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8 Tips for Moving Across Country in a Car


So, you’re moving across country and agree that doing it in your car is the best option. There’s no doubt it is a possibility and one that may save money and plenty of hassle.

Using your car as a moving truck will do away with the need to hire a moving company or rent a large moving truck. However, there’s no way it’s going to be a viable option if you don’t plan. 

The following tips for moving across the country in a car will be useful. If you get to the end and decide that moving with your car is too much trouble, we’ll finish up by giving you another option. 

Is moving with your car the best option?

Moving with your car is a good way to move house, but certain situations are more suitable than others. Let’s give you some examples:

  • You’re moving across town: If you’ve found a new home and it’s in the same town or city, you’ll be able to do multiple trips using your car without any problems.  
  • Your move is a local one: If your new home is in another town or city in the same state, it should still be possible to do several relocation trips with your car. 
  • You don’t have to move any furniture: Most household furniture is too large and heavy to transport in a car, even if you can disassemble it. If you’re going to leave your furniture behind, donate it to charity, give it away, or sell it at a moving sale, you may be able to move house using your car. 
  • Your household is small: If your household is a small one, your car could be ideal for the job.

If you need some help keeping organized, take advantage of technology. There are moving apps you can use for creating an inventory, organizing your move, and calculating your moving costs. Moveadviser is one example. 

You should also be looking at whether moving with your car is the best option in terms of finances. Ideally, you want to be saving money, but you’ll need to do the math to confirm this. 

If the journey is going to be a long one, there are fuel costs to consider, accommodation along the way, meals, drinks, and toll fees. You should also budget for breakdowns and accidents and take into account the wear and tear of your car as well.  

Make sure your car is in top condition

If you want to be sure of no unpleasant surprises while on the road, make sure your car is in top technical condition. 

If you know of an existing problem or you want to be sure things will be smooth from start to finish, get your car checked by a professional car mechanic.

Once you’re certain your vehicle is up to the task, take some time to do some basic checks of your own before you head out on the highway. Check the following:

  • The tires have enough tread and are correctly inflated and don’t forget about the spare one
  • Top off all car fluids
  • Check the battery
  • Check the interior and exterior lights
  • Check the brakes

Equally as important is to double-check your car insurance and registration. Are they valid and present? 

Think twice before you load your car with furniture

Using your car to move to your new home is only a good idea if you’re not taking any furniture with you. Generally, items of furniture are bulky and heavy and you’ll struggle to fit them in your car. 

However, if you own a van or pickup truck, you might be able to load a few favorite furniture items

If you own a station wagon or sedan, it’ll be virtually impossible to haul any furniture items together with the rest of your belongings. 

Be smart about what you can fit in your car. If you insist on taking your furniture with you, consider hiring a moving truck. Alternatively, a moving company will get the job done properly. 

Sort out your belongings before loading them in the car

Once you’ve decided on moving with your car you must sort out your belongings. Only take with you the things you need. 

This step is one of the most important when it comes to moving cross country in a car. The fewer items you’ve got to load in your car the better. 

A good place to start is by creating a detailed inventory of your entire home. 

Prepare the interior of your car

Step number five is to inspect the interior of your vehicle and remove any items that don’t need to be there. This is particularly relevant for the trunk of your car. You’re likely going to pack most of your stuff in there. 

Standard car equipment such as the car emergency kit must stay in your car, but surplus items need to be gone.

Once you’ve made room for your household items, vacuum the seats and spaces between them. If no one is going to sit in the rear seats, lower them if possible to create more packing space. 

Consider purchasing an overhead carrier

Most likely, your car won’t be able to fit as many things as you want. There might even be a need for multiple car trips, which will add to the overall cost and inconvenience. 

However, what if there was a way to increase packing space? 

You could purchase an overhead carrier, although a good-quality one will be expensive. Think of the additional expenses as a long-term investment. You’ll be able to use the carrier time and again long after your house move is over. 

Another option is to invest in a trailer. Again, this will be an expensive item, but it will repay your investment time and time again. 

