A long-distance move is a massive undertaking, even for a professional moving company. While a great team of professional movers may make the whole day look easy, you can ensure the process runs smoothly with a little insider knowledge.
Moving companies always aim for a few objectives. Moving day should be efficient, safe, and stress-free. Long-distance moving companies face an extra challenge. Unlike local moves, your items have a cross-country journey on the moving truck on a tight schedule.
We’ve included the top moving tips for avoiding hassle when heading to a new home.
Organization Goes a Long Way
Let’s start with everything you can do to help the moving crew long before they arrive. Packing, labeling, and communication are the best ways to ensure a cross-country move goes off without a hitch. Here are a few tips movers want you to know before they arrive.
Be Upfront During the Moving Estimate
To avoid last-minute surprises, outline the full inventory of your home when requesting your free quote. Some of the best moving companies offer virtual or in-person walk-throughs to help you with this step as well.
Certain items can slow down the day if they’re not noted in the initial contract. You want to make sure the movers aren’t surprised by:
- Overly fragile items
- Bulky furniture
- Valuable artwork
- Family heirlooms
- Hazardous materials
In some cases, the moving company will simply add the unusual item to your final bill. In others, they may need to leave it behind altogether.
Pack Like a Professional
Long-distance packing takes a little extra time and energy. Fragile items, for example, should be protected with bubble wrap and extra padding before heading onto the truck.
As for boxes, use strong cardboard and properly tape your box seams so they can make the long trip without breaking.
If you’re concerned about this step, consider hiring a company for packing services as well. Some companies offer plastic reusable boxes for rent that provide extra stability.
A few extra items to pay special attention to include:
- Mattresses: Wrap your mattress in a box or bag or request these special supplies from the company.
- Artwork: Alert your company of valuable artwork or decor before moving day and take extra care to protect the items from high temperatures and frequent movement.
- Televisions: Moving companies also offer special boxes for televisions, especially for long-distance moves. Be sure to keep all wires and accessories in a separate and well-marked box.
Label Your Items
Fasten clear labels on each box, noting its contents, location, and whether the contents are fragile or extra heavy. Not only will this help with your unpacking process, but also keeps them safe as they’re stacked in the truck.
Set Aside Personal Items
Certain items are best when brought in the car or left behind, particularly the things that made the off-limits list below. Keep these items and boxes in a separate closet or small room with clear instructions for the movers.
Check Out Customer Reviews
Once you’ve landed on the right interstate movers for your transition, take a deeper look at customer reviews. Past clients may indicate what to expect on your day-of experience as far as helping, tipping, and general experience.
Be Ready for Moving Day
In addition to fully packing up your home, a smooth moving experience has a lot to do with clearing the way for your team.
Communicate Day-Of Details
Make sure you and the company are on the same page before the big day. Double-check contact information, packing requirements, and any requests made by the company for paperwork.
Be sure to have the following details on hand:
- Moving company’s phone number
- Your new address
- Your original moving quote
- Packing instructions at the drop-off location
Ensure Parking and Entry
If necessary, alert your town or other tenants about when the moving truck will take up spots or block the driveway. Your moving team shouldn’t have to move the truck while loading and there should be safe access on the street.
If necessary, speak with your local parking authority about permits for truck or long-term parking.
Outsource Last-Minute Tasks
If you run into last-minute issues before your interstate move, check if your company offers packing supplies or even additional moving services. While these may add to your final cost, it is far better than leaving your items unprotected.
Helping Isn’t Always Helpful
One of the most common questions to the moving industry is: how much should a homeowner help their movers? In a nutshell, it’s best to do as much prep as possible and then make way for the team to do their job. It can be very tempting to jump in and carry a box or two, but doing so could complicate the day.
Here are some tips on helping during the moving process.
Help with the Transition
When your moving team arrives, alert them of your general box and room organization, how to get in and out of the house, and any other important details. Stay close by for any extra questions as things get started.
Offer Small Comforts
While not necessary, it’s always kind to offer things like water bottles or small snacks to your moving team. This is particularly helpful on a hot day or if your home has several flights of steps.
Offer Help But Respect Their Response
The best long-distance movers will turn down any help lifting furniture or arranging the truck. In most scenarios, the movers have a plan on how to pack the truck, and getting in the way could slow this down.
Also, remember that long-distance moving prices are rarely based on an hourly rate, so speeding up the day will not lower your final bill.
One of the most helpful things you can manage on moving day is removing any pets, children, or logistics that could slow down the move. For example:
Whenever possible, board your pets in a local kennel or transition them to your new home before moving day. Not only can the process be disorienting for some pets, but animals could get in the way of you and your movers’ safety.
For a successful move, arrange for childcare when the movers are in your home. A moving team has to work quickly and precisely, so it’s important to have as few people in the house as possible.
Clear a Path to the Truck
To save money on your initial estimate and to avoid additional fees, make sure the moving team can access your home from the street. You could be charged extra move costs for shuttle fees or too much distance between the truck and the door.
Additionally, clear away any packing supplies, debris, or garbage backs that accumulated as you packed. It’s important to keep walkways and rooms safe for you and your movers.
Know the Off-Limits Packing List
If you’re taking the DIY approach to pack or using a moving container company, be sure you know what can and cannot go on the truck. A moving truck can heat up during such a long-distance trek, so many moving companies include an off-limits list in their packing tips.
