No matter the reason for moving, when you relocate across the country, you’ll find limitations at every turn. This is especially true if you plan on using your car as your moving vessel. However, there are some great life hacks that will make your move less stressful. It doesn’t matter if your moving for college, career or just a change of pace and scenery, here are some tips for tackling this life change.

The Plan

A big part of the plan is, well, planning. Feeling overwhelmed? Start by making a list of what you’ll need in your new location, what you already have and what you’ll buy once you arrive at your new home. Then map out the route you’ll take by creating a trip on Google Maps. By having the driving directions on your phone, you’ll be able to easily follow the audio prompts as they guide your navigation. Furthermore, you can pinpoint hotel options while on the road and the number of miles you’ll put behind you each day. The last part of planning is determining where you’ll live once you arrive in the new city. It’s best to have an apartment or other accommodations lined up to avoid any additional — and unnecessary — stressful situations.

moving cross country by car

How You Pack

When you have a huge rental truck for the move it’s easy to pack your stuff in boxes for convenience. However, when you pack a car, you should avoid boxes whenever possible. This may seem counterintuitive, but boxes don’t play well with others — they don’t bend or fit in small spaces, they don’t slim down much when pushed on and they create hard edges that can’t be worked around.

Instead, use large plastic garbage bags for clothes. When folded efficiently, your clothes will take up minimal space in your car, and the plastic bags will keep them relatively safe while tucked under your seat or at the bottom of the pile, especially from any spilled coffee or snacks while on the road.

The Hours and Miles

You may have everything sorted, but before you load your car with all that loose stuff, make sure you get a tune up. Long drives are hard on your car, and if components are worn or near the end of their lives, you run the risk of dealing with them while on the road. Have a mechanic give your car a once over; check oil, spark plugs, rotate your tires and check your alignment. Even with an OK from your mechanic, a roadside assistance membership will give you peace of mind. An automotive services membership, like AAA, gives you three uncharged calls per year, whether you need help with a flat tire, need a tow truck or locked your keys in your car. AAA provides tows up to 100 miles before you’re charged a dime. Of course, there is a annual membership fee, but when you’re faced with miles and hours in the car, it’s worth every penny.