What are the Cheapest Ways to Move Long Distances?

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Although we may always have one point on the planet that we truly label as “home”, our lives are never constant enough to keep us there forever. As a result, we are constantly relocating and going to new places and trying new things. Not all of these changes require a full blown relocation, but every now and then, an opportunity comes that is located pretty far away that requires you to pack up the family and move.

In those times that we have to move over long distances, whether it be just out of state or flat out on the other side of the country, how do you prepare for such a change of scenery, and more importantly, how can you make that move as cheap and inexpensive as possible? Here are some factors and suggestions to keep in mind to make your big move that much easier and affordable.


Organize everything from point A to B.

Before you even think about looking up rental rates on that U-Haul you think you’ll need, you should spend a good amount of time taking serious inventory of your possessions. What you need to do, although you certainly will not want to, is to divide your belongings into two sections: things that will come along, and things that will stay.

This decision is not one that is easily made, so give yourself plenty of time to sort and let your spouse or partner successfully convince you that a lot of your possessions are better off being let go of. You can’t take it all with you, so setting up an actual inventory of the things you will attempt to take with you on your move is a necessary factor in finding what method will work best for your specific move.

Make a list of everything and keep it as to the point as possible and if achievable, bring a friend in to act as a detached decider on items in question: only necessities and absolutely irreplaceable items should be considered as candidates to make the journey.


Sell what doesn’t make the cut.

For all things that did not make the cut as items that will continue their journey with you on your move, fear not, for you can sell it. All of it.

With avenues such as Craigslist and EBay, along with many other lesser known but still viable websites that make selling off your possessions as easy as taking a picture and uploading it online, you can sell virtually anything you want to get rid of. From that big sofa to that creepy rocking horse your mom gave you as a house warming gift 9 years ago (don’t ask…), there is a buyer out there for anything.

Anything you don’t sell, just donate it to friends, a local church in need, the Goodwill or a Salvation Army Center. Just because you don’t have a need for it anymore, doesn’t mean others won’t find a use for it.


So how do I get my stuff there?

Once you were able to sort through the clutter while also picking up a little profit from thinning the herd, it’s time to look into how you are going to get what is left from point “A”, your current residence to point “B”, your future residence.

Considering you honestly tried to cut down on everything and are now traveling as light as possible, this will dictate what kind of shipping and traveling method is best for you. Consider the following if you have:


  • Just the clothes on your back (and a few bags worth of travel luggage)-

Congratulations, you have done what is almost impossible and sorted your way all the way down to just what was absolutely needed. Your reward for being so frugal (albeit curiously detached from heirlooms and other sentimental objects) is that you can travel however you would like with very little expenses other than normal travel costs.

You can make the drive to your new location and pay only for gas, or you can fly while paying for bag check fees and carry-on, or you can even take the train or bus if so inclined. Kudos for getting your total amount of items down to just a few pieces of luggage.

  • Clothes and few boxes of books and misc. –

Widdling down your possessions into nothing more than a few bags of clothes, maybe some small heirlooms, and a box or two of irreplaceable computer items or photo albums is no easy feat, but you still did it. When it comes to options on how to send your possessions over to your new home, you have a few.

Depending on the sizes of the few boxes that you have, you can either send them on ahead via mail, or you could take them with you with little trouble other than small fees. If you have a car that can fit them your items, then you are good to go. Another option for your items is that you can mail them to your new residence for a pretty low fee.

If the contents of one or a few of your boxes qualifies, you can send your box of goodies through the USPS mail as something called “Media Mail”. This means that if your box contains materials educational materials such as books and other materials of the like, you can send the entire box for a few dollars. Check in with your post office to see if your parcel qualifies for such a deal. If not, consider mailing your stuff anyway through the USPS or other delivery services of the like due to how astronomically cheaper it is than renting an entire truck or trailer.

  • Clothes, boxes of misc., and some furniture-

We get it, it’s tough to separate yourself from your treasure trove of goodies. We still think you could have tossed out more things, but what’s done is done. Based on what you have left, you may consider placing a call to a rental service such as the all too familiar U-Haul or POD service and get a quote as to what your journey will cost with rental fees and gas and mileage. It’ll be a hard drive, but cheaper than flying a desk and piano across the country on a cargo airline.

  • You didn’t throw anything away at all –

Again, we still think you could have tossed out more for your move and sold what could be replaced on the other end of the trip, but when you have kids who want to have very particular items come along, it gets harder and harder to thin out what gets left behind. The best option to move an entire families worth of possessions, or even a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment’s worth of belongings is to contact professional movers and get quotes from them for their services.

The downside is that this service is going to run you a pretty high dollar amount. The upside is everything else. You get peace of mind that your belongings are being handled by polished professionals, and you no longer have to worry about being forced to drive across the country because you can now travel to your new home any way you want. Take the scenic route by train, plain, or even boat (there are still islands that belong to the United States, guys) and enjoy the experience. You certainly paid enough for it.

When getting prices from various companies, don’t be afraid to haggle and negotiate. Being willing to talk down prices could be the difference from paying over 3 grand to below 2. Give it a shot.


Packing up for cheap.

You can save a good amount of cash by packing up your possessions yourself with materials you cheaply procured. Cardboard boxes, for reasons I still cannot understand, are very expensive if you buy them from moving companies, but you should know right now that there are plenty of other places to get your hands on cardboard boxes for free.

Hit up your local grocery store and ask for any boxes that they are planning on tossing out from the back. Besides that, try your local liquor store too, and anywhere else that uses boxes to ship in their products for. For bigger boxes, like refrigerator sized boxes, try appliance stores. If you can get one of these giant boxes, be sure to keep it away from the kids because they will certainly try to make forts out of it. Let them know they can have it after the move… or just whenever you might be done playing with it. Boxes are fun, what else can we say?

For packing materials inside the box, grab and crumple up magazines, newspapers, junk mail, or even old pieces of clothing to keep your items from rattling around and cracking.


There are plenty of ways to save cash when it’s time to make the big move across the state or country. The best way to save cash is to cut down on what you are taking with. There really is no getting around that, so try to make the distinction between what can easily be replaced and what can’t be. This will lighten the tow load very quickly.

Best of luck to you on your move, and happy packing!

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