Tips on How to Keep Your Cool and Enjoy the Trip
Moving is stressful any way you look at it. If you’re alone, the idea of it can be even more daunting due to having to do all the planning by yourself. It’s not the end of the world and you can do it with careful planning and a little knowhow. Here are tips to get you going.
Finding a Place to Live
A good place to start is Craigslist.com , a huge online bulletin board that has branches in major cities around the world. Find the city that you want to move to (or in the suburbs of) and look for "Apartments for Rent", "Houses for Rent" or check out the real estate section if you’re planning to buy a new home.
Call and talk to multiple people, interviewing them fully. Ask for extra photos of the place, and if you can, visit. If visiting isn’t possible, then go to Google Earth and look at the area that way, it can give you a visual reference to the area you are planning to move in if you have the street address of the property. Really check the place, and the owner to make sure all is legit. When you find your place, call and arrange service in advance for electric, phone, etc. Doing it now will save you the hassle later.
It pays to contact the Chamber of Commerce of the city you want to move to. Call and tell them that you are planning a move there, and ask for maps or other literature they may have that would be of use to you. The Chamber of Commerce is there to assist you to get to know the area, with demographics, maps, brochures, and booklets of local information. They usually have websites, so check them out online, too.
Prepare to Move
Once you have found your new place, then start packing. Get boxes with lids, packing tape and pads/packing peanuts/packing paper or newspaper and get busy. Good resources for these things are office supply stores, Budget Rent a Car or Truck and UHaul, among others. Buy boxes in bulk to save money, after comparing prices online to get the best price. Another source of boxes is your local grocery store. Call them and ask them to set aside boxes (with lids or closing flaps) so you can come pick them up.
The idea of packing is to make sure that the items don’t move around. Fragile items should be well insulated/padded against shifting and moving with packing peanuts, newspaper or tissue paper and sometimes clothing to cushion against any potential friction. Tape each and every box very, very well, all the way around the entire box, to seal the box and make it hard to get into. This wards off pilfering and dishonest movers. I’ve lost many items in my younger days to seemingly trustworthy moving companies who hired shifty moving people. Learn from my mistakes. Tape the box in both directions. A taping "gun" (sold in just about any moving supply place) is useful for doing this.
Renting a Truck and Hiring Labor
Price out your moving expenses by first calling around to movers and seeing how much it would cost for them to drive your items from one location to another, interstate. It is usually very expensive and not less than $1000, more if you have a lot of furniture and belongings. Compare big names and don’t skimp on quality. You don’t want to trust unknown people without solid, verifiable references with all your precious stuff. It isn’t worth the risk. If it is too expensive then rent a truck and hire movers to pack and unpack it on both ends. This gives you more control and keeps away those who load their moving truck then ask for extra money/change the rules (another tactic used by unscrupulous movers). Make sure to hire movers on both ends of your trip. A good resource is eMove.com.
To rent a truck just call a big name such as Budget, Avis, Hertz or UHaul. See if they have any specials, compare prices and truck sizes. For moving a tiny apartment you probably can get away with a 10′ truck if you don’t have huge furniture. I used a 16′ truck for a lot of stuff, selling off my bed, couches and other stuff that I didn’t want to make everything fit well. It was a perfect size and I actually had a few feet of room left when it was fully packed. It is a good idea to rent furniture pads and a dolly (hand truck) to move boxes as well. It aids your movers in getting the items packed quicker and more efficiently.
Planning Your Trip
Get on the Internet and Mapquest your trip (www.Mapquest.com), putting in your starting address and your destination address. Plan your route then print out the maps and street directions. It is a great service and costs nothing. It’s like having a travel club at your fingertips without spending the money to join one.
Plan your hotel stays by researching them online, choosing places with easy access to the highway. If you’ve never driven a 16′ truck before, it pays to stay close to the highway, to avoid driving into areas that may have clearance issues and make driving a tall truck difficult. The simpler you make it for yourself, the better. Make reservations in advance, and ask for internet deals. I got a room at LaQuinta Inn in Savannah, Georgia for $29/per night due to an internet special. It pays to use the net to find discounts on hotel accomodations.
Prepare Your Pets
When moving, keep your pets in front in the cabin of the truck with you rather than in the back with all the boxes. It is dangerous to transport pets with furniture and other heavy items due to the possibility of shifting of heavy items. It is important that your pets are up with you, doing otherwise is cruel so just don’t do it. Make sure your pets have food, water and for cats, a cat box along for the trip. Check on them as you drive, making sure they are doing ok and are not in any distress.
Hit the Highway
Once the truck is packed, give yourself a few days to get to your destination and don’t rush. It takes a little time to get used to how the truck moves. Just figure that it takes longer to brake and react than a normal car. Avoid low clearance areas and take the main streets to get to the highway. Remember, the truck is taller than your car is, so it can rake off low lying trees or other things. This means if you go through fast food drive throughs, it’s best to pay attention to any clearance signs and drive around low overhangs. When you rent the truck, they usually tell you what the clearance level is on it, so you will know how many feet clearance is ok to go under. Generally I didn’t encounter any problems on my moves, just had to park around a few drive through windows and walk over to pick up my food here and there, no big deal.
Take time to rest when needed, don’t push your luck by overdoing things. If you’re tired, pull of the road at a rest stop, hotel or restaurant. Don’t let yourself get too tired. Someone I know lost a family member driving a truck and who fell asleep at the wheel. It isn’t worth your life to rush things like that. As long as you are rested and take it slow and steady, all should go smoothly.
Once you’re at your new home, let the movers unpack your truck, then turn it back into the rental agency with a full tank of gas. If you don’t, the rental place will charge you a penalty for it, so make sure to do this.
It’s a huge feeling of accomplishment to have the trip behind you, especially in a new and better environment. Give yourself time to adapt and explore your new environment and take note of places that look interesting to you. Moving long distance can be very enjoyable, so let yourself go and take the plunge. You may just be glad that you did. I know I am.