This is the thought process I went through when planning for my move from Cleveland, OH to Seattle, WA. I had plenty of time to think about moving. I just needed to decide when was the right time for me. For more details on my move visit: Moving Out West – Road Trip.

Here are the tips I have if you are ever trying to plan for a big move:

Save money – I had roughly a year to save money until I actually bucked up and moved, which helped immensely. It is best to avoid a fresh start in a new city with a bunch of debt and stress.

Talk to your HR department – I trusted my HR representative to not share my plans on leaving. Make sure you are not negative on your travel or health benefits. You do not want to find any hidden expenses that may hit after you leave!

Create a budget spreadsheet – I create spreadsheets for everything.

  • Rental Truck/Trailer – continue to look for deals to find the cheapest rates.
    • Also look into shipping your belongs via pods or train and flying out.
  • Gas – (tentative mileage * estimated gas price * miles per gallon of the rental/vehicle)
  • Hotel/Accommodations – It depends on your taste. We stayed at a bunch of cheaper hotels. I budgeted $100 per night.
  • Food – I budgeted roughly $20 per meal to be on the safe side. We also had a cooler with hummus, hard boiled eggs, and other snack food to minimize eating out.
  • Attractions – National Park fees (consider getting an annual pass if you are stopping at a few).

Plan your tentative route – I used Google Maps to help figure out driving distance per day. If there was not much to see, then we drove longer. We woke up early and usually only drove in the daylight. Also, think about the time of year and any elevation gains you may climb. This could cause delays in your trip.

Purge – If you do not constantly spring clean your belongings, make sure you take time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year or two. You don’t want to move things you will never touch. DONATE!

Consider selling your car – I found a buyer who was willing to wait until my move date. It worked out perfectly and was one less thing I had to move/drive.

Organize – I tried to pack boxes based on what room they would be unpacked in once I unpacked. This might have been more thinking than necessary, but it made the unpacking experience more efficient.

Have a Loading Party – This really helps moving go faster if you have people relaying your belongings to one person packing the truck. I had tons of engineers helping me, which was amazingly efficient. Offer beer and pizza and send the leftovers home with your helpers.

Book hotels on the road – Technology makes it easy to find hotels when you do not feel like driving anymore. It also keeps you flexible in case you come across any “road blocks” along the way. Also, avoid staying in large cities to save on room rates.