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The Ultimate Guide to Moving Cross Country with Children

Moving Cross Country With Kids

Do you remember the time when you could pack a bag and take a road trip, or even just decide to move away and start fresh, without a second thought? Yeah, those days are long gone! Now a major move means a lot of stress, sleepless nights and careful planning. Having kids is wonderful, but moving them across the country will likely not make it to your list of top 10 favorite moments. It does not have to be a catastrophe, though. Simply put as much thought into planning your move as you do when comparing your list of best moving companies! (Hint – Comparing moving companies through Unpakt is easy as 1-2-3). Here are some great tips for moving with children to help you move cross-country with your family without pulling your remaining hair out:

Prepare Children for Moving

The first question you need to ask yourself is how to prepare children for a move on an emotional level. Moving is a major life change and as such, it can be ridden with anxiety and insecurity. Talk to your kids in a candid, age-appropriate manner. Tell them about the reasons you are relocating and explain in detail what is going to happen and how the moving process will unfold. Younger children will not necessarily be able to comprehend what moving means but knowing what lies ahead will help them feel less anxious about it. One clever mom suggests hosting a goodbye party to allow the children to say goodbye to their most cherished friends and neighbors, which is a wonderful way to turn an emotional hurdle into a joyful celebration. Check out her blog post for some more bright ideas.

Pack, Unpack, and Repack

When it comes to the bags and boxes of essentials that you need in the car, there really needs to be a lot of thought into packing these. These are your survival bags! Not only do they have the clothes and toiletries that you will need for any overnight stops and for the first day at the new house, they will also include the things that will keep everyone sane. You can pack all the toys and stuffed animals you want, but if you don’t pack today’s favorite doll with the pink bow in her hair, you are going to need some earplugs!

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack these boxes. Start putting them together several days ahead of time, because you are going to think of things as you go. The day before, pull everything out for one last glance and pack it all up again. Ask your kids if they are still happy with the toy selection. Toys they wanted to take a few days ago may no longer be sufficient.

Plan Your Route

You seriously need to take the time to get acquainted with your route. Know where the rest areas are and the places you can make emergency bathroom stops at too. Book your hotels! If you plan on just stopping in a city to find a vacant hotel when you are ready to be done driving for a day, then you are just asking for disaster. In this minute, everyone will need to go the bathroom, and they will all be hungry, crabby, tired and angry.

Also, don’t ask if anyone has to make a bathroom stop. When you come to one of your planned rest areas along the way, just stop. Otherwise, you know you will get 5 miles away and someone will have to go.


Long drives are the stuff of parents’ nightmares. The endless bickering, nagging, fighting and sometimes full-blown brawling that seems to be an inseparable part of family car trips can drive any parent insane, even if they didn’t spend the last few weeks packing and organizing before a move. But why do kids become so insufferable the moment you fasten their seatbelts? The reason is simple- boredom and the solutions are simple- a kid’s travel pack, aka the Family Road-Trip Survival Kit. Take a big bag and fill it with things your kids can enjoy in the car, like snacks and games. Magnetic games are perfect for long drives, as well as coloring and activity books. Some games, like I Spy and 21 Questions don’t even need to fit into the bag. And don’t forget to bring your favorite music, or use this killer playlist we prepared especially for a long distance drive.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Being prepared for emergencies does not mean simply having a first aid kit in the car. You need to have medical records and insurance cards handy. It is a good idea to have emergency contact numbers (including your own cellphone) printed on a piece of paper and safety pinned to your kids or put in their pockets. Every parent who has ever had a child wander off in a split second never thought it would happen to them. Have a plan!

Be Flexible

You are fooling yourself if you think you are going to be able to follow a strict schedule moving cross-country with kids. Give yourself sufficient time to arrive, and don’t plan on your movers being on time just because you are. Even the best moving companies can’t control the traffic or unexpected delays. Make sure you have extra clothes and whatever else you need to get through an extra day, just in case.

Settling In

One great piece of advice is to start by unpacking your children’s rooms. Set up their bedrooms and the playroom (if you have one) so they can sleep in their familiar beds and play with their toys. The next room on your list should be the kitchen so you can whip them up a favorite treat and make yourself a well-deserved cup of coffee. Go out for a stroll around your new neighborhood, find nice parks and playgrounds and start making new friends, but don’t forget to keep in touch with the friends your kids (and you) left behind. Check out this blog post for some great ideas on how to do that.

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Unpakt Team