Moving is never easy, whether you are relocating across town or across the country. However, the logistics of long distance moves, where packing up usually means moving everything at once in a single trip, present a special set of challenges.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Current Population Survey (CPS), long distance moves of more than 500 miles were the second most popular moves between 2015 and 2016, second only to short moves of less than 50 miles. In fact, more than 2.8 million Americans moved more than 500 miles during that time and another 1.6 million moved between 200-499 miles.
If you fall into the long distance group, the sheer distance between homes means hours — possibly even days — on the road and a true sense of finality when the truck finally pulls away. Aside from the emotional impact of this type of move, figuring out how to safely and effectively transport an entire household over hundreds of miles involves careful preparation and execution. From how you pack boxes to the way you arrange and drive a moving truck, your chance of success increases greatly when you plan ahead.
It’s Never Too Early to Start
Careful advance planning is the number one way to impact your moving success. Ron Sokota, a veteran sales executive who has moved long distances over half a dozen times, notes that you should always expect the unexpected. “I’ve done long distance moves right — and I’ve really screwed them up,” he says. To him, the most valuable part of “packing” comes in the form of knowledge, so start developing a plan the minute you know you’re going to move.
Sokota also advocates using professional moving services as much as possible, including those designed to help DIY movers. For example, even in the age of digital-everything, he believes utilizing paid services, such as AAA, is worth the investment. “AAA doesn’t only offer what — in my experience and opinion — is the best roadside service in the industry,” he says, “they offer a planning service that will map out your driving route using several paths, marking important information such as where to stop and where there is construction.”
Another important aspect is planning for circumstances on the other end of your move. Where you will live matters because it impacts what — and how — you pack. Temporary housing situations, for example, may necessitate storing your belongings for a time. In this case, leaving large items behind is often preferable and something Sokota highly recommends. “Honestly, if it’s not a family heirloom or a really expensive piece, it’s far simpler and more cost-effective to leave your furniture and start fresh in your new city,” he explains.
Box Packing Tips
When it comes to smaller items, it’s important to note that long distance moves wreak havoc on boxes, according to Sperry Hutchinson, a U-Haul spokesman and product expert. It’s also likely several people will handle each package, and the twists and turns of the road will jostle the items. He offers some important notes for getting your long distance bags (and boxes) packed:
- Make sure all the items packed inside your boxes are cushioned with foam, crumpled paper, or blankets/towels.
- Pack every box to the top to avoid movement of loose items.
- Containers inside boxes should be properly sealed.
- Keep each box’s weight to 30lbs or less for the benefit of the boxes and your back.
- Buy high-quality, durable moving boxes rather than using cheap or reused boxes that may tear in transport. In fact, packing for a long distance move is like packing for long-term storage, which requires sturdy boxes.
Loading and Driving the Truck
Finally, if you plan to drive your own moving truck, it’s important to think about preserving your belongings and staying safe on the road. Hutchinson emphasizes that the truck or trailer should be loaded using the 60/40 rule, meaning 60 percent of the weight goes in the front of the trailer and 40 percent in the back. This weight distribution helps reduce sway and make recovery far more manageable.
Taking your time on the road is equally critical. Remember what you are transporting, warns Hutchinson — your valuable possessions. Also, note that driving a large truck means compensating for time and space when you accelerate, brake, stop, and turn. Veteran mover Sokota also emphasizes this point, noting that it’s important to practice driving the truck in a familiar area before you leave.
Making a Long Distance Move Easier
From mobile storage pods and professional packers to big trucks, there are several ways to get your belongings from point A to point B. Services such as CORT Furniture Rental are also available to help by quickly and easily providing you with furniture in your new city if you decide to skip transporting large, bulky items. CORT offers a variety of residential packages to furnish everything from a single room to a whole house.