How to Pack a Car for Moving Across the Country?

Hiring long-distance movers is the best way to ensure your belongings arrive at another home safely and damage-free. However, sometimes getting a relocation company is not possible (or their costs need to be reduced). That is when many begin to wonder how to pack a car for moving and is it even possible when relocation cross-country. It most certainly is – all you have to do is study our tips, memorize them and apply them when the time comes.

Items packed in a car before cross-country moving overlay
May 24, 2022 Posted in How-to

Before you start with packing, ensure the vehicle is safe for driving and cleared of all unnecessary items. Then, consider how much space your car has and maximize it. As for the supplies, avoid using cardboard – utilize different types of bags as storage since they are easier to fit. Place heavy stuff on the bottom, keep goods you use accessible, and don’t forget to declutter your beforehand. To avoid the obstructed view while driving, consider getting additional storage, such as an overhead carrier.

When Is It Necessary to Learn How to Pack a Car for Moving to Another State?

Whether you want to find the cheapest way to move out of state or have a last-minute move that needs to be organized fast, knowing how to transport your belongings in an auto problem-free can be a life-saver.

Still, this kind of knowledge can be helpful even when you decide to hire a long-distance moving company. Note that most relocation companies determine their prices based on your household goods, their weight, or their size. Therefore, if you want to reduce the costs of hiring cross-country movers, learning how to transport a number of your belongings in a vehicle can save you a buck or two.

Check the Vehicle’s Condition Before You Start to Pack

Cross-country moving would be hard on your car even without all the additional baggage, so you must be sure it can withstand the road. It’s one of the common things people forget when relocating, but simultaneously, one that can have severe consequences. Therefore, remember to schedule an appointment and service the vehicle before going on with other relocation tasks.

It’s always better to let a professional assess the vehicle’s condition. Not only will their expert eyes be able to recognize even the smallest issues, but they will be able to fix them immediately and get your car into top shape before you hit the road.

This car preparation part of the move is important if you want to utilize your car but essential if you plan to move in winter or during a rainy season. At the same time, if your car is not safe enough for a long-distance trip, be sure you get the movers’ help – for the well-being of both you and your belongings.

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Before Packing, Decide Which Items You’ll Bring

Naturally, learning how to pack a small car for moving won’t be the same compared to figuring out how to prepare larger models such as vans and trucks. That being said, note that even the largest of vehicles won’t be able to fit most of your household goods, which is why purging should be a part of your relocating across the country checklist.

How to Declutter Your Stuff?

Decluttering should start with forming a relocation inventory, to get a good overview of all of the things in your possession – it will provide you with the knowledge about which items you must leave behind. Unfortunately, the limited space makes relocating furniture, appliances, and other large and bulky objects difficult, especially if they can’t be disassembled.

As opposed to a local move, with a cross-country one, you usually can’t make several trips between your old and new home. Therefore, take a look at your inventory list and decide what to get rid of and what to keep – with the car’s tight space on your mind constantly.

When considering relocation essentials, don’t forget about packing electronics and other important things:

  • Documents,
  • Clothes,
  • Medication,
  • Toiletries,
  • Financially and sentimentally valuable belongings, like jewelry, family heirlooms, albums, and so on.

These are all the items you’ll bring with you even when getting long-distance moving services and hiring professionals for a packing service. All other belongings may or may not be transported with you.

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Stop Buying Things for Your Future Home

Simultaneously, you must retain from adding any more belongings to your inventory. It doesn’t mean you can’t start creating a new apartment shopping list – just make sure you leave the purchasing part after the move.

Moreover, instead of buying, you should consider selling – if you’re planning to move just with a car, there will be plenty of belongings you must leave behind. Consider organizing a garage sale or posting the unwanted objects on some (or several) online marketplaces. You can also choose to give or donate unwanted stuff to The Salvation Army or some other charity organization.

Woman preparing a donation box before long-distance moving
Donating will help the ones in need, but release you from the unnecessary clutter, as well

How Many Boxes Can Fit in a Car or Why You Should Use Vacuum Bags

When thinking about packing, the thing that almost always comes to people’s minds is cardboard. However, boxes are sometimes too bulky for a car – especially when you think about large ones. So, what are the best-sized boxes for transporting your belongings in a car? Those would be the small ones because they are easier to maneuver. Therefore, whenever boxes are required, make sure you don’t utilize bigger ones, and you’ll be able to fit several of them.

