How To Pack to Move Across The Country

Packing to Move Across Country

Moving across the country is not something that can be done on a whim. Unless you are an extreme minimalist and only have one suitcase full of belongings, you will most likely have many things to pack and even some things to get rid of.

Packing for such a large move will need to be separated into steps for it to be executed correctly. Starting with downsizing, packing what’s most important, then gathering all the little things to take with you.

Cross country moves can feel extreme and cause anxiety or fear, but this article will help narrow down the move into sections to help it be less scary! Read along with me as I give you tips and pointers on how to move across the country in the easiest way possible!

Step 1: Minimize Your Belongings

Donate Items Before Moving
You’re going to be packing up everything anyway. However, any donations don’t have to be loaded on a truck or unloaded when you arrive.

The first step is to go through each item that you have and decide if they are necessary. It does take a little more time, but decluttering your house before you begin packing will end up saving you time (and effort) once you begin the moving process.

After all, why take the time and energy to pack and move something you don’t even really need?

For example, if you are moving from a cold climate to an extremely warm one, it is unlikely that you will need your winter coat, heavy sweaters, and snow boots.

Examine each item, and make three piles. One pile is for the trash. If the item is too beat up or broken, you can safely throw those items away. If you have many items that must be thrown away, you can rent a dumpster from someone local to your area.

The next pile is stuff that can still be used by someone that may be worth selling. Large items such as furniture or appliances may be listed on websites that assist you with selling items to other consumers. You can sell items on PoshmarkOpens in a new tab., Facebook marketplace, or even CraigslistOpens in a new tab..

The last pile you will create is stuff that you want to donate. These items are gently used and can still be used or worn. Don’t donate broken or unusable items to charity. You can donate items to local shelters, GoodwillOpens in a new tab., or the Salvation Army.

Once you have completed those three piles, the items you have left are the things that you will take along with you on your move across the country.

Step 2: Buy Packing Materials

Now that you have examined everything that you want to take along with you on your next phase in life, you know what and how much you need to pack.

Knowing how much stuff you have to pack and move for your cross country relocation helps you know which type of packing materials you need to buy, and how much of each to get.

At the bare minimum, you will need large wardrobe boxesOpens in a new tab., packing tape, acid-free packing paper, a marker for labeling, and space saver vacuum storage bags. For cross country moves that include furniture, you will need furniture pads, nylon straps, and moving blankets.

Once you have gathered all of your needed packing materials you can move to the next step to begin packing your items!

Step 3: Pack By Room

The easiest way to help you pack your belongings in an organized fashion is to pack by room. This method will help unpacking go quicker and easier once you arrive at your new home.

Pack all kitchen items together, and label the boxes with bold words that remind you that these boxes should be unloaded in the kitchen. Do the same for each bedroom, bathroom, living room, and utility room.

Always remember to keep the labels on your items simple and don’t put specific words that indicate what is in the boxes.

For example, if you are packing your home office and have expensive equipment packed in these boxes, keep the labels vague. Adding words such as computers, printers, or monitors make your boxes more susceptible to being broken into.

Instead, use labels like “work tools” or “fragile” to remind yourself what is in the box without letting others know.

Step 4: Take Extra Care Of Breakables

While packing anything that is easily breakable be sure to pack these items with extra care. Use bubble wrap, protect edges and corners, and add an extra layer of foamOpens in a new tab. or cushioning to keep these items from cracking or shattering.

Take your time while packing. If an item can be broken down into smaller parts, disassemble the item and pack them accordingly. Add extra layers of protection to items that are valuable or important to you.

Items such as dishes, glasses, artwork, framed photos, televisions, and mirrors should always be packed separately from other items. Packing them in their own boxes helps to keep them from colliding with other items that may cause damage to them.

Step 5: Pack Liquids Separately

doTerra Essential Oil Travel Box
I picked up a couple essential oil travel cases a few back and they make transporting bottles 100x easier.

This is a very crucial step for anyone packing items such as essential oils, sprays, or anything liquid. Always pack liquid items separately and securely.

You will want to place these items in plastic bags that have a secure fastening mechanism such as Ziplock bags or waterproof packing bagsOpens in a new tab.. This helps protect other items and boxes just in case one of your liquid items breaks.

Instead of leaking and creating a soggy box, the liquid will spill into the bag and prevent any extra messes or damages.

Step 6: Hire A Moving Company

Once you have everything packed and ready to go, it is time to hire the company that will assist in your move. Hiring a moving company will help you free up your time and reduce the amount of stress that moving can cause.

Call around and get quotes from at least three moving companies, and ask about miscellaneous fees and ask about insurance for your items. You will also want to make sure that they are licensed and insured! Ask for proof of their credentials, a reputable moving company will have no issue showing you their documentation.

Always obtain the driver’s name and phone number before the move. If there is an emergency you need a way to contact the mover and a way for them to contact you.

Step 7: Pack A Suitcase To Keep On You

All of your items will be loaded into a large truck that will be driven by someone else. Because you may be separated from your items, it is very important that you pack a special moving overnight bag that stays with you during the move.

Pack items such as credit cards, cash, passports, licenses, medications, important documents, essential clothing, jewelry, and other necessities that you may need in a hurry.

My Final Word

Moving across the country is already a big decision that can cause many mixed emotions. Simplify the process by taking extra precautions to make sure that your items are packed securely and moved by professionals to your new location. Allow yourself the freedom of mind by knowing you followed all the steps to make the move as easy as you could.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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