Maximize the internal packing space

Maximizing the packing space inside your vehicle is one of the best tips in this list. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is possible. 

Here are some tips on optimizing the space in your vehicle without compromising safety during your house move.

  • Reduce the number of items to a bare minimum.
  • Avoid moving furniture if possible.
  • For fragile and easily breakable items, use an overhead car carrier.
  • For soft and non-breakable items use plastic bags rather than cardboard boxes. They are more flexible and you can fit them almost anywhere inside your car.
  • The smaller the cardboard boxes the better. Copy paper boxes work very well.
  • Make use of the space around the spare tire in the trunk.
  • Make use of storage spaces under the front seats.
  • Use the space in the passenger's footwell.
  • Never place any items in the foot well of the driver’s seat. 

8. Essential items to pack in your car for a cross country move

If you’re wondering how to pack your car for moving across country, here is a list of the essential items you shouldn’t forget.

  • A spare key for your car: Accidents can happen. It’s important to have a spare key on your person just in case you lose your car key in the gas station parking lot or lock it in the ignition. Keep the spare key in your wallet, purse, or another bag you’ve always got with you. 
  • Extra clothes: If you get your travel outfit dirty it’ll be good to have extra clothes on hand. 
  • Pillows and blankets for napping: If you’re traveling with kids, you need to make sure they’re comfortable. Driving cross-country takes a long time and your passengers might want to take a nap. 
  • Bathroom bag or pack: Pack a small bag of bathroom essentials. You might want to include:
    • Body wash
    • Face wash
    • Toothpaste and a toothbrush
    • Mouthwash
    • Lotion 
  • Road trip snacks and drinks: No road trip will be complete without some quality snacks. However, finding the perfect balance between healthy and delicious can be tricky. Pack some treats, but also try to keep your sodium and junk food intake to a minimum. Also remember to bring along plenty to drink, preferably water. 
  • Cleaning supply kit: Messes can happen even when you try hard to avoid them. Combat any spills with a cleaning supply kit. 
  • Music and audiobooks: You can keep yourself and your passengers entertained with music and audiobooks. Before you move, create a playlist and download your favorite tunes, podcasts, and stories. 
  • First aid kit: Along with the traditional first aid kit supplies, make sure to include:
    • Tweezers
    • A small pair of scissors
    • Extra bandages
    • Alcohol pads
  • Car emergency kit: Roadside emergencies can catch you unawares. Be prepared by packing the following items:
    • Gloves
    • Flashlight
    • Spare tire and lift kit
    • Folding shovel
    • Roadside flares
  • Trash bags: You’re going to be creating some trash along the way. Bring a couple of trash bags with you for those food wrappers, paper towels, and other garbage.  

Is driving your car the only option for moving across the country?

Now’s the time to let you know that driving your car is not the only option when you’re moving across country. 

Why not take advantage of SGT Auto Transport’s car shipping services? We provide a safe, secure, flexible, and convenient alternative to driving your car cross country. Let us take care of the logistics of moving your car while you relax and fly to your new home.

If you’ve got belongings you want to take with you, it is possible to pack up to 100 pounds of personal items in the trunk of your car. 

You can find out the cost of our auto transport services by using our instant quote calculator. Alternatively, speak with our shipping advisors on (864) 546-5038 or use our Live Chat option.   


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Can I move with just my car?

Yes, it is possible to move with just your car, but you will be limited in what you can take. Driving long distances can also be expensive, dangerous, and take a long time. 

How do you move across the country with a car?

If you want to move across the country with a car you need to do some careful planning. Reduce the number of belongings you want to take and prepare yourself for the journey as it could take several days. 

What is the easiest way to move across country?

One of the easiest ways to move across country is with the help of a full-service moving company. You can also get your car moved across country with the help of an auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport. 

Is it worth it to drive a car across country?

Driving your car across country is an inconvenient option because you’ll be spending several days driving. If you want to save money, driving your car is likely going to be cheaper than shipping your car. 

Can my car handle a cross country trip?

If you can rely on your vehicle daily without issues and you perform regular routine maintenance, your car will likely be able to handle a cross country trip.

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