Cut Stress Using Our Moving Preparation Tips

Want to ensure a stress-free moving day? Because moving matters, it’s time to get organized! Use National Van Lines’ moving matters tips for maximizing your move. This 50-item preparation checklist for moving cross country goes a long way to helping you realize an enjoyable long-distance moving experience.


  • Hold a garage sale before you start packing. Remember, you can hire movers or do it yourself when it comes to the packing portion of your cross-country moving project.
  • Have one common place to keep your lists of “things to do”—a spiral notebook works well. Keep it in an easy-to-access spot so all family members use the same book. It will remind everyone of things they might not have thought about, and even can create a little competition to get things done and marked off the moving checklist quicker.
  • Have any of your belongings been stored outside your home? Did the neighbor borrow your ladder? Are your children’s school lockers really empty? Do you have dry cleaning to pick up?


  • Professionally clean rugs and draperies. Keep them in protective wrapping before moving across country. Many cleaners provide drapery-removal service plus pickup and delivery.
  • Give yourself a break during your relocation preparation. Consider hiring a service to perform the final cleaning at the old home.
  • Hire a college student to help clean the garage or basement.


  • Always mark cartons on the side—not the top. Remember: Boxes will be stacked. Top-located labels prevent you from seeing the contents list or intended room location once you complete your long-distance move.
  • Use colored file-folder labels or stickers to quickly separate items to be shipped from those being placed in storage or not being transported. Clearly mark cartons.
  • “Seam seal” boxes by running a packing-tape strip along each of the side seams on box tops and bottoms, as well as in the center of the flaps. This strengthens the carton to withstand the rigors of long-distance moving.


  • Organizing and packing takes time. Plan ahead. Try to do a little preparation each day. Perform one hard task daily.
  • The heavier the item, the smaller the box.
  • Always bend at the knees when moving boxes or furniture. Never lift with your back. Hiring a full-service moving company means you don’t need to haul your own stuff. Not only will National Van Lines agents move furniture across country, they’ll do your packing for you if you prefer.
  • Doing your own packing? Consider creatively using linens as packing material. Use dishcloths and towels instead of paper. Socks also make great wrapping material—especially for knick-knacks.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Start early by packing seasonal and seldom-used items. Packing early reduces moving stress, eliminates clutter and even helps sell your home.
  • Take advantage of spare suitcases. Pack them with soft goods, but remember to label them as you would a carton.


  • Whenever possible, pack electronics in original cartons using formed Styrofoam. This preparation step is especially helpful when you want to move a flat screen TV. Record model and serial numbers on the carton. To ease installation at your new home, color-code cables and connectors with stick-on labels. Photographing the connections also might be helpful.
  • Use Ziploc bags to pack similar items in desk drawers. Provided bags aren’t heavy and contain enough air cushion to protect contents, they can be placed in drawers. The air cushion prevents bag movement during your move across country.
  • Wardrobe cartons are designed to hold hanging clothing. You can place small, lightweight items (such as pillows) in the carton bottom. Make certain they’re secure because movement might dislodge and wrinkle the hanging clothes whether you’re embarking on a local move or a move across country.
  • When packing pairs of shoes, wrap each shoe separately. Shoes can scuff each other if not properly protected.
  • Review the items in your mini-storage facility before loading day. You might not have packed those items properly for long-distance moving. You also might want to eliminate some things that haven’t been used for a while.


  • Seek kid-friendly activities in your new city before moving. Setting a specific date gives children something to look forward to enjoying after their long-distance moving expedition.
  • Encourage children to create during their relocation preparation a “memory book” to remind them of their old home. Include photos of friends, schools, teachers, favorite restaurants and fun places. Add special touches, such as neighborhood aerial views, menus, church bulletins and local souvenirs.
  • Help your child research online your new neighborhood. The more kids know, the less scared they’ll be. Either find an online map or help the child draw a map of the area.
  • Add a little fun. Encourage children to decorate their boxes and add their own personal touches.
  • Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to help watch the children on moving day. On moving day, your attention will be divided and you can’t be in two places at one time.
  • Be mindful of a pet’s curiosity. During a move’s commotion, pro movers prop doors open and boxes can become hiding places. Place pets in a safe place.


