I have moved across the country a few too many times for my taste. I’m no expert, but here are the four most important lessons I’ve learned from moving residences. When the soon to be “ex” told me we were moving, I didn’t even know where to start. I asked my parents, who had done it a couple of times. Back in their day, moving companies were called. Those fine people came to your house, packed all of your belongings in sturdy boxes, loaded those sturdy boxes onto trucks, and transported your belongings to their new home. Once there, those same fine people unloaded your sturdy boxes and placed them in rooms which you designated. Oh, you can still do it that way, but it will cost you more than you can afford. These days, a little imagination is required.
Tip #1 Time to downsize.
If you’ve been avoiding getting the clutter out of your life, now is the time. For me, that involved a party. Parties are a lot more fun and “rob me blind” parties are a lot less work. Here’s how to do it. Lay in supplies. Yes, you will spend a little money on beer and pizza, but it’s a lot less than you would spend moving a bunch of crap you don’t want or need. Next, invite your friends and acquaintances. You don’t have to like them, you’re trying to get them to take some unwanted stuff off your hands. Fortunately, I liked all of my party guests. Next, stash everything you want to keep. I designated a couple of rooms and stashed everything I wanted to take with me and locked them. My friends brought their pickups and large vehicles and throughout the day simply took everything they wanted. After the party was over, my house was cleaned out fairly well. I donated everything they didn’t take to charities, libraries, etc. Oh sure, there was a bit of clean up but there always is.
Tip #2 Get cheap.
After doing a bit of online research, I discovered a few options when it came to moving. The service I chose was a u-pack moving service. Most of these companies will give you a quote online. This is how it works. They deliver an empty trailer to your house. You have three days or so to load your stuff. After your time is up, they pick up the trailer and deliver it to your destination. Because I downsized so much, I only needed about a 6×6 space and paid $600. I had to wait a few days at my destination for it to be delivered and then had another three days to unpack it. Compare that price with full service movers and you’ve got a deal. Now, this was years ago and prices may have gone up some. I recommend going online and getting some quotes.
Tip #3 Keep the pets happy.
I have always had pets. Moving them across the country can be traumatic. The pets don’t like it much either. I tried both ways: with medication and without (for the pets). Next time I will use some very mild tranquilizers for the animals. I wouldn’t go so far as to knock them out, but just enough to make them mellow. You will definitely have to consult your vet on type of medication and amounts for your pet. I did have one cat who enjoyed riding in the car and she needed no medication. I found that if you set up hiding places in your car in advance, they won’t try hiding under the gas pedal or on your lap. That can be very distracting while highway driving in an ice storm. I would also recommend being extremely careful when getting in and out of a car with pets in them. I had to chase down a kitten on a Kansas highway at night. I can’t describe that kind of horror.
Tip #4 Timing is everything.
The ex decided that January and February are great times for cross country travel. They are not. Icy winter driving is exhausting and dangerous when you have to get from one end of town to another for work. Magnify that by an infinite amount and the adrenalin alone will kill you. Summertime moves are no fun either if you’re dealing with pets. You simply cannot leave them in hot cars. Even mild weather can make for some hot cars if they are in there for more than a minute or too. Try sitting in your car with the windows up and a mildly warm day. You’ll see. It’s not a bad idea to plan your route with the weather in mind. We took a more southerly route across the country since we were traveling in the winter. That didn’t keep us out of the freak ice storm, but sh*t happens.
Bonus tip #5 Arrange stops.
Don’t think you can make it for more than a twelve hour trip without stopping. You think you can do it, but you can’t. Nothing feels worse than trying to drive and sleep at the same time. We won’t even mention the horrible fate that awaits you if you try. You might look at inexpensive hotels along the way (and if they accept your pets). I admit to sneaking a herd of cats into one hotel. I had no choice. Regardless of how long your trip is, stop often. Get coffee and food in you as often as possible. Try not to travel alone. Even a soon to be “ex” will help you stay awake and engaged while traveling.
I hope these tips will keep you safe and happy in your travels. I plan to never, ever, do it again.