Packing up your belongings for a long-distance move takes plenty of work, planning and patience. It may seem a bit daunting, especially if you’re handling the move yourself. You’ll be logging long hours on the road in a rental moving truck or pulling a trailer.
Here are tips to stay entertained and safe:
Plot your route
Plan out the route to your destination for hotels and rest stops, said James Eckhart, manager at 14th Street Self Storage in Atlanta, which rents customers moving trucks. Use GPS apps (like Google Maps, MapQuest or InRoute) for directions. (Use apps like Google’s Waze once you’re on the road to access real-time traffic and road information).
While you’ll probably rely on GPS, it doesn’t hurt to print directions and have a road map handy.
“I never really trust my technology 100 percent,” said C. J. Steen, marketing director for On The Move Inc., which leases and sells moving trucks. “I always bring a regular map as a back-up.”
Book hotels ahead of time
Make hotel/motel reservations in advance so you know where you’ll be staying. If you like certain foods, research restaurants in towns where you have a basic idea you’ll be stopping to eat.
Make sure the truck is ready to go
Familiarize yourself with the truck and/or trailer, Eckhart said. Make sure everything in the back is tied down and secured so items don’t fall over and break.
Also, check your oil and make sure all lights and blinkers are working, Steen said.
Bring someone along
“I definitely recommend bringing a friend because it makes it go by faster,” Steen said.
They can also help with driving if you get too tired.
Pack a cooler
Have the cooler easily accessible and fill it with healthy snacks like fruit, string cheese, hummus and veggies, and plenty of water. Steen said other good road-trip snacks include pistachios, trail mix and beef jerky.
Keep overnight necessities nearby
“Pack an overnight bag with toiletries to keep inside the cab with you,” Steen said. “Then you don’t have to open the back and rearrange the truck to get the stuff you need for the night.”
Keep an eye on the gas gauge
Watch the gas and plan ahead so you don’t end up stranded in the middle of nowhere, out of fuel.
“Pay attention to the billboards and advertisements for gas stations,” Steen said. “Also, the gas station people know how far the next one is, so ask. It might be another one two hours away.”
Stop at well-lit gas stations, and try to fill up before dark if you don’t know the area, Steen added.
Get out and stretch and maybe even take a quick power walk to de-stress. There are many national parks located along major interstates, like the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, that offer scenic views, picnic areas and short trails. Take some time to check them out, who knows when you might pass by them again.
Crank up the music or listen to audio books
Many moving trucks only have AM/FM stereos and there could be long stretches of highway where you can only pick up a station or two. (And maybe you’re not a big fan of hard rock or country music). “There just are not very good radio stations when you’re moving across the country,” Steen said. “It’s a long, boring drive without music.” Bring an mp3 player and an adaptor so you can listen to iTunes or stuff on your phone. Also, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Rdio are music apps that are free or inexpensive. You can download audio books from Audible (or use the native Podcast app on iOS).
Make it into a mini-vacation
If you’re not in a big hurry, stop in little towns along the way and see if there are touristy things to do, Steen suggested.
That’s especially nice if you’re traveling with children. These kinds of short breaks are necessary, and you can use them to visit local sites or learn some local history.
Traveling with kids? Play games.
“For kids games are key,” said Marc Goodin, president of Storage Authority, a self-storage franchisor in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Now there are ‘together’ games and computer games. Many computer games like Candy Crush will preload so you can play them for a while even without Internet.”
If you’re looking for family-oriented games, play trivia games or Alphabet I Spy Road Signs, where you use street signs or license plates to find the letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order. Of course, the old-fashioned license plate game is always a great option.
“We also ask Siri on our iPhone how far to ‘so and so’ and other fun questions,” Goodin said. “It really works.”