6 Packing Tips for Moving Cross Country

Take a quick breath before you start randomly tossing your belongings in boxes. Here are six tips on how to pack for a cross country move.
Written by Jason Unrau
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Make sure you're packing efficiently and keeping your items safe when packing for a cross country move.
You’re in for a long haul. Picking up and moving to a new home across the country is no small feat, and it’s bound to be an exhausting process with plenty of ups and downs.
Moving starts well before the truck pulls out of your driveway, and one of the most arduous and stressful steps is packing for the move, especially if you're
moving out of state
and across the country.
Take a quick breath before you start randomly tossing your belongings into boxes. Here are six useful tips on how to pack to move across the country.
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1. Decide what to pack when moving cross country

Whether you’ve lived in your current home for six months or 16 years, you’ve built up some clutter. The average person has around 300,000 items in their home, and there’s really no need for it all.
Clothes that don’t fit anymore, furniture you plan on replacing anyway, the broken lawnmower you moved with you last time: It’s time to get rid of it. You’ll start your new home with a clean slate and best of all, you won’t have to pack and move the excess.
Pack the things you need to bring with you to your new home. This includes the clothes you use, your useful furniture, electronics, things of sentimental value, and other household items. Everything else can be sold online, locally, or donated.

2. Compress soft items with vacuum storage bags

Comforters, jackets, t-shirts, stuffies, and towels take up a lot of space. You might need a few to wrap your heirloom coffee table, but most of it will just get packed away. You can make better use of the space those soft items take up by sucking out all the air.
By using vacuum storage bags, you can reduce soft, fluffy items to around one-third of their normal volume. You’d be surprised how much extra room you’ll have in the moving truck.

3. Buy same-sized boxes for your cross country move

Tempted to dumpster-dive for boxes at your local Walmart or Sam’s Club? It can save you a handful of cash to reuse boxes, no doubt. But trying to stack a bunch of irregular-sized boxes in the moving truck just isn’t an efficient use of space. Even if you’re a Jenga or Tetris master, you'll still have trouble
packing the truck efficiently
Invest in two or three sizes of moving boxes from somewhere like
. They’re designed to be sturdy, spacious, and fit together perfectly like straight-sided puzzle pieces. And if you want, you can use them for storage in your new home or hold onto them for the future.

4. Be generous when wrapping fragile items

When you’re moving, there’s nothing worse than broken items when you’re unpacking in your new home. It always ends up being an emotional time, and you don’t want to deal with Gramma’s vase getting smashed by accident.
Don’t skimp on wrapping fragile things up before stashing them in a box for their trip. Newspaper works well, as do towels and shirts. Rolls of bubble wrap are cheap and offer the best protection.
MORE: How to settle into a new house

5. Label everything by room

In your rush to return the moving van by the deadline, you’ll be unloading boxes in a hurry. It will save you tons of time emptying the truck and unpacking boxes if you know which room they belong in.
Using a sharpie marker, write the room that each box belongs in while you’re packing up. A good rule of thumb is to write it on a top flap and one side, then pack boxes into the truck with the labeled side facing out.

6. Keep essentials accessible

A cross-country move has plenty of opportunity for accidental detours and unscheduled stops. The flexibility to do so lies in how well you’ve packed up. Aside from the overnight bag you’ve packed, keep your essential items close at hand at the back of the moving truck.
Forget to take a jacket? Is your toothpaste empty? Does the hotel have a pool and your swimsuit is packed away? If you have your essentials packed at the back and accessible, your drive across America will be that much smoother.
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