pack about a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries for each person into your vehicle. You will need these for hotel stops and for the first few days at your destination while you get settled. The last thing you want to do is have to open the truck if items have shifted to find suitcases each night. We actually packed the vehicle on the trailer with most of our hotel essentials.
  • Don’t forget pet supplies such as a water bowl for your pet, bags for bathroom breaks, food for hotels, and a kennel or pet bed for them. Some roadside stops will not have drinking water available so make sure you have a bottle of water for your pet too.
  • Food. Don’t spend an excessive amount of money on drive-thrus and restaurants on the road. Cut that down to once a day by taking sandwiches, snacks, and drinks in a cooler with you.
  • Keep kids entertained on the road. Download movies to devices for those times that there is no service or you are down to that one religious country station on the radio. You can also play road trip games such as bingo, eye-spy, and punch buggy.

Don’t forget these moving essentials too

  • Check the expiration date on your driver’s license.
  • Make sure your auto insurance and registration are up-to-date
  • Do you have roadside assistance coverage?
  • Ensure you have enough medication for everyone who needs it to get them through at least 2-3 weeks.

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