How to Plan Your Moving Road Trip

Joe Roberts
Researcher & Writer
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Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
June 09, 2022
6 min read

At a glance

Driving a moving truck instead of hiring a full-service mover can save you money, but it requires thorough planning beforehand. This is especially true if you’re moving long distance. You may think you’re a cross-country road trip pro, but, as you know, there’s a lot more to driving a moving truck cross-country than picking a playlist and overspending on road food.

We've put together some handy moving tips to help you plan a safe, cost-effective, and even fun moving road trip. This guide will cover navigation, meal prep, emergency preparedness, sightseeing, and more.

Moving road trips 101: Tips for driving across the country

Ask someone to drive a backup vehicle

Ask a friend or family member to follow your moving truck rental in your car (or theirs if you don’t have one). That way, you’ll be able to get help if the truck breaks down or catches a flat in the middle of nowhere. If having a backup driver isn’t an option for you, our next tip is even more essential.

Got extra cars?

Prepare for emergencies with roadside assistance

When you rent your moving truck, you can also purchase roadside assistance from your rental company. For a cross-country move, you should always pay for this service.

Keep in mind that it usually won’t cover roadside assistance for your personal vehicle. For your car, we recommend getting an AAA membership.

Estimate a realistic time frame

You should only plan on driving up to 500 miles a day. If you’re driving 1,500 miles to your new home, give yourself at least three days to make the journey. For a trip closer to 2,500 miles, give yourself five days.

Learn the rules of the road for each state you’ll pass through

Every state has different laws for things like speed limits, driving while on the phone, and putting your kids in car seats. Avoid getting pulled over and fined by familiarizing yourself with the driving laws in every state you’ll go through.

Secure overnight parking for the moving truck

Call ahead to the hotels, Airbnbs, or campgrounds where you’ll be staying en route and ask if they have a space where you can park your moving truck overnight. Otherwise, you may find yourself unable to stop where you made a reservation.

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Moving with pets?

If you’re taking a furry or feathered friend on the open road with you, pick hotels and Airbnbs that allow pets inside. You should never leave your animals in your car or moving truck overnight. For more info on getting your fur baby to your new home, read our guide to moving with pets.

Pack meals and snacks beforehand

If you only eat at restaurants and drive-thrus during your long trip, you should expect to pay between $20 and $40 per person per day for food. Save yourself some time and money by keeping sandwiches, snacks, drinks, fruit, and other goodies in a cooler you can reach easily.

Stock up on entertainment

Before moving day, download an audiobook the whole family can enjoy, put together an epic road trip playlist, and give every passenger a media device with headphones so they can plug in for some personal time. Coloring books, picture books, and plain old storybooks are solid low-tech alternatives.

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Looking for good audiobooks?

Whether you’re looking for a thrilling murder mystery, a steamy romance novel, or something a little more family-friendly, you can find the perfect audiobook for your trip with these resources:

Libby gives you access to ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. And with Audible, the first month of your subscription is free.

Put everything you need within arm’s reach

Riding in a car for too long will make anyone achy and irritable. You can manage this by getting out and stretching at rest stops for 15 minutes every two hours, but it’s also essential to make time in the car as comfortable as possible. Bring plenty of blankets, pillows, sweaters, and even eye covers.

Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit and trash bags for wrappers, chip bags, and fruit rinds.

Plan your route around interesting stops

While it’s important to get to your destination quickly, building a little sightseeing into your journey is also a good idea. Here are a few suggestions for places to stop:

  • Museums
  • National parks
  • Flea markets
  • Historic monuments
  • Quirky shops
  • City parks

Sites like Roadtrippers can help you plan your route. After a few days on the road, you’ll be happy you took these little breaks.

Keep an eye on the truck's odometer

Most moving truck companies charge mileage rates for their trucks, so if you aren’t careful, you might get a bigger bill for sightseeing off course. To avoid this, plan to stop directly along your route or leave the truck at your hotel while you go sightseeing in the backup car.

Avoid rush hour in big cities

Traffic can really throw a wrench in an otherwise productive day of driving. It’s impossible to plan for all traffic, but you can miss the bulk of it by avoiding big cities during rush hour.

Schedule your driving time so that you don’t get caught in metropolitan areas between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. or 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. You can also use these times to make pit stops and get food.

Use paper maps in rural areas

If you’re driving through a deserted backcountry in the United States without data coverage, you could get lost if you’re relying on your phone’s Google Maps to show you the way. Play it safe by keeping a print map of your route in your glove box. That way, you’ll always know where you are and where to go, even if you lose cell service.

Invest in walkie-talkies

They might seem outdated, but walkie-talkies are a road trip essential if you’re driving through a rural area and you need to communicate between the moving truck and the backup car. With a walkie-talkie in each vehicle, you can still talk to each other if you have zero bars.

Be prepared to change plans

No matter how well you plan, you may still need to adjust your route or schedule because of construction, traffic, or a flat tire. Keep a little extra money in your budget for emergencies and unplanned hotel stays.

The takeaway

Whether you’re moving from New York to North Carolina, Kansas City to St. Louis, or any other big move, the journey will certainly be long (and sometimes tedious).These road trip tips will help ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible. Just think—before you know it, you’ll be out and about exploring all your new city has to offer!

Would you like to learn more about planning a moving road trip? Head to to learn how to choose the right moving truck size.

Moving road trip FAQ

Is it cheaper to drive or fly when moving?

Road tripping is typically the cheaper option when making a long-distance move. But if you can score an affordable flight, the price may be comparable (especially if gas prices are high on a long road trip from New York City to San Francisco!) If you do fly, you’ll need to pay to transport your car (if you have one) and pay a moving company to transport your belongings.

How often should you change drivers on a road trip?

It's wise to change drivers every two to three hours, whether you’re driving from the East Coast to West Coast, across New England, or moving from a city like San Diego to New Mexico.

How many hours a day should I road trip?

If you’re on a cross-country trip in North America, it’s best to drive no more than 500 miles a day. If you’re driving an average of 60 miles an hour, this will take you a little more than eight hours.

How do you split up a road trip while driving?

Savvy road trippers break up their drive by stopping every two to three hours (approximately every 200 miles). On a long trip, stops might include a gas station or bathroom break, lunch at a fast-food or local restaurant, or stopping to admire a nearby attraction (like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite!)

Recommended resources

Now that you know how to plan your moving road trip, check out these guides to prepare yourself for your move:

Joe Roberts
Written by
Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over four years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.