A Cross Country Move and Road Trip
I wanted to put together a post about our move from New York to California. Initially I was planning on only writing out a few details, but basically ended up writing a novel. It’s all a bit personal, but I wanted to make sure and include the details about our journey so I can look back on them later, and I do think there is some helpful info here. So if you happen to be making a move, planning a cross country road trip (or just contemplating a long road trip in general), or traveling with pets, this post is for you.
Feel free to leave a comment with any specific questions – I am more than happy to help and share my insights, as I couldn’t find too many answers to the questions I had before we started our moving process.
Why We Drove: Driving across the country wasn’t really a choice for us. You see not only did we have a car we needed to get from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, we also have three pets (two pugs, one cat) who we also needed to relocate with us. And sure we could have paid a moving company to truck our SUV and could have flown with our pets, but that all costs a pretty penny and we were on a budget since moving on it’s own costs a ridiculous amount of money. Most importantly, taking a road trip across the country sounded like a blast! I had never done it, and have always had the urge to. Chad used to tour in bands, so he’s driven all around the country but he had never taken a road trip for the sake of a road trip, and was also really looking forward to the experience. Since we didn’t have a place setup to live in LA yet and both had the luxury of taking some time off of work, we weren’t really in any hurry which was so nice. In hindsight, not having a strict timeline is essential, especially when things go wrong or not to plan. And they will…but that’s the point in the trip when the real adventure starts anyway!
Hiring Movers: After looking into and budgeting all the options (movers, pods, shipping, etc.), we ended up hiring a moving company to bring all of our furniture and belongings out here for us. Funny enough, our stuff is actually taking it’s road trip with the movers right now and won’t be to us until next week! So while I can’t yet give our moving company a proper review just yet, the first part of the process went great. Our moving service offered one month free storage in NY (most companies offer this wherever you are), so we used up a couple of weeks of that allotment since we didn’t have a destination address to provide to them when they came to collect our things (when we found our new place last week, you better believe they were the first to get our new address!). If you’re hiring movers, make sure to read the reviews on the company every where you can (Yelp, BBB, etc.) and also make sure to investigate all names the company goes by. I noticed quite a few companies have a couple names they go by – often times, if their web address is different from their formal company name people have rated them under just their web address name. While getting estimates, we received a quote from one company that was super cheap, but then looked at their reviews…I was blown away by how criminal this company sounded and how awful their ratings were – it’s such a shame their SEO still comes up towards the top of the Google page when searching for moving companies online. In short, absolutely make sure to investigate the company…investigate them like it’s your job!
Divide and Conquer: There’s so much to do for a big move, that the sentimental feelings of leaving a place you’ve called home and the people you love in that city can get sidetracked with the stress of the moving details. Since Chad was finishing up some big projects at work and was working long days leading up to the move, I took on the majority of the packing and he handled the logistical side of things he could work on from his desk during the day (getting estimates from movers, finalizing moving contracts, dealing with our old landlord, etc.). The divide and conquer method really worked well for us.
Don’t Let the Move Rule You: It really is crazy how much the moving process can take over your life. I had wanted to have this kind of carefree last couple of weeks in New York where I visited my favorite places and just really enjoyed the city, but honestly, that didn’t get to happen at all. But, that’s totally fine – those places will always be there! However, for those nearest and dearest friends we have in New York, I wasn’t going to pass on seeing them just because I had a bunch of moving to-do’s on my list. Since I was finding my time to be very limiting, we planned a last minute get together with some of our closest friends. Instead of arranging a dinner or drinks out, we had our friend Kristen lead the most incredible sound bath in our empty apartment (after the movers had taken it all away). After the sound bath we opened some wine, ordered pizza, and all just laid around and talked…it was so incredibly special and personal, and made us feel so very loved. The next day we pulled out of town, and I couldn’t stop smiling thinking about how special our last night had been.