  • Plants don’t travel well, but make lovely thank-you gifts. Consider adding some pretty bows to your houseplants and “gifting” them to special friends, teachers and service people shortly before making that cross-country move.
  • Turn donating clothing and other items into a special experience. Take the family to a Goodwill store or homeless shelter. This makes the donation more personal and meaningful. Children often will part more easily with toys and other possessions if they know they’re going to a good cause.
  • Inspect your bookshelves to decide which books you really want to keep. Books are heavy. Long-distance moving charges are weight-based. Place colored stickers on book spines to indicate those you’re willing to donate. Invite family and friends to take their choice of books. They’ll get a bargain and you’ll have less to pack.
  • You’ve been storing those cassettes and VHS tapes for years. Take them to a local company to digitize them. They’ll take up a lot less space. Plus, there’s no point paying for moving services to haul things you won’t use.
  • Leave propane tanks behind or give them to your old neighbors. Purging a tank for safe transport costs more than replacing it.


  • Make a checklist of all the places you’ll need to change your address. Include credit cards, loans, banks and former utility companies in case they need to send you a refund or final bill.
  • If you want your mail forwarded, save a post-office trip by doing it online.
  • Get two copies of school transcripts, insurance policies, medical records, bank records and birth certificates. This way you’ll have a copy to give appropriate parties and another to keep for your records.
  • Call your new department of motor vehicles or visit their website. Order a copy of your new state’s rules of the road manual. Also, determine your new state’s mandatory vehicle insurance laws so you’re prepared for moving out of state.
  • You may drive legally for 30 days with your old driver’s license after moving to a new state. Designate a specific time to renew your license within that timeframe.
  • Some banks are nationwide. Determine whether your bank has branches in your new location. Job-related moving expenses might be tax-deductible, so retain receipts in an envelope. Check IRS Publication 521.
  • Don’t have a personal address book? Copy all the numbers from your cell phone into a new phone book and keep it with you. Cell phones are easy to misplace and you might need to contact friends and family for last-minute needs. 


  • Firearms require special handling. Discuss their transportation with your certified moving consultant. If you own a gun safe, you’ll need to have the combination or the key on loading day so the driver can record model, caliber and serial number. One more bit of firearm-moving preparation: The law prevents pro movers from shipping ammunition.
  • Most frozen food can’t be transported on a cross country moving van. If you own a large frozen-food supply (especially expensive meat cuts) methods exist for separately shipping those items. Most communities have a cold-storage facility that provides dry ice, packing and next-day air shipping for after you’ve settled into your new home. Discuss this preparation point with your certified moving consultant.


  • Avoid creating situations during relocation preparation that might elevate your moving stress. Don’t schedule a flight or farewell party on moving day. Careful furniture handling is the cornerstone of a damage-free move. You don’t want to rush the moving men because you’re racing to catch a flight or attend an event.
  • Make certain the moving company and driver have your contact phone numbers. Include your new work number, if available, or the home phone number of someone able to contact you. Cellphone batteries die and cellphone service is inconsistent. You also should get the driver’s contact (or direct) phone number.
  • Traveling with your laptop? Give the moving company your e-mail address for timely communications as many drivers are “wireless.”
  • During loading day and before the professional long-distance movers leave, walk through all rooms and look in cupboards, closets and storage areas one last time. While you might have removed everything, it’s possible another family member “tucked” something away without your knowledge. Be on the safe side: Give it one more look.


  • Confirm acceptable payment forms with your moving company during the relocation-preparation stage. Movers don’t accept personal checks.
  • Credit-card payments must be processed before delivery. Discuss with the moving company when moving charges will be posted to your credit card.
  • You’re responsible on a long distance move for checking off inventory item numbers as full-service movers bring furniture and boxes into your new home. Take that responsibility seriously—it’s proof of delivery.
  • On delivery day, immediately inspect the contents of any boxes exhibiting exterior damage. If packed items have been damaged, save the carton and packing material for the moving company claims adjuster.


  • Create a “load last—unload first” carton for each family member. This preparation step enables everyone to separate essentials until the last minute and immediately make available those things they’ll want when arriving at your new home. Children find this especially comforting once your out-of-state moving has concluded.
  • Pack a travel kit, including eyeglasses, contacts, contact solution, first-aid kit, prescriptions and medications. When you’re moving cross country, you don’t want to have to hunt for these items while on the road.
  • Pack a complete set of bedding for each bed (mattress pad, sheets, pillows, pillowcases, blankets and spread) in its own separate box. Mark the box clearly for the specific room/bed. This facilitates making the beds in your new home.

Do you have additional relocation-preparation questions? Call National Van Lines877-590-2810.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Contact us to learn more about our various moving services and to request a free moving quote.