Moving Out-of-State: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known 20 Years Ago


Moving to a new house or apartment is always an adventure. Due to my approach to life, I have moved at least a dozen times. Some of my moves have covered only short distances across town. But I have also moved out-of-state. Looking back on all of those moves, there are plenty of things I wish I had known when I made my first major move 20 years ago.

Prior to this particular move, I had local moving down to a science. I had done it enough times to know exactly what was required. But the greatest distance I had moved to that point was about 10 miles. Suddenly, I was about to embark on a move of more than 1,000 miles. I wasn’t prepared.

Here are some things I know now; things I wish I had known back then:

1. Tie-Downs Aren’t Just for Pickup Trucks

I knew about truck tie-down straps prior to this move. I had seen other people use them, like a friend who used to secure a dirt bike in the back of his pickup truck with tie-down straps. But I was renting a box truck for my move. I figured I did not need tie-downs. I was wrong.

Truck tie-down straps, like the ones found on, are not just for pickup trucks and open trailers. They are incredibly useful even in a box truck. A few strategically placed straps would have saved a very expensive china cabinet, the loss of which I am still trying to live down.

2. Moving Blankets Aren’t an Extra

Along the same lines as tie-down straps are moving blankets. The end of my journey revealed that moving blankets aren’t extras. They are necessities. Moving blankets protect furniture from damage caused by boxes and other items. They are simple to deploy but mighty to save. Too bad I learned my lesson the hard way.

3. Newspaper Doesn’t Protect Dishes

I used newspaper to wrap all my dishes during previous moves. Why? Because that’s what we did back in the day. I had no other reason for doing so. Unfortunately, my first major move taught me that newspaper doesn’t really protect dishes. I lost a few plates and quite a few glasses during that trip. But hey, at least the newspaper contained the mess.

4. Road Vibration Is Serious Stuff

I can say with all honesty that I drove that box truck 1200 miles as carefully as possible. I accelerated slowly. I took turns as gently as I could. I went easy on the brakes and gas petal. And yet, some of my stuff was still damaged. When I mentioned it to the guy at the truck rental depot, he explained to me what happened: it was road vibration. That’s right. The natural vibrations of over-the-road travel caused damage to some of my poorly packed belongings.

5. Packing Order Matters

Perhaps the most painful lesson I learned from that first major move is that packing order matters. It didn’t occur to me until after the fact that the things I wanted first access to should have been packed on the truck first. Why? Because they would come off the truck last. Failing to understand that left me digging around for some key things I really needed when we finally arrived at the new place.

I have moved many more times since that first major trip. I have even had a second out-of-state move. Fortunately, things went smoother with each subsequent move. Still, I wish I had known then what I know now.