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Anyone else have to do a big cross country (or even cross ocean) move? I wanted to start a thread for people to post advice about moving, information about living in different regions, and whatever else might be relevant to this process.

Does anyone have any advice about the best way to tackle a cross-country move? Right now, I'm trying to figure out what the most efficient and cheap way to go about this would be. Any advice about moving pets would also be welcome as I have two middle-aged cats. I have previously moved up the east coast, but this trip will be almost three times a long in terms of mileage.

If anyone has any questions about moving to NY, NJ, or FL, please feel free to contact me! Additionally, if anyone is from Northern CA, I will probably have a lot of questions for you.
 

NeuroWise

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I have made two cross-country moves during my training (once to the South and then to the Midwest) and will make a third (albeit shorter) move in August for postdoc. It has been my experience that doing the move yourself (with a truck) is both cheaper and easier than hiring a moving company. I have found Penske rental trucks to be cheaper than other companies. Yes, driving a 16' to 26' truck can be intimidating if you don't have experience with that sort of thing but a little forethought about where you are going and where you will park each night will eliminate most of that issue. For example, most hotels will have large parking lots where you can park the truck and leave without having to use reverse, eliminating the need to learn how to back up a big vehicle using mirrors only. Just pick hotels on the outskirts of towns near the interstate. I have always been able to find free moving boxes on Craigslist. People move all the time and don't want to make trips to the recycling plant/dump, so they just give them away. It has also been my experience that paying a couple of people $50-$100 to help you load and unload the truck is huge. You may have limited time in your new place before the start of internship and this will save you a bunch of time, stress, and soreness.
 
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Congrats on matching for internship! I moved cross-country for grad school, then again for internship, then again for my current job. It sucks! I found that renting a moving truck and driving it with a friend or significant other was by far the cheapest option. I stayed at Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn during the trip - both accept pets. I recommend Penske over UHaul, because of better customer service and roadside assistance in case you get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Good luck!

If you are thinking about flying with pets, I highly recommend Alaska Air. They are highly experienced with transporting thousands of dogs every year for the Ididarod race, so they have their **** together (both for in-cabin and cargo pet travel).
 

calimich

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congrats on matching! Moving is certainly stressful, and imo, very exciting. I moved 3/4 across the country for grad school and then again for internship and prior to that I had moved to (and returned from) the southern hemisphere. All of those moves involved pets.

Re: the moves for school/internship -- we rented a medium large moving van and took ~4 days to make the drive. We were fortunate on both trips to have friends/family offer to make the trip with us, bringing an extra "support car." We picked overnight spots ahead of time and planned for the first day of driving to be the longest. We also chose to rent a trailer and haul our car rather than put mileage on it and need an extra driver. We moved two cats and a dog the first time, and three cats the second time. The cats traveled with us on the road (sneaking them into hotels was always an adventure) and we flew the dog (she was a 9yr old 100-lb Shephard mix who we didn't think would do well on that length of drive).

We did all the packing / unpacking ourselves and I second NeruoWise's opinion re: Penske. I'm also from Northern CA, feel free to PM me.
 

calimich

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I recommend Penske over UHaul, because of better customer service and roadside assistance in case you get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Very true...I wasn't sure whether to share this story as it was scary at the time...but...

One of the last days of the grad school move we were in an accident on the freeway in the middle of Iowa. It was a Sunday, we had a full moving van, 2 cats, and a crunched front end. (someone swerved to try and make an exit, slammed on their brakes, and we hit them from behind) Penske was outstanding. A rep met us promptly at the accident site, assessed the damage, arranged for towing, and for a new truck to be delivered. They gave us cash to get food while we waited for a new truck, and then, the Penske rep and his teenage son did most of the work to transfer our belongings from the damaged truck to the new one. When we returned the truck a few days later in a different state, the local rep knew what had happened, checked to see how we were doing, and we had no complications/financial implications whatsoever. Outstanding customer service and support.
 
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mypointlesspov
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Thanks for all the awesome suggestions and well wishes!

