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What Should I Bring on a Long-Distance Move?

What's in this article?
  1. What To Bring In Your Car
  2. Important Documents
  3. Medications And First Aid
  4. Food And Mess Kits
  5. Tools
  6. Emergency Gear
  7. Maps And Navigation
  8. Comfortable Clothes And Shoes
  9. In-Car Entertainment
  10. Shipping Your Belongings
  11. Choosing What To Ship
  12. Packing Like A Pro
  13. Tracking And Documentation
  14. Scheduling Pickup And Delivery
  15. Using Moving Checklists
  16. What To Keep With You
  17. Tips For Moving Day
  18. Conclusion
What Should I Bring on a Long-Distance Move?

Moving to a new home in a different state or country can be incredibly exciting. However, making the long-distance move can also be highly stressful and overwhelming.

With so much to do for a big move, it's easy to feel lost about what you should bring, what should be shipped, and what can be left behind. Proper planning and being strategic about what makes the trip can save you time, money, and headaches down the road. Here's a guide to help determine what you should bring for a smooth, successful long-distance move.


What to Bring in Your Car

Your car will be packed to maximum capacity when embarking on a long road trip movie. While throwing everything you might need, being selective and only bringing the essentials is vital. This list focuses on the key items in your car when driving to your new home.

Important Documents

During a move, key personal identification, medical records, vehicle information, and other imperative paperwork are crucial. Make copies of these documents in case the originals get lost or damaged.

Consider keeping them in a lockbox or weatherproof folder for extra protection. Some essentials include:

  • Driver's licenses
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Vehicle registration and insurance
  • Medical records
  • Bank account info
  • Credit cards
  • Marriage certificates
  • Military discharge papers
  • Titles for your properties

Medications and First Aid

Don't forget to bring a substantial supply of medications and basic first aid items. The last thing you want is to wind up sick or injured on the road without proper medication. It's smart to bring:

  • Prescriptions, over-the-counter meds, supplements
  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Thermometer
  • Pain relievers
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Antihistamines

Food and Mess Kits

Having snacks, drinks, and mess kits will be essential for the trip and your first days in the new location. Pack:

  • Snacks like protein bars, fruits, vegetables, sandwiches
  • Drinks like water, juice, sports drinks
  • Yeti cooler or lunchbox with ice packs
  • Plates, cups, utensils
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags


Various basic tools can get you out of a jam on move day or during your drive. Consider bringing:

  • Hammer
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Duct tape
  • Bungee cords
  • Multi-tool or pocket knife
  • Work gloves

Emergency Gear

Nobody wants to deal with roadside emergencies, but having essential gear just in case will give you peace of mind. Things like:

  • Spare tire
  • Jack
  • Road flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Warning triangles
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher

Maps and Navigation

Don't rely solely on phones or GPS systems on moving days. Have backup maps and directions printed out or easily accessible. Bring:

  • Printed directions
  • Road atlas
  • GPS device
  • Phone mount/charger
  • Offline maps app

Comfortable Clothes and Shoes

You may be driving for hours, so dress comfortably for the trip. Wear:

  • Stretchy pants or shorts
  • Breathable shirt
  • Light jacket
  • Supportive shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

In-Car Entertainment

Road trip boredom is inevitable, so load up your car with entertainment options. Some ideas:

  • A tablet loaded with movies
  • Audiobooks
  • Favorite playlists downloaded
  • Portable speakers
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Books and magazines

Shipping Your Belongings

For long-distance moves, shipping some of your belongings through movers, PODs, or freight companies is usually a necessary part of the process. Deciding what should be shipped versus what you should take can be challenging. Follow these tips to make shipping your things go smoothly.


Choosing What to Ship

Carefully assess each item and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it very fragile or delicate? Ship it.
  • Is it valuable, like an antique? Ship it.
  • Is it heavy or bulky furniture? Ship it.
  • Can it be easily replaced at my new home? Don't ship it.

Prioritize shipping irreplaceable items or pieces with sentimental value. Appliances and furniture that would be difficult to transport in a vehicle are also good candidates for shipping.

