Figuring out how to move across the across country can be one of the most stressful things a person can endure. There are so many different aspects to worry about, such as logistics, lodging and figuring out the cost to move.

With my move to Nashville only a few months away, I have already started planning my move. It's a major undertaking and I have been slowly tackling all aspects.

I thought I would share my tips as this will be my second move across the country in two years.

Moving long distance can be hectic and stressful, but it can be done. I'm sharing how to move across the country on a budget as I've now done it twice! These helpful moving tips will show you how to plan your route, how to pack your car, how to travel with pets and more!

Daily Mileage

Once you have figured out the total mileage for the trip, it's a good idea to break the mileage down into days or even hours.

Some people like to drive at a more leisurely pace and incorporate frequent stops. Others want the trip to be over as quickly as possible.

After determining how many miles you would like to cover in a day, it's important to look at a map and make sure this is feasible.

I also like to refer to a map to make sure my overnight stay is in a safe area with lodging.

Since I will be pre-booking my hotel stays in advance, it's important there is a hotel in the vicinity of where I would like to stop for the night.

This might include adjusting my original daily milage to make sure I am stopping in a safe area with lodging, gas station and dining options.


Once you have figured out how many miles your trip is, you can calculate how many times you will need to stop for gas. Simply divide how far you can go on a tank of gas into your overall mileage and round up.

Once you have your total, multiply how much it costs you to fill up a tank of gas by how many times you will need to refill.

This is one of the easiest and best ways to figure out how to move across the country on a budget.



Do you have any toll roads on your drive? You should know ahead of time based on your travel route. It's a good idea to keep change and some cash on you.

You don't want to be unprepared and have to stop at an ATM while traveling.



To maximize savings, it's best to book a hotel stay as early as possible. I'll initially start my hotel search with hotel chains where I have reward points. Otherwise, I always try to AirBnB it. 

Tip: AirBnB is a fun and creative way to save money. Over the past couple of years, I have stayed at a handful of AirBnB's and saved a ton of money. I've been able to rent an entire house, condo and apartment instead of a room at a hotel. If you want to stay at an AirBnb, here's a coupon for $30 off your first stay anywhere! 

My lodging requirements include:

  • Pet friendly
  • Safety
  • Cleanliness
  • *Breakfast is a great perk, but not always necessary

My biggest priority is to search for pet friendly hotels. Since I will be traveling with pets, their comfort is my main concern.

When reserving a room, I generally ask for a ground level room near a front or side entrance. This makes for a quick dash outside if my pets have to go to the bathroom.

I also like to walk my dogs in the evening and in the morning so they can get some exercise, so hotel location and safety is a top priority!



In an effort to eat healthy and save money, I like to pack a small cooler with bottles of water, fruit, granola bars, etc. If breakfast is included with my hotel stay, I'll usually grab a piece of fruit or yogurt for the road.

And because I am obsessed with coffee, I always refer to my Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts app on my phone for coffee locations. Here's a coupon for a free drink of your choice from Dunkin Donuts

The Yelp app is another great app to use on a move across the country. It's really convenient to be able to search for dining options ahead of time instead of relying on road signs since a lot of places aren't advertised.

Finally, using the Google Maps option is a great tool to find gas stations, restaurants and hotels!


Traveling with Pets

While I touched on hotel lodging earlier, my primary concern is making sure my pets are comfortable on the entire trip.

I always pack:

  • Dog beds (I prefer the Orvis brand because of their long lasting products)
  • Portable water bowl (I use this one on all our walks and outings)
  • Dog bags
  • Ziploc bags of food (this takes up minimal space and easy to toss once each bag is empty)
  • Food bowls
  • Wee wee pads (these are great to put in the bathroom at hotels for emergencies)

At every pit stop, one of us will walk the dogs while the other gets gas. This saves time by multi-tasking!


Tips on how to optimize your move

Leave really early in the morning. I find that if I can be on the road by 6 or 7am, I can really get a head start on the day. I prefer driving during day light hours, so I would rather drive early in the morning as opposed to late at night.

Multi-task at the gas station. Assign one person to pump gas and another person to run in to buy snacks. Each time you stop to get gas, you can easily waste 15-30 minutes of your time that you could be driving. This can add up, especially if you have to get gas three or four times in one day!

Try to avoid congestion during rush hour. While this cannot always be avoided, take a look at where you will be at a certain time of the day. If you anticipate being in a huge metropolitan area at 5:30pm, see if you can leave an hour early to try to beat traffic.

Keep a small garbage bag in your car. There is nothing worse than a bunch of garbage in your car and making it dirty. Fill the bag up and then toss it at the gas station!

Put your receipts in an envelope, especially if you will have reimbursements from an employer or for a tax deduction. You can deduct your move across country as long as you are starting a new job within 6 months of your move!

Keep your car organized! If you have an overnight bag, keep it in a convenient spot to make it easy to take out and repack each day. You don't want to have to dig and rearrange items each day, as that wastes time!

Be flexible. There are many elements you can't control, such as the weather or traffic. Give yourself some leeway when it comes to your move.


Other ways to save money

  • Redeem gas saving discounts (generally in increments of 10 cents a gallon) from your grocery store club card
  • Cash in points for gas cards or dining gift cards from reward programs. I rely on Ebates, Shopkick and Ibotta
  • Save your Starbucks freebies for the trip
  • Use an Entertainment book for Buy One, Get One free coupons. There are tons of nationwide dining coupons and coupons for oil changes. Try to purchase one for the city you are moving to so you can reuse it.
  • AAA card's can provide additional savings
  • Try to use the same gas station repeatedly to earn reward points
  • Book your lodging through a cashback website like Ebates if you don't have hotel reward points. This is my fave money to earn money back when I book hotels online. I earn a percentage of everything I purchase and the money gets deposited into my PayPal account. Hello, free money! 

What tips do you have on how to move across the country? How do you save money moving in general?