So the first plan was to rent a UHaul/Penske truck and have my dad and brother drive cross-country with it while my mother and I took my car with the cats. Then my parents realized that driving over 4-5 days would not be a great idea for them given that they're older and have some health problems. The next (and current?) plan is to fly to CA and have my car shipped as well as getting a UHaul Box or a POD to pack up my apartment. The big issues for me are:
  1. Transporting my cats. Airlines tend to only allow one pet per person in the cabin of a plane, so I am hoping that my brother will agree to me flying him to NJ (where I am) from FL (where my fam is) and then flying with me so he can take one of my cats. I am terrified of putting my pets into cargo because of all the horror stories I've read about illness, injury, lost pets, and death (though any positive experiences with this option are welcome!).
  2. Cost. I am not a wealthy woman. I priced out the smallest UHaul and it's like $3,475. Shipping a car is also expensive (~$1,500) in addition to flights and having my stuff moved. My parents are willing to help me, as far as I know, but this whole process is going to be rather expensive.
 
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If the cost to ship (or store) is greater than the replacement costs on the other end (e.g., outfitting your room or small apartment from IKEA), then have a tag sale or sell it on craiglist (or even donate to Goodwill) and buy some cheap new stuff in your new location. Spending thousands to ship a couch and mattress that are worth hundreds does not make sense. Your stuff is probably not that good. Put a few things in your car, drive cross country, and use the money you saved on flights and shipping to get new stuff. Check with the exiting internship class regarding purchasing any of their old furniture, etc. I remember helping move some of my classmates junk into their new apartment, carrying their crappy coffee table past less crappy coffee tables that were left on the curb by the people moving out. Did you really need to haul that mass produced pressboard stuff from CA to MA? Trust me- if you are under 30 chances are your stuff is not that nice.
 
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mypointlesspov
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If the cost to ship (or store) is greater than the replacement costs on the other end (e.g., outfitting your room or small apartment from IKEA), then have a tag sale or sell it on craiglist (or even donate to Goodwill) and buy some cheap new stuff in your new location. Spending thousands to ship a couch and mattress that are worth hundreds does not make sense. Your stuff is probably not that good. Put a few things in your car, drive cross country, and use the money you saved on flights and shipping to get new stuff. Check with the exiting internship class regarding purchasing any of their old furniture, etc. I remember helping move some of my classmates junk into their new apartment, carrying their crappy coffee table past less crappy coffee tables that were left on the curb by the people moving out. Did you really need to haul that mass produced pressboard stuff from CA to MA? Trust me- if you are under 30 chances are your stuff is not that nice.
Yeah I'm definitely not bringing any furniture. The only thing I might consider is taking apart my bedframe (because it's a good quality piece of furniture) and packing it into one of the UBoxes I mentioned earlier if it fits on top of everything else. I priced it out and one of those boxes would be about $1,100 including delivery, so it's not terribly expensive. I'm not opposed to packing my car and driving, but I only have a small sedan and my two cats take up 2/3rds of the backseat alone. Unfortunately my car is too small to even tow a trailer, so that option is out as well.

The main issue is that my parents want to come (read: are coming no matter what I say). They're currently mad at me because they think I "chose" to get this position in California to make their lives difficult or something.
 
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... They're currently mad at me because they think I "chose" to get this position in California to make their lives difficult or something.
That surely was a prime motivating factor, right? Enjoy your time out there. I did some work in far Northern CA a few years ago (Ukiah/Eureka/Crescent City) and it was just amazing landscape.
 
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foreverbull

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Thanks for all the awesome suggestions and well wishes!

So the first plan was to rent a UHaul/Penske truck and have my dad and brother drive cross-country with it while my mother and I took my car with the cats. Then my parents realized that driving over 4-5 days would not be a great idea for them given that they're older and have some health problems. The next (and current?) plan is to fly to CA and have my car shipped as well as getting a UHaul Box or a POD to pack up my apartment. The big issues for me are:
  1. Transporting my cats. Airlines tend to only allow one pet per person in the cabin of a plane, so I am hoping that my brother will agree to me flying him to NJ (where I am) from FL (where my fam is) and then flying with me so he can take one of my cats. I am terrified of putting my pets into cargo because of all the horror stories I've read about illness, injury, lost pets, and death (though any positive experiences with this option are welcome!).
  2. Cost. I am not a wealthy woman. I priced out the smallest UHaul and it's like $3,475. Shipping a car is also expensive (~$1,500) in addition to flights and having my stuff moved. My parents are willing to help me, as far as I know, but this whole process is going to be rather expensive.
Pods were much more expensive for me than a UHaul. From Midwest to the Mountain region, it was somewhere between $1000-1400 with an add-on to tow my car via the smallest UHaul truck. I sold all furniture except for my bed and a chair for the trip. If I'd done the Pod option, it would have been well over $2,000, so it wasn't even close to go with any option but UHaul for me. You're traveling much farther, so it'll definitely be a much higher cost, but I've always used UHaul to move because they're usually the cheapest way to go (I checked Pods, other companies, and even renting a truck/van, but all were pricier). It's up to you if you want to try the fly & ship car & ship things route, but price it all out before you decide!