What We Brought With Us (in the car): While we thought we had sent off most of our stuff with the movers, we still had quite the load that needed to come with us knowing we wouldn’t be seeing whatever we gave the movers for close to a month. There were also a couple things we forgot to hand over to the movers that now needed to come with us, like our friggin Dyson vacuum! Since we needed the car to be fairly spacious for the pets, Chad tied the four suitcases we were bringing as well as that darn vacuum cleaner to the roof of our Jeep. It looked hilarious, something out of a Griswold movie – these four awesome, adorable vintage suitcases and then a huge vacuum all up there! Anywho, the roof situation gave us plenty of room in the car to put our kennel and layout some dog beds, as well as a little floor room for the pets to move around.
I picked up a bunch of healthy snacks from Trader Joe’s before we left so that we would have healthy food options during the day, because healthy food is so hard to find on a road trip! It was hard to even find a decent grocery store most of the time, so make sure to load up on healthy options before you leave! All of our tech equipment we would need for the month also came with us (cameras, laptop, tripod, etc.), as well as our toiletries. If you plan on staying at motels on a road trip, make sure to pack your shampoo/conditioner and a hair dryer, because they don’t provide those at most budget-friendly options!
Planning The Route: Considering the timing of our move was the middle of winter, we chose to take a more southern route. We used Roadtrippers, an absolutely incredible iPhone app, to help us plan our route. The app prices out gas costs and mileage based on your stops, which is incredibly helpful when planning. It also provides accommodation and food options in each city you’re in, plus so much more. We initially planned for a five day road trip, with stops in Virginia, Nashville, Dallas, and New Mexico. That plan changed once we figured out we wanted to drive shorter distances and stop in a couple of other places, but it was great to have a general route set as we pulled out of New York.
Driving Apps: In addition to Roadtrippers, here’s a few other apps we used. We lucked out with our timing coinciding with very cheap gas prices nationwide ($1.40/gallon in a lot of places!), but had downloaded the GasBuddy app to have on hand just in case. We also used Waze to monitor traffic and find the quickest routes when we needed to. In terms of entertainment, we are used to taking long car rides and both really enjoy silence, but of course it was essential to have some good tunes on Spotify downloaded when we needed a little pick-me-up. For the long driving days through Arkansas and Texas we downloaded a handful of podcasts, mainly Marc Maron’s WTF podcast (his interview with President Obama was my fave!), as well as the Serial podcast trial updates from Season 1 that just happened to be being posted most of the days we were driving.
From the app notes above it may sound like we used our phones a lot, but we actually were barely on them. We both loved getting to see everything and experiencing it all without worrying about blogging or posting Instagram updates or anything like that. There were a lot of things I saw that really blew me away and sometimes even moved me to tears, but instead of snapping a quick pic, I often chose to just lock up the memory in my head and looking back on it, I’m very glad I chose to do that.
Traveling with Pets: I know everyone’s pets are different, but for us, it was a bit unreal how easy the pets were during the road trip. They quickly acclimated to the long drives and different motels each night. And oddly enough, they seemed to really enjoy it all. We were most worried about our cat, as we had given him a test-run in the car a few weeks before we left, in which he freaked the f*** out. He hated it. So, we were quite curious as to how this trip would go with him. Perhaps it was the fact he had his pug brothers to calm him down or perhaps because his kennel, litter box, food/water, and bed were all in the car to comfort him…either way, he was as cool as a cucumber. He’d sleep in his kennel, get up and explore a little, lookout the window, eat some food, and then come up and sit with us. We couldn’t believe it! And the dogs were perfect as well (although that was expected, considering they are theeee best!). We found out during our trip (via BringFido.com) that each and every Motel 6 is pet friendly and doesn’t have an additional pet fee. Pets stay for free! How cool is that?! And we stayed at some pretty great Motel 6’s…they all felt clean and some of them had the cutest, kitschy decor. Traveling with pets does add a bit of work, and after a long day in the car it was so nice to pull up to a no-frills spot that welcomed our pets and didn’t put us in some crummy side room because we had them, as some other pet-friendly hotels will do. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, BringFido.com provides a list and the details for all of pet-friendly hotels in the country.
There were of course times I did take photos, and those I’ll share tomorrow, as well as a look at the route we took from New York to California.