Two and a half years ago, we made a huge decision and moved our little family 2,000 miles away. Away from our home. Away from our families. Away from our history.
We wanted something different for our children than what one usually finds in southern California. So we packed up, said goodbye, and headed out. Oh if only it had actually been that easy!
Here are the logistical details of how we moved with 3 young kids, a dog, and a WHOLE lot of stuff!
- Yard Sale! Get rid of as much as you can because you can always replace it. We didn’t have the financial resources to sell every thing and buy new. We spent about $2300, including gas, for our 26′ Penske truck rental. It would have cost us more to buy another fridge, washer and dryer, new beds, clothes, etc. But, if your family is smaller, definitely consider this!
- You will be very lucky to get everything in one trip. Be prepared to let things go at the last minute, or get a storage unit, or ask some SUPER AWESOME FRIENDS (you know who you are) to store things for you.
- If you have a lot of stuff like us, consider towing a trailer. We have 2 capable vehicles, so we towed 2 trailers.
- Expect EVERYTHING to take longer. Traveling with kids and a dog takes longer in general, let alone across the country. More people to go potty, finish eating, and lets be real: just getting in and out of the car takes forever. Which leads me to point 5.
- Make stops worth it. My husband hates to stop. Hates. It. So when we do stop, it is to get gas, eat, use the bathroom (the dog too), and run laps. Literally, run. Or, at least make them run. Look for rocks or pick up trash, play with the dog, anything to get them engaged on something besides the car and expel some pent-up energy.
- Drive at night. This was huge for us. In fact, every time we travel long distance, we try to drive at night. This is when we get the most ground under us. This minimized stops for us, and shortened them too. And, there is less traffic. But, please do it safely. If you are tired, pull over or switch drivers! I’m a night owl and can’t usually sleep in the car. My husband falls asleep very easily, so I’m usually the one to drive the late-night hours, since I’ll be awake anyway.
- Ask for help driving. If you’re moving long-distance and driving alone, you will want help. Especially if you have little’s. Chances are you know someone that would love to take a road trip with you and your 3 adorable and not at all noisy or impatient kiddos. Then fly them home. Small price to pay for the extra helping hands.
- If you can afford the time, take one whole day out of the car. We have family that lives 2/3 of the distance between California and Alabama so we stayed a night and whole day. It was a good reset for everyone, not just the kids.
- Movies. We are not the kind of people who let our kids live on devices. They do not play with our phones, they do not watch movies when we get in the car, and they’ve only recently begun using an iPad to play educational games. However, I do have a built-in DVD player in my Suburban. On this trip I was SO glad we had it. When it’s the difference of having 30 more driving minutes, or stopping right there, I’ll take the driving. If you do not have a built-in one, try this set up. It will play different movies on each screen, if need be, or link them up to show the same one.
- Take a day trip. If you don’t usually spend a long time in the car, consider taking some day trips where you will be in the car for a few hours at a time. This will get your children (and dog) used to sitting longer, and also give you a good idea of how long you can really drive at a time. Then Google your route and plan stops accordingly.
I sure hope this list helps ease your mind about moving! It can be done and with minimal emotional scarring. Remember, though, it’s stressful on them as well. Those little-people-with-big-emotions are having their life turned upside down too.
One last suggestion, hide some toys a few weeks before your move so they can have something different to play with in the car. Little kids forget about toys very quickly so it will be like having new toys to them. Re-introduce a new one every day, or every hour if you have to! Anything to keep the peace and create some sanity while rolling down the road.
Have you made a big move with little people? What was something that really made a difference in your trip?