I knew someone who hired a local company in NY to drive her things from NY to the Midwest and she got completely scammed and didn't get her things in a timely manner. Basically her things were held hostage until she coughed up more money. I'm not sure what company this was, but make sure you're "Yelping" these companies if you rely on others to carry your things for you.

I would encourage you to travel with a buddy whether you drive or fly; it just makes the process easier, so whether that's your brother or a friend, two is better than one.

Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions about NorCal!
 
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Having your car shipped sounds like a considerable expense - are you very attached to your particular car? It's totally valid if you are, but if you are not - consider selling your car and buying a new car at the new location (perhaps even throw in the money that you were going to use on the car shipment towards your new car). I did that, and drove a Penske truck around for a couple of days while I shopped for a car.

Also many airlines restrict pets per seat, not per person. So it could be cheaper for you to buy 2 1-way tickets for yourself, than to fly your brother back and forth. Also, some airlines have relatively cheap checked bag policies - $25/checked bag for 50 lb bags (up to 10 for Virgin America!?). So, you and your brother can have a ton of checked stuff and you load in and out of a rented truck at the airport?
 
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MamaPhD

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Driving yourself is the most cost effective option, even if you hire help to load and unload your moving truck. I agree with the suggestions to go with Penske. I've made a couple of cross-country moves, and their vehicles and service are superior to U-Haul.

I only have a small sedan and my two cats take up 2/3rds of the backseat alone. Unfortunately my car is too small to even tow a trailer, so that option is out as well.
Is selling the car a viable option?
 
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I’m moving about ten hours away, and will not be taking most of my furniture. I don’t know how unique my situation is, but I own a home and will Airbnb it to keep up with mortgage expenses while renting in internship town. So it needs to stay furnished anyways. If at some point during the year it looks like a permanent move to new state is likely, we’ll reassess.

I plan to drive, probably a small uhaul and/or trailer on my vehicle. We did a within-city pod move once and the $$$ was not worth the convenience IMO. I’ll buy some flatpack furniture (ikea, wayfair, Target) for the year and sell it on Craigslist at the end. I completely agree that it is not worth spending thousands to move hundreds in furniture. I’ll be taking clothes and a few household items that are expensive to replace but relatively small. (Dishes, tv, bedding). Will buy a mattress in the new town because those are a bitch to move and so many companies are making affordable, nice mattresses these days that show up at your door. (Leesa, purple, etc). Wayfair has platform beds for these around $100.

I have a toddler so making sure she has care while we move in/out of places is a priority. Luckily we have support from friends/family on both ends of the move. We will have to decide about taking her crib and glider, those are probably the biggest things we would consider moving.
 
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The main issue is that my parents want to come (read: are coming no matter what I say). They're currently mad at me because they think I "chose" to get this position in California to make their lives difficult or something.
My in-laws have a similiar lack of understanding of the process which has been endlessly frustrating to me.

Do you feel comfortable driving alone? Could you sell the car or trade it in for something a little larger? That would allow you to tow a small trailer and keep the kitties close.
 
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One last idea, some airlines allow multiple animals in the same carrier. Is that an option for yours? I haven’t actually heard that there’s a one pet per person limit on pet flights, but I have never traveled with a pet.
 

WisNeuro

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If you don't need a moving truck, you could always rent a crossover and drive that and have a friend drive your vehicle. Depending on stamina and caffeine tolerance, you can swing it with one hotel night.
 