Flammable and Combustible Items
Interstate moving is a great time to clean out your garage. Hazardous materials like paint, oil, or batteries can’t make the trip in the moving truck. It’s best to dispose of them safely with your local dump and buy new products when you arrive. These items may include:
- Motor oil
- Lawn care products like pesticides
- Fire extinguishers
- Cleaning supplies
- Nail polish remover
- Propane tanks
Items like laptops, cell phones, and tablets are best packed in your car for the ride over. Both the hardware itself and, more specifically the batteries, should not spend a long time on the moving truck.
Pets and plants are best left to your own car when moving short or long distances. Be sure to keep things like extra pet food, litter boxes, and medication on hand for last-minute access.
Personal Items and Documents
Keep all your crucial documents and items like medications in a day-of box. Not only does this protect them from getting lost, but it also keeps them close in case you need special items during the move.
Never pack items that can spoil out of the fridge, even in a cooler. These items should always be taken in the car or thrown away.
Special Note for Outdoor Items
While moving companies often will accept outdoor furniture and decor, there may be stipulations before loading them onto the truck. For example, to cross state lines, you may need to ensure all larvae, seeds, and bugs are completely cleared off of these outdoor objects before moving.
Know Your Contract
For interstate and international moves, full-service moving companies often have complex contracts. Each one will often include details like:
- Payment terms
- Packing supplies
- Extra moving services
- Insurance information
Understanding your contract helps you communicate with your moving team and avoid scams. You should receive a detailed breakdown of services in your initial quote as well as what to expect on moving day.
Most importantly, keep your insurance documents on hand if something should break during the move. Be sure to document the accident with photographs and the time it occurred.
Most moving companies include a limited amount of basic insurance in each plan with the option to upgrade to full-value protection. The Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration offers a guide on how to understand your liability insurance on moving day and what to do if something goes awry.
Bill of Lading
A long-distance company will provide a bill of lading to indicate when you should expect your items. This could take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks, depending on your original agreement.
Avoid asking your drivers to speed up the trip on moving day, since the schedule is typically out of their hands. In some cases, moving trucks may combine the items of several homes in one cross-country trek.
Plan Ahead for Tipping
Be sure to have cash on hand for pick-up day, especially if there are movers only helping at your origin location. For example, you may have a different team at your new location.
In some cases, gratuity may be included in the contract or suggested by the owners. If you’re unsure about how to tip, we recommend anywhere from 5-20% of the final moving costs for long-distance movies.
More specially, we recommend tipping $50-$60 for large-scale relocations for each mover and driver, depending on the size of your home.
Prepare for Arrival
Take similar steps as you did on moving day to help your movers after the long trip. You should receive a heads up about the truck’s arrival anywhere between a few hours and two days beforehand. Here are some things to do to prep your home for an easy unloading process.
Clear the Way
As you did several days before, make sure there is plenty of space for your truck to park. If the truck has to stay on the street, speak with your new town’s parking authority about any unknown laws.
Be sure that the movers will have clear access to your main entryway. In the best-case scenario, you will have already measured the doorways of your new space to ensure your furniture will make it inside.
Clear the House
Pets and small children should take another day away from the house when the movers arrive. If this isn’t possible for some pets, designate a small room or even the bathroom for temporary care.
Be Available for Guidance
Movers may have more questions on arrival than pick-up, especially when placing furniture. Try to remain available for questions on where to bring each item, especially for items that you could not label.
Clarify Payment Terms
In most cases, final payments are due at drop-off. Be sure to have your card, cash, or check ready for the final amount so the movers can get on their way after the transition.
Adjust for Moving Container Companies
There are several long-distance companies, like UPack and PODS, that allow you to pack your own container before a truck carries it across the country.
If you are loading your own items into a container, remember to:
- Stay away from the off-limits packing list
- Pad and wrap items properly for long-distance trips
- Be ready when the truck arrives
- Follow the provided loading guides to maximize space
- Retain enough space around your trailer for easy pickup
FAQs for Long-Distance Movers
Should I Stay At Home During My Move?
Yes. You should always stay on premises during your move, both during the loading and unloading process. Movers may need you for any last-minute questions, signatures, or payments.
What Does a Full-Service Moving Company Provide?
You will clarify the extent of your moving contract during the estimate process. In most cases, even full-service long-distance moving companies offer optional add-ons. These include:
- Packing and unpacking services
- Packing supplies
- Fragile or antique item transport
- Piano transport
- Car transport
- International moving logistics
- Storage options
What if my moving company is late?
Moving day can be stressful enough without unexpected schedule issues. Here are some things to note if your company doesn’t make its scheduled window:
- Stay calm: If it’s only been a few minutes past the window, the driver may be stuck in traffic and right around the corner.
- Start by calling the company: If you were given several phone numbers, call your moving company before contacting the driver. The office may be able to answer your questions more succinctly.
- Check your contract: Look at your paperwork for notes about your final price if the delivery or pick is late.
After the drivers have pulled away from your home, you may be worried about the long ride ahead. Many companies provide a tracking device online so you can keep an eye on its progress. Keep your contract on hand in case the diver misses this window for drop-off as well.
Prepping for your moving day is not just about being a helpful customer. Even full-service moving companies need help from the homeowner to manage long-distance moves. Most importantly, find a trusted long-distance moving company that will guide you through the process and ensure a stress-free day.