Ultimate Guide to a Smooth Solo Cross-Country Move

By guest author, Ryan Cox

So, you're planning on moving cross-country solo. Whether you're waving goodbye to the Midwest to settle in the South or moving from east to west, moving should be an exciting experience! However, many cross-country moves are stressful, especially if you don't have a support system to help with packing, transporting and unpacking.

We're here to help you prepare for moving cross-country alone and give you the peace of mind you deserve to take on the journey by yourself. Here's everything you need to know:

Planning and Preparation

You'll want to start planning your cross-country move at least two to three months in advance. This will give you enough time to budget accordingly, research your new community, and create a timeline for your moving schedule.

During the planning stages, you'll also want to consider hiring professional movers to help you with the job. In many cases, professional movers can help you save time and money in the long run. Consider comparing quotes between two to three moving companies to see what aligns with your budget.

Consider The Time of the Year

Before you hit the road, you'll want to consider the time of the year. You may run into extreme weather conditions during the hot summer months or cold winters. You'll also need to factor in traffic, road conditions and holidays. Typically, autumn is seen as the best time of the year to move. The weather is mild, and the cost is less expensive if you hire movers.

Read Online Forums, Reviews and Testimonials

If you decide to hire professional movers, take some time to read online reviews and testimonials. This will help you find affordable and reputable movers in your area.

Use Online Resources to Stay Organized

There are online moving resources and apps to help you stay organized, budget accordingly and track your everyday to-dos. These tools will help you stay on task and ensure everything is taken care of before moving day.

Decluttering and Downsizing

Always declutter and downsize before you move, not when you get there. If you have fewer items to move, it will make your move easier. If you decide to hire professional movers, it will also help you save on the overall cost of your move since most movers charge by the pound.

To get started, do an inventory assessment. Create a running list of the items you are relocating to reference during the move. From here, here's how to efficiently downsize when moving cross-country alone:

  • Declutter: While packing, create three piles for items you want to keep, donate and sell. This will simplify the packing process and keep you organized. 
  • Organizing and Packing: Once you're ready to start packing, start small and go room by room. Always pack similar items in the same boxes and put the heaviest items on the bottom. 
  • Use Labels and Color-Coding: This will streamline unpacking and keep everything organized during transit. 
  • Prioritize Essential Items: All important documents, paperwork and family heirlooms should be in one box. This box should stay in your possession and not be put in a moving truck. 

Administrative Tasks

Two to three weeks before you're moving cross-country alone, there are a few administrative tasks you'll need to take care of. You'll want to change your address and set up mail forwarding with USPS. This will ensure all of your mail is forwarded to your new address.

Next, transfer your utilities and services to your new address. You'll also want to cancel gym memberships and change your address for subscriptions. If you have kids, remember to get their transcripts transferred to their new school district and look for a new primary physician.

Packing Strategies

When moving cross-country alone, packing can seem like a daunting task. Here are some tips to ensure you stay organized throughout the self-packing experience: 

Utilizing Vacuum-Sealed Bags

Vacuum-sealed bags can help you save space and minimize the number of moving boxes you need. Consider using these bags for clothes, towels, sheets and bedspreads.

Filling Empty Spaces

Consider using dish rags, towels and blankets to fill empty spaces in boxes. These belongings are great eco-friendly alternatives to packing paper and will minimize the number of moving boxes you need for your belongings. 

Create an Essential Items Bag

If you plan a road trip to your new destination, you'll want to have an essential item bag in your car. This bag will contain toiletries, clothes and important documents you can easily grab without digging through moving boxes.

Shipping Belongings

Once your bags are packed and you're ready to begin the journey, it's time to consider how you want to ship your belongings. If you're moving cross-country alone, options include:


Self-moving is the most time-consuming approach. It can also be costly, especially if you plan to rent a moving truck and pay for gas, hotels, and everyday essentials along the way.

Professional Moving

Leaning on the help of professional moving services can provide peace of mind and is a great cross-country moving option to consider. If you have a tight budget, consider enlisting the help of reputable movers to only relocate heavy or valuable items. Moving companies are required by law to provide basic liability, so you can rest assured knowing your items are protected in transit.

Ask For Help From Friends or Family

Never be afraid to ask for help! If you have friends or family members willing to help you do the drive, it could help you save time in the long run. However, the cost will be similar to the self-move, and there's no telling what their schedule looks like.

Final Advice for Calm and Confident Moving

Implementing proper planning, smart packing strategies, and assessing your shipping options can turn a solo cross-country move into a hassle-free experience. With careful planning and these pro tips in mind, you're well-equipped to embark on your journey with confidence and ease.

With over 15 years in the moving and relocation industry, Ryan Cox is a seasoned expert at North American Van Lines. His background in operational management and marketing uniquely positions him to excel in this field. Specializing in move planning and relocation, Ryan is committed to guiding and protecting customers through every step of their journey, whether it's local, interstate, or international.


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