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…my two cats take up 2/3rds of the backseat alone.
When I moved for internship I drove the moving van with my two cats in carriers on the seat next to me. It was nonstop howling and moaning, and by the end of it I wanted to poke out my eardrums and throw them both into a river. It was only a 90 minute drive. Good luck to you. New cats are free, by the way, and they’ll have the same personality as the old ones;)
 

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Has anyone had any experience with sedating cats for travel? I'm moving about a 7 hour drive for internship, but my cat HATES his carrier and I don't think he could handle that long of a drive. My partner and I are thinking that it might make more sense for one of us to fly with him, though that would still involve him being in his carrier for several hours. I've heard that sedation is possible but not sure about the specifics.
 
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psydstudent2020

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What is the cheapest option for moving a car (I don’t want to put more miles on it) and for moving stuff in general?
 
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Yeah I'm definitely not bringing any furniture. The only thing I might consider is taking apart my bedframe (because it's a good quality piece of furniture) and packing it into one of the UBoxes I mentioned earlier if it fits on top of everything else. I priced it out and one of those boxes would be about $1,100 including delivery, so it's not terribly expensive. I'm not opposed to packing my car and driving, but I only have a small sedan and my two cats take up 2/3rds of the backseat alone. Unfortunately my car is too small to even tow a trailer, so that option is out as well.

The main issue is that my parents want to come (read: are coming no matter what I say). They're currently mad at me because they think I "chose" to get this position in California to make their lives difficult or something.
That’s sweet your parents are coming along. It might be a pain but you’ll welcome the emotional support and home cooked meals during the year.
 
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Pods were much more expensive for me than a UHaul. From Midwest to the Mountain region, it was somewhere between $1000-1400 with an add-on to tow my car via the smallest UHaul truck. I sold all furniture except for my bed and a chair for the trip. If I'd done the Pod option, it would have been well over $2,000, so it wasn't even close to go with any option but UHaul for me. You're traveling much farther, so it'll definitely be a much higher cost, but I've always used UHaul to move because they're usually the cheapest way to go (I checked Pods, other companies, and even renting a truck/van, but all were pricier). It's up to you if you want to try the fly & ship car & ship things route, but price it all out before you decide!

I knew someone who hired a local company in NY to drive her things from NY to the Midwest and she got completely scammed and didn't get her things in a timely manner. Basically her things were held hostage until she coughed up more money. I'm not sure what company this was, but make sure you're "Yelping" these companies if you rely on others to carry your things for you.

I would encourage you to travel with a buddy whether you drive or fly; it just makes the process easier, so whether that's your brother or a friend, two is better than one.

Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions about NorCal!
I agree if you drive take along someone. If you fly you should be fine going alone unless another person is needed to supersede the pet allowance.
 
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I’m moving to the East Coast. Planning on using a pod for shipping and storage. I might also get a storage place for my car since I’ll be taking the Metro to work during the week and won’t have a garage, only surface parking. Excited and a tiny bit sad because I love my current apartment BUT on to bigger and better things!
 
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When I moved for internship I drove the moving van with my two cats in carriers on the seat next to me. It was nonstop howling and moaning, and by the end of it I wanted to poke out my eardrums and throw them both into a river. It was only a 90 minute drive. Good luck to you. New cats are free, by the way, and they’ll have the same personality as the old ones;)
I know meant that comment in jest. Me and dog are a package deal!!!
 

AcronymAllergy

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What is the cheapest option for moving a car (I don’t want to put more miles on it) and for moving stuff in general?
The absolute cheapest way I've found to move is to rent a truck and a car trailer, and do it all yourself (which may or may not be an option for everyone). Depending on the length of the drive, the rental fees for my longer moves (anywhere from 8-12 hours driving) were somewhere around $700, I believe. You'll want to budget for gas as well, of course; moving trucks aren't particularly fuel-efficient.

That's what I did for all but one of my moves (i.e., grad school, fellowship, and employment). When I moved for internship, I sold nearly all my furniture and packed what was left into a cargo van, which I then moved to a storage unit in the city of my internship until I found an apartment a few weeks later. I rented furniture for the year, although buying a cheap, minimalist set of everything would've been cheaper.
 

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What is the cheapest option for moving a car (I don’t want to put more miles on it) and for moving stuff in general?
Depending on where you are moving from, Amtrak has a car transport train from Washington DC to somewhere in Florida. May be worth packing the car up to the brim and doing that.
 