Packing Like a Pro

You can save money by packing boxes rather than having movers do it. Follow these tips:

  • Use strong, uniform-sized boxes.
  • Wrap fragile items individually with bubble wrap or paper.
  • Pack heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top.
  • Fill empty spaces with packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • Label boxes clearly by room and contents.
  • Use color-coded labels to indicate priority boxes.

Tracking and Documentation

Keep diligent records of what gets shipped and when.

  • Photograph expensive electronics and valuables before packing.
  • Number and inventory each box and its contents.
  • Save tracking numbers and print shipping receipts.
  • Insure valuable items for the total replacement value.

Scheduling Pickup and Delivery

Careful timing is key.

  • Schedule pickup to begin 2-3 days before your move-out date.
  • Have movers deliver large items first so they are in place before you arrive.
  • Unpack as soon as possible so nothing gets lost in boxes.

Using Moving Checklists

Checklists will be your best friend during this coordinated process. Create them for:

  • Inventory of boxes and their contents
  • Items being shipped vs. taken with you
  • Pickup and delivery schedule for movers
  • Payment tracking to movers and shipping companies

Staying organized from start to finish ensures you know where everything is at each journey step.


What to Keep with You

While shipping essential items and furniture is crucial, some things should stay with you for the drive.

  • Valuables: Items like jewelry, cash, and small electronics should stay with you. Use a concealed travel pouch for easy access and security.
  • Medications and Toiletries: Keep medications, toiletries, and a few days' worth of clothes easily accessible during the drive. Don't let them get buried in the moving truck.
  • Kid and Pet Necessities: If moving with children or pets, keep their favorite toys, snacks, blankets, and other daily essentials with you in the vehicle so they're comfortable.
  • Plants and Gardening Supplies: If moving mid-growing season, keep the plants you transport well-watered. Pack gardening tools you may need right away.
  • Snacks and Drinks: Stock up on snacks, drinks, and meals if you won't have kitchen access right away. Granola bars and water bottles are inexpensive but handy.

Tips for Moving Day

Moving day will be hectic. Stay calm and make it go smoothly with these tips:

  • Do a Final Walkthrough: Walk through each room, closet, cabinet, drawer, attic, and crawl space to ensure nothing gets left behind. Check the yard, too.
  • Create a Moving Day Box: This contains things you'll need handy, like utility knives, scissors, tape, markers, trash bags, etc. Keep it separate from packed boxes.
  • Back-Up Computers and Data: Prevent losing valuable files and data by backing up your computer and electronics before disconnecting.
  • Take Inventory: Do a final inventory check before movers arrive and get copies of the paperwork noting what they'll be transporting.
  • Clean Up: Thoroughly clean your home before turning in the keys and getting the full security deposit back.
  • Load Your Directions: Have directions pulled up and the gas tank full to drive straight to your new place without stops.
  • Keep Essentials Handy: Unpack things you'll need immediately, like toiletries, meds, and laptop chargers, so they aren't buried.


Long-distance moves take extensive preparation and planning. Begin organizing, purging, and packing well in advance to make the process less overwhelming. Strategically choosing what makes the trip in your vehicle versus what gets shipped is key.

Follow the moving checklist and timelines above, and don't be afraid to ask for help from professionals or friends. With organization and forethought, you'll be able to enjoy your long-distance move and settle smoothly into your exciting new location.

Hiring a trustworthy moving company will also boost your chances at a stress free move. A1 Auto Transport offers long-distance moving services at affordable prices to all 50 states plus over 190 countries around the globe.

Get a free quote on your next long distance move.

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Tony Taylor's journey in the auto transport industry began with a simple but powerful belief: he could do it better. Purchasing his first tow truck, he laid the cornerstone for what would become A-1 Auto Transport. With over two decades of hands-on experience, Tony has grown to be an industry veteran, an invaluable resource to whom other companies in this field often turn for advice.

Through hard work and dedication from Tony and his team, A-1 Auto Transport is now one of the largest United States based global auto transport companies. With offices and storage facilities scattered across major U.S. cities and throughout many countries abroad, Tony ensures that a dedicated staff of experienced professionals stands ready to provide unbeatable service at highly competitive prices.

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