Whether you're going off to pursue another degree, leaving for a job, or skipping town, at some point in your life you may find yourself moving to a new state. This may be a state with which you are very comfortable - perhaps you have friends, you know the local bars by heart, and you even have loyalty cards at the little coffee shop down the street from the park. If you're anything like me, however, this does not describe your situation...
As I'm typing this, I'm in a hotel room with my mother. We've just finished Day One of our three day journey from my home state, North Carolina, to my new home, Boulder, Colorado.
When I decided to make the move to Colorado, I immediately Google searched and scoured through my Pinterest to find tips and tricks from one BG (basic girl) to another. What I found was a lot of articles tailored to rising freshman and small families, but nothing for people like me.
I'm single, I'm a graduate student, and I'm only taking my little car! Does this sound like you?
You're driving somewhere over 24-hours away. You plan to:
a.) drive straight through. You can handle it!
b.) spend a night or two in a hotel and make it a road trip. Vacation!
c.) stay at a truck stop and take your chances. Who's going to bother you?
You're an hour and a half out from your destination, but you've had to use the restroom for the last 6 miles. Up on the right, there's a rest area. You:
a.) tell yourself to suck it up! You're so close!
b.) pull over! Is two minutes worth all of that discomfort?!
c.) look for an empty bottle in the front seat somewhere. Can't be that difficult...
Halfway through your drive and it's lunchtime. What's on the menu?
a.) You packed a lunch. Wraps are great for food on the go!
b.) Stop and try some local fare! Nothing expensive, but it's nice to get out of the car for a second.
c.) There's a Clif Bar in my backpack, I think. It might be melted but it's still good.
If you answered 'b' to the majority of those questions, this guide is for you!
Tip One: PLAN AHEAD!
Take out your phone or a physical map and chart the route you want to take. Think about how long you want to be in the car per day, places you should stop for a meal, and cities you want to spend the night in. Research the towns and make sure they have places to stop and eat (Chipotle?).
Tip Two: Pack lightly.
If you're like me, this might be the most important tip. It's important to keep your storage capacity in mind while you're packing. I ended up leaving a lot of things at home, but nothing I couldn't live without. You'll save a lot of space by leaving the 3+ suitcases at home and packing your clothes in XL Ziplock Bags instead. If you think you'll use a rolling suitcase in your new home and would like to bring it, pack the heaviest things in there such as full-sized toiletries, books, appliances, etc. It'll be a lot easier to transport those things in a container with wheels, and your clothes will fill those plastic bags without weighing them down!
Tip Three: Have a hotel bag separate from the rest of your stuff.
Go ahead and research the weather of the places in which you'll be spending the night and pack accordingly. I'm wearing one pair of jeans throughout the whole trip along with my sneakers: in my backpack I have three pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, two bras, and three shirts. I have a small toiletries bag, my chargers, and a few electronics in that bag as well. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is rifle through all of your belongings to find that one really comfy sweatshirt that you planned to wear today... Just leave it separate!
Tip Four: Buy bulky items there, if you can.
Pillows, mattress pads, a comforter/duvet, sheets... That stuff takes up a lot of room! Save up some money before you go so you don't have to drag your old stuff across the country. Besides, if you come back for the holidays, you're going to wish you had left yourself a little more! I also didn't bring any towels. I figured it was time to upgrade my light pink towels anyway. Pretty sure they used to be purple...
Tip Five: Pack the car in segments.
In the two days before your departure, pack up the things you don't need everyday. I put all of my clothes into my car three days before I left and just washed what was in the hamper and lived out of that hamper until it was time to pack even that stuff up. The night before, pack everything except for your one separate bag, and all you have to do in the morning is get dressed, eat breakfast, say goodbye, and go!
Tip Six: Mail what doesn't fit, but has to go.
Most of my winter clothes did not fit into my small car. So the week prior, I boxed up everything I could into pre-addressed packages to be mailed to me by my father once I was in my new home. You can do this for anything but I found that winter clothes made the most sense to ship. They can't be broken like glass, they're relatively light despite being bulky, and they aren't necessary for the time of year in which I'm moving. Research the prices for your boxes - take their dimensions and weight and go down to your local USPS and UPS stores and ask them to give you an estimate!
Tip Seven: Share the drive time.
If you're lucky enough to have someone who is crazy enough to do this with you, split the driving time with them. Let the driver control the stereo and try to be respectful of their needs as well as your own. Oh, and spoil them.
Tip Eight: Have fun!
Being stuck in a car for 12-hours can be really boring but bring rented TV shows to catch up on, cool podcasts, captivating audiobooks, a killer new album, or play a game! Happiness is a choice: choose to enjoy the experience and be grateful for the amazing opportunity.
Tip Nine: Document this experience.
In ten years (maybe sooner), you're going to look back on this time and think about how cool it was and how much fun you had. Take pictures, write in your journal, maybe even buy a souvenir shot glass at a gas station! You are making choices that will change your life; capture the moment and savor it before it's gone.
If no one else has told you, congratulations on your amazing opportunity! I hope these tips have made your move a little more enjoyable and that you have safe, happy travels!
If you've enjoyed this article and think someone else would too, share it with your friends!
Now, I'm off to bed to get a restful night of sleep before Day Two of my trip. Goodnight and don't text and drive!