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mypointlesspov
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That’s sweet your parents are coming along. It might be a pain but you’ll welcome the emotional support and home cooked meals during the year.
They're not moving with me, just coming along for the trip. I think my dad's head would explode if he moved to California haha.

Depending on where you are moving from, Amtrak has a car transport train from Washington DC to somewhere in Florida. May be worth packing the car up to the brim and doing that.
The autotrain! It goes from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. I took it when my family and I moved from NY to FL back in the day. Sanford is about 2 hours southwest of Jacksonville (and about an hour north of Disney!)

Having your car shipped sounds like a considerable expense - are you very attached to your particular car? It's totally valid if you are, but if you are not - consider selling your car and buying a new car at the new location (perhaps even throw in the money that you were going to use on the car shipment towards your new car). I did that, and drove a Penske truck around for a couple of days while I shopped for a car.

Also many airlines restrict pets per seat, not per person. So it could be cheaper for you to buy 2 1-way tickets for yourself, than to fly your brother back and forth. Also, some airlines have relatively cheap checked bag policies - $25/checked bag for 50 lb bags (up to 10 for Virgin America!?). So, you and your brother can have a ton of checked stuff and you load in and out of a rented truck at the airport?
I was considering this too. Does anyone know which airlines allow someone to buy the seat next to them for pet transport purposes? From what I've read, not all of them allow this.


Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!
 

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I recommend Penske over UHaul, because of better customer service and roadside assistance in case you get stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
I will pile on to the avoid UHaul if possible message. The one time I used them I was charged a late fee because I was waiting in line (on site!) to turn in my vehicle and handed the keys in minutes later than my estimate. So basically I was charged extra money because of their inefficiency.
 
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They're not moving with me, just coming along for the trip. I think my dad's head would explode if he moved to California haha.



The autotrain! It goes from Lorton, VA to Sanford, FL. I took it when my family and I moved from NY to FL back in the day. Sanford is about 2 hours southwest of Jacksonville (and about an hour north of Disney!)



I was considering this too. Does anyone know which airlines allow someone to buy the seat next to them for pet transport purposes? From what I've read, not all of them allow this.


Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!
Oh ok. Sounds like you have great family support!!!
 
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Has anyone had any experience with sedating cats for travel? I'm moving about a 7 hour drive for internship, but my cat HATES his carrier and I don't think he could handle that long of a drive. My partner and I are thinking that it might make more sense for one of us to fly with him, though that would still involve him being in his carrier for several hours. I've heard that sedation is possible but not sure about the specifics.
Gabapentin - will calm them down but not knock them out. 10/10 would recommend.
 
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I’ve done two cross country moves with cats and I’ve had the best luck with using the larger metal dog crates big enough for a bed and a small litter box (). Then you don’t have to stop and take them out, etc.
 
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I've moved across country twice - once for grad school and once for internship. Both times I did an I pack-They move approach. Then my family just drove the one car and made a vacation out of it. For the first move I used Broadway Express and the second I used ABF U-pack. Both were more expensive than renting a truck and car trailer, but honestly, not by as much as I thought it would be (including AAA discounts on Penske etc.) Also, although I don't mind driving, I'm not a fan of driving large boxes down windy freeways at 70mph, which informed my decision.

Broadway Express brings a very long, very tall moving truck, of which you rent out a number of feet. You have 4 hours to load and 4 hours to unload. ABF U-pack drops off a much smaller trailer, which actually mostly fit in a single parking spot within my new apartment complex. Again you rent out a number of feet in the trailer, but you get more time to load unload (up to a few days I think). One other option I tried, but didn't have success is uship.com. You can post your move online and small/medium sized moving companies can bid on it. The bids I got on there were too high. Pods/Packrat/Uhaul containers were always too expensive for me.
 

psyche27

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I’ve done two cross country moves with cats and I’ve had the best luck with using the larger metal dog crates big enough for a bed and a small litter box (). Then you don’t have to stop and take them out, etc.
This is what we do as well (also for two cross country moves and a handful of in state moves). I put a hammock in the crate so that they had options for where to hang out. It doesn’t completely eliminate the howling but it decreases it and they seem to appreciate being together rather than in separate cages/carriers.
 
