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Embarking on a cross-country journey is no small feat, and we, as seasoned movers, understand the importance of meticulous planning to sidestep any hiccups along the way. Having witnessed countless long-distance moves, we're here to impart our firsthand wisdom.

If you're gearing up for your most significant relocation yet, it's crucial to acknowledge the distinctions between local and long-distance moves as you gear up for this adventure. Whether you're a first-timer or a moving veteran, our tried-and-true tips are at your disposal: 


1. Insure your belongings properly

A lot can happen to your stuff over thousands of miles in the back of a truck when it’s being loaded and unloaded by a number of crews.

Moving is a high-risk industry; according to statistics from the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA), “More than 80% of all moves have no claim filed”- in other words, up to 20% do. Be ready for something to go wrong, and get the proper coverage.

Under Federal law, basic moving valuation limits a mover’s liability to only $.60 per pound. Determine well before your move if you want to purchase full-value coverage or stick to basic coverage. Take note of the deductibles and the amount of coverage you’re getting. If you’re unsure which is better for you, your moving company will explain the differences between the coverages, and you can make a more informed decision that will help you prevent your expensive long-distance move from becoming a financial disaster.

2. Inspect Outdoor Furniture

You will need to inspect your outdoor furniture, or any other suspect items, for signs of insect or larvae infestation.

Certain moving regulations exist on furniture in order to prevent transporting contaminants across state lines. Government pamphlets are available to provide more information on these regulations and how you can rid your furniture of larvae, moths, or other pests.

3. Create an Inventory List

The cross-country moving companies handling your long-distance move will want to know how much stuff you have. The only way to truly know how much stuff you have is to make a list of all of it. An inventory list won’t just be helpful for getting accurate price estimates from movers; it will help you stay organized while packing for your move, and allow you to keep track of your items along their long-distance journey.

If you check something off at the origin and destination, you won’t be worried about whether or not it safely made the trip. For more on preparing your inventory list, check out our moving checklist.

4. Save Money by Purging Unnecessary Items

Decluttering and downsizing can be a huge relief before a big move and help you reduce your moving expenses. The less stuff you pack with you across the country, the less it will cost you. The three best ways to get rid of items are donating, selling, and tossing.

Recently, we assisted a client with their cross-country move and they shared how decluttering had a significant impact. By donating winter clothing, they not only made their move smoother but also contributed to charities in cold-weather cities. Their success story reinforced the value of decluttering as a way to ease the moving process and even give back to the community.

Also, consider having a garage sale before moving cross-country to lighten your load. Media items like CDs, DVDs, video games, and books are easy to sell or donate since they’re mass-produced and one size fits all. 

Cheap, bulky furniture items often aren’t worth the work it takes to move them, and these can often be donated as well. If you have old items that need to be cleaned out and disposed of, consider hiring a junk removal service.

Packing Tips

5. Pack your belongings for a long haul

During a long-distance or cross-country move, items will be handled by multiple teams of workers and riding in a truck across a large stretch of miles and a long period of time. Make sure that everything you pack is well-cushioned inside the box.

Some moving hacks include using bubble wrap (or old bedsheets/curtains/towels) to protect fragile items. Try to ensure that each box is packed to the top and that nothing is loose. Containers inside boxes should be well sealed, taking into account that your boxes may be turned on their side or even upside down at some point. This also means you’ll need to buy high-quality moving boxes instead of used gas station boxes or other low-grade alternatives.

If you wouldn’t pack a certain way for long-term storage, don’t pack that way for a long-distance move. If you’d like some professional help, inquire about packing and unpacking services with full-service movers or cross-country movers in your area.  

 Oz Moving worker Moving Boxes

6. Organize your belongings when you pack

This is a great time-saver; when moving across the country, we especially recommend organizing at least one box of "Day One Items" that you will want to begin using immediately once they arrive at your home. This could include basic pots/pans, plates, everyday clothes, or other belongings; it’s up to your discretion.

It’s also important to label boxes that contain fragile belongings: we recommend grouping them together in “specialty boxes” which should be marked to indicate the care that is required when moving those items.

You can organize the rest of your boxes by the rooms their contents belong in, or however else you think will speed up your move. Just make sure that you mark the boxes accordingly.  

7. Pack your mattress in a box

Otherwise, it can be bent out of shape, damaged, or otherwise tarnished/dirtied. Leaving your mattress outside of a box creates risk, especially when it’s being handled by a few different moving crews.

Taking the time to pack items like mattresses carefully can prevent unnecessary damage and hassle during a cross-country move. Professional movers can help you get the mattress to fit into the box, in case you have any trouble.  

