I have had several small moves within a state before, but when we had to move from Seattle all the way down south to San Antonio it was a whole new ball game. We had four weeks and four kids with lots of stuff and not a lot of money. I’ll be the first to admit it could have and should have been done better, but it was mostly a fault of mine in lack of planning and organizing ahead of time. So, let’s get right down to it! If you have limited time to pack and limited funds to move here are some very cheap and easy ways to make your move as smooth as possible.
Clean your home. Clean, clean and then clean some more. This will save a ton of time when you are packing. Put everything away where it belongs and throw anything out that is broken or no longer used or needed. Example: toys. Your kids will always have lots of toys, but not all of them need to come with you. The best thing to do while your cleaning is to carry a garbage bag with you and go through the toy box. Separate them into three categories: Keep, toss and not sure. The toys in the keep pile get thrown into the toy box and then you and your child should sit down and go through the not sure pile. Don’t keep toys that are broken. Don’t keep toys that are missing an arm or a wheel. You will end up throwing them away soon anyway. If you do this with everything in your home while you’re cleaning, packing will be a breeze.
Once your house is clean it is time to go get the boxes ready. I strongly advise that you buy plastic storage boxes. There are a few reasons for this. One, if they get wet they will not mold. Two, your children can not sit on them and break them. Three, if you have to leave any shelves or drawers behind you can use these boxes to store things until you can afford to buy replacement furniture. Four, you don’t have to label them because you can easily see through the clear plastic ones and know what room to place them in after you arrive at your new home. Five, they are great for extra storage and holiday storage. Six, you’re not going to tape them up, find something that belongs in the box later and have to rip it open just to place the item in there.
Plan your trip route. Mapquest.com is the perfect place to go for this. You can get an idea of how far you can drive everyday. Usually 6-7 hours of driving is plenty for one day. That’s about 350 miles a day. Plan out the cities you’ll be staying in and find the cheap hotels. If there are places nearby you want to visit make sure you add a day in that hotel. Make sure you are planning for stops every 3 hours without kids and every 2 hours with kids. Buy a notebook and in big letters write TRIP on the front and put it in a place you’ll always find it. Inside you’ll have each day’s plans and the cost and where you’ll be staying. Confirmation numbers and important phone numbers should also be listed here. This folder will be your trip bible once you’re ready to leave.
Organize your car. This is key in saving time looking for things later. Make a list of everything that needs to be packed in suitcases in the car so you do not have to rummage through the rental truck to find that extra diaper or pair of clothes. Have snacks and formula, diapers, blankets, clothes and more in an easily accessible area in your vehicle. Make sure your car is cleaned out and it has had an oil change and tire check. If anything is wrong with you car, get it fixed before you buy anything else.
Plan your meals. The cheapest way to do this is to bring a cooler and fill it with ice in the morning at your hotel. This will enable you to buy sandwiches or other not-needing-to-be-cooked items that you can eat at the rest stops. If you have the extra money after planning the overall cost of the trip, you can always stop for fast food or a restaurant.
Get your finances ready. Look around your home and get an estimate of the size truck you’re going to need to rent. Hiring a moving company for a three bedroom apartment can cost upwards of $4,000. For less than that you can pack yourself, rent a truck and have some fun on the way to your destination. Uhaul.com can give you an estimate online and you can reserve a truck at the same time. Make sure you ask whether the truck takes diesel or unleaded and what the gas mileage on the freeway is like. Add up the cost of the hotels and write it down. Add up the estimated cost of gas, add $30 for every 300 miles, as gas prices change from area to area, and write it down. Add up the cost of food and write it down. Finally, if there are any sites you want to see – write down the cost. Once you have the overall cost, it’s time to start making reservations. Reserve as far in advanced as possible. Online is the best way to go and Motel 6 is the best deal on the net.
Now that your house is clean, car fixed and finances and trip all planned out, it is time to start packing! Pack first those things which you rarely use. This includes most books, stuffed animals, toys, knick knacks, craft supplies and more. Begin taking apart any furniture that is not necessary to sleep, eat or sit on. Dedicate one room to place all boxes and packed items in. Trust me when I say it will give you a sense of accomplishment!
When you are done packing and as each room gets emptied, make sure to clean it thoroughly. This will also help you to find any items that otherwise may have gotten left behind. When you pack up the truck make sure to fill every nook and cranny. Don’t just throw things in there or you’ll be leaving other things behind. Fill the truck to the ceiling. Place valuables and electronics in the front of the truck. If someone breaks in there won’t be time for them to unpack everything and your valuables and electronics should be safe. When you load the dressers make sure you fill the drawers with little things. You will save some much needed space. Large pieces of furniture should have lots of boxes stacked on top and don’t fill the truck from the front back. Do it from one side to the other. That way if you have large flat objects, like mattresses, you can lay them on their sides on the other side of the truck. Make sure when you’re done packing up the truck that you lock the truck in the back with a lock that requires a key.
Now you’re old home is cleaned, your stuff all packed up, your vehicle organized, the money planned out where it will be going and your trip all planned out. This is the time to relax and have fun. It is a new place, most likely, and there will be new adventures and a whole new place to unpack. Yeah … don’t forget the unpacking. That may take longer than the packing did!