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I've done a number of cross-country moves with pets for grad school, internship, and work, including to Alaska from the lower 48. I agree that usually driving a moving van/truck yourself is the most economical option. Another company to look into is U-Pack. You can essentially rent out part of a semi-truck and you get a couple days to pack it at your house. I found it to be much cheaper than pods and it was far less stressful driving our own cars with our pets and having someone else drive our belongings than driving a moving van while towing a car thousands of miles.
 
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I'm moving nearly 5000 miles away from home...I haven't really begun to plan yet as it hasn't even really fully set in.
 

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I also owned a home and used Cort for furniture rental.
I’m moving about ten hours away, and will not be taking most of my furniture. I don’t know how unique my situation is, but I own a home and will Airbnb it to keep up with mortgage expenses while renting in internship town. So it needs to stay furnished anyways. If at some point during the year it looks like a permanent move to new state is likely, we’ll reassess.

I plan to drive, probably a small uhaul and/or trailer on my vehicle. We did a within-city pod move once and the $$$ was not worth the convenience IMO. I’ll buy some flatpack furniture (ikea, wayfair, Target) for the year and sell it on Craigslist at the end. I completely agree that it is not worth spending thousands to move hundreds in furniture. I’ll be taking clothes and a few household items that are expensive to replace but relatively small. (Dishes, tv, bedding). Will buy a mattress in the new town because those are a bitch to move and so many companies are making affordable, nice mattresses these days that show up at your door. (Leesa, purple, etc). Wayfair has platform beds for these around $100.

I have a toddler so making sure she has care while we move in/out of places is a priority. Luckily we have support from friends/family on both ends of the move. We will have to decide about taking her crib and glider, those are probably the biggest things we would consider moving.
 

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I second all the recommendations for Penske - that's what I did both times for major moves to grad school and again to internship. Sign up for AAA - they give a decent Penske discount that will more than offset the cost of the AAA plan for a year, and then you get an added bonus of having AAA. Also check to see which hotels/motels will give you that AAA discount. It adds up!
 
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Psychology Student
Has anyone had any experience with sedating cats for travel? I'm moving about a 7 hour drive for internship, but my cat HATES his carrier and I don't think he could handle that long of a drive. My partner and I are thinking that it might make more sense for one of us to fly with him, though that would still involve him being in his carrier for several hours. I've heard that sedation is possible but not sure about the specifics.
I drove about 1,800 miles with my cat when I was moving to start grad school and didn't sedate him, and it was AWFUL. He was absolutely miserable, and he howled and cried the whole trip while trying to claw his way out of the cloth carrier. He wouldn't eat, he wouldn't drink, and he wouldn't use the litter box we'd set up (and instead just howled until he went wherever he was sitting or standing). He also had a really hard time adjusting when we got to our new place, and walked around the apartment howling for days. Then, when I moved about 1000 miles from grad school to internship, I got sedating medication from the vet, and it was a totally different experience. He was relaxed for the car rides and adjusted really well when we finally got to our new place (no walking around and howling). For us, it was definitely the right choice. Talk to your vet, and they can prescribe an appropriate dose for the weight of your cat. I'd imagine that a 7 hour drive with sedating meds is very doable! Best of luck with your move.
 
Dec 6, 2018
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The last time I moved cross country I ended up packing up all of my belongings and shipping them via the US postal service and it was a couple hundred dollars for everything. It was about six large boxes of all my clothes, supplies, and sentimental ****. My biggest sacrifice was leaving behind a big chunk of my books I'd accumulated but I haven't missed themt really. So that's an option to consider for folks who aren't attached to any specific pieces of furniture.
I have cats now so I can't do that this time, but I absolutely would have otherwise.
 
Nov 13, 2018
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Has anyone had any experience with sedating cats for travel? I'm moving about a 7 hour drive for internship, but my cat HATES his carrier and I don't think he could handle that long of a drive. My partner and I are thinking that it might make more sense for one of us to fly with him, though that would still involve him being in his carrier for several hours. I've heard that sedation is possible but not sure about the specifics.
When I moved from Northern CA to go to grad school in Kentucky, I drugged my cat for five days straight lol. The vet can give you a medication. I gave it to him in the morning and he would sleep all day in his carrier, and then let him out in the hotel room at night to not be drugged for awhile lol. worked out just fine for him :) going to do the same when I move to Cleveland for internship!