How do I fit everything in my car – it’s a question many who are interested in this kind of relocation ask. Whenever you can, avoid using cardboard. These boxes are made from a very solid material that is not flexible enough to adapt to all the bulges and curves inside a vehicle. On the other hand, vacuum bags can be a good alternative to cardboard, especially for soft materials like clothes, beddings, linens, and towels. Not only will these bags fit better inside of a car’s interior, but they will also give you a ton of space.

Have you ever used a vacuum bag before? If so, you’ll be familiar with the amount of space you’ll be able to save. If not, take a look at the video below – you’ll be surprised:

Different-type Bags Are Also a Suitable Solution When Packing an Auto

Another excellent choice for limited-space interiors is bags – shopping, duffle, or even garbage bags can be perfect storage for non-breakable items. Reserve sturdier materials for heavier belongings, like books or toys), but don’t hesitate to place lighter ones in a material such as plastic – just ensure you do not overfill them.

A pile of differently colored garbage bags that can be used for long-distance moving
Garbage bags will not only save you a lot of room but are simultaneously a very cost-effective solution

What Is the Most Efficient Way to Pack a Car?

Packing all the goods inside of a car can be a complicated task, especially if you are not relocating to another city alone. However, with the following relocation hacks, you shouldn’t have any significant difficulties:

Clear the interior

Get rid of all the unnecessary items you previously held in your car. Cleaning supplies, rugs, and objects alike are always nice to have, but you can do without them in order to get more room. If you have enough time, make sure the interior is clean as well.

Maximize the space

Lay down the seats to secure more room in the vehicle, use the room under the seats, or even space inside of the spare tire. Just ensure that nothing is placed below the driver’s seat. Additionally, take apart larger belongings like desks and chairs – separate parts are much easier and more practical to pack than the whole item.

Put heavier belongings on the bottom

What should be packed first when moving? Rugs, books, appliances, and furniture will be some of the heaviest items to relocate, so make sure they are not squishing and breaking the rest.

Add the things you use the most last

You need fast access to the stuff you use the most, so be sure you can reach them easily during the trip. Change of clothes, essential toiletries, or chargers should be packed last.

Ensure you have a clear view

In order to have a safe trip, a car must not be filled to the brim. How do you park a car when you can’t see a thing? It’s even more complicated with driving! The obstructed view is a serious safety hazard – you can’t drive if you can’t see through windows or check mirrors. Therefore resist the urge to overfill the car – it’s always better to rent a storage unit for the object that can’t fit.

Use an overhead carrier as additional storage

Getting additional storage is very helpful – just make sure it’s waterproof and sturdy enough. You can also consider renting a trailer, as long as you have an engine that can handle it (and the necessary equipment to hitch it).

How Do I Pack as Much as Possible in a Car Quickly? Get Lifting Assistance

A DIY move doesn’t mean you need to do everything by yourself. Relocating to a new state implies many challenging and daunting relocation tasks, so don’t hesitate to ask loved ones for a helping hand. After all, an extra set of hands will not only help you with packing quickly for the move, but you’ll also avoid physical injuries frequently caused by all the heavy lifting. Therefore, when the time comes, ask your friends and family for small assistance and think about all the ways to repay them for this favor.

What Is the Best Way to Move a Car?

Even though a move by car is the most affordable option for relocating to a new home, it’s not always the best one. Lengthy drives are not safe even with only you inside a car, but a pile of household goods is not making this task any easier.

So, what’s the solution? Think about getting professional auto transport. It will come with a certain additional cost, but you shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to safety. After all, some reliable relocation companies can even offer you a discount if you opt to combine their services – you won’t need to waste a fortune on car shipping separately.

Man looking under the car's hood during long-distance moving
Many things can go wrong during the cross-country road trip - avoid them by hiring professionals

If Learning How to Best Pack a Car for Moving Seems to Hard, Consider Getting Professional Help

How do you move with a compact car, or any other type of vehicle, for that matter? As you can see, it’s not a simple task. Therefore, if you wish to facilitate the process and secure a stress-free move, google the best long-distance movers near me and start your search. Find a trustworthy but reasonably affordable relocation team and make this already challenging time of your life a little bit easier.

Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.



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