8. Don’t pack essential items you’ll need upon arrival

Keep personal documents such as your driver’s license, social security card, passport and birth certificate with you. If you will need documents such as recent bank statements, tax returns and/or pay stubs before your shipment moves across the country arrives, do not pack them in your boxes.

Basically, don’t pack anything you’ll need once you get to your new home before your shipment arrives; you’ll probably need these personal documents when you’re looking for or starting a job, and you’ll obviously need some clothes, sleeping materials, hygiene products, and a few other things to keep yourself sane while you wait for the moving truck to arrive. 

9. Don’t pack food or liquids

Even non-perishable food runs the risk of getting crushed, or otherwise tarnished or ruined, or worse: attracting vermin. Food will attract unwanted stowaways (the furry and creepy crawly kind) to your shipment. Don’t pack any food (or anything perishable). Likewise, even well-sealed containers of liquid might get jarred open, resulting in an unwanted seepage on all of your belongings.

With long-distance moves you not only run the risk of getting your own stuff all wet; other people’s belongings are on the same truck as yours, and your liquids could get onto their belongings too. We’ve seen this happen before with cans of paint and bottles of oil that weren’t properly sealed. In some cases, packing liquids with long-distance movers isn’t super problematic, but it’s not worth the risk almost all the time. 

10. Mark each of your boxes with your name

Moving trucks that service long-distance moves have a variety of different peoples’ belongings on the truck. In order to keep your stuff from getting lost, make sure to mark all of your boxes with your name or some other unique identifier. In the event one of your boxes is mixed in with another shipment, the movers and other clients will notice immediately. 

During the Move

11. Keep Away the Kids & Pets

On the moving day, the situation inside your home can get highly hectic. This can cause kids and pets to lose their minds a little bit, and subsequently might cause them to interfere with the ongoing efforts to move in or out as quickly as possible.

A sitter can help watch your little ones, human or not, on the big day to make sure they stay calm and the job gets done. 

12. Be aware of the “delivery window”

The complicated nature of cross-country moving and the numerous logistics involved can make it difficult for moving companies to pinpoint a precise delivery date. For instance, a move from New York to Los Angeles may take up to two weeks, but you may only be provided with a vague delivery date.

Most companies usually do not (because they simply cannot) tell their customers well in advance when their moving truck is going to arrive at the new location. Generally, the company will provide a “delivery window.” Pay close attention to your contract; some companies have a delivery window that can in some cases be in excess of 20 business days (excluding weekends and holidays).

Take along adequate shoes and clothing to keep yourself sane until the end of the delivery window, and consider what you might need for the few days afterwards in the event the truck encounters an unexpected problem. (Oz Moving can provide a guaranteed delivery date as an added convenience for a fee).

13. Determine your move-in situation

You’ll need to determine a few different things for the day your belongings will be taken off the truck into your new home.

For long-distance moves, the items will likely be transported in a large tractor-trailer. If the roads leading to your new home are not accessible via tractor-trailer, you may incur a shuttle service fee. A shuttle is a smaller truck (similar to what your property was picked up with), and the mover will load your property onto the smaller truck for final delivery. Additional fees apply for shuttle service, including the shuttle truck rental and labor required to load it. If your tractor-trailer runs into unexpected access issues, this may delay your delivery as well.

Be aware of parking availability near your new home (and how likely a moving vehicle would be facing a ticket if they parked there), whether the mover will need a parking permit in your city, and when your street is typically busy (to avoid getting stuck in the middle of a jam).

14. Figure out your building’s move-in stipulations

If you are renting or are in an apartment or condo, your building may have certain requirements movers need to meet.

Oftentimes you will need to reserve the elevators of a building before moving yourself in. Other times, building managers will not allow movers into the building at certain times and on certain days. You don’t want to have your movers stuck in the truck waiting for clearance to move in.

Clear your move-in with your building manager beforehand to ensure everything goes smoothly; he might even have a few tricks to moving into that building to tell you. 

It might also be useful to see our guide on tipping movers (how much and when to tip).


There are so many liabilities when it comes to moving, especially if you are striving for a more cost-effective move.

The cheapest way to move may end up being the most expensive if you don’t read all the fine print. The cost of moving can vary depending on how organized you are; be sure to inquire with many moving companies/ truck rentals for free quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal. Be sure to book flights to your new city in advance, as flight prices go up the closer you get to moving day. 

If you are going the DIY route, learn about late fees with pick up and drop off of a moving truck rental. In the same vein, when hiring professional moving services, don’t wait until the last minute to learn about their insurance policies. Be aware of any additional fees that can arise during the move due to traffic, detours and parking tickets. Be prepared and good luck!


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