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Hi, everyone!

So, I am currently living in the northeastern United States, and I will be moving to the south for graduate school. This will be a 13 hour drive down. I will be moving with my boyfriend, our two cats, and our leopard gecko. Has anyone had experience with moving states, especially with pets? What is the cheapest way to move all of our furniture? How do I get my pets to ride in the car with the least amount of stress/anxiety? Thank you!

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13 minutes ago, bluebird8 said:

Hi, everyone!

So, I am currently living in the northeastern United States, and I will be moving to the south for graduate school. This will be a 13 hour drive down. I will be moving with my boyfriend, our two cats, and our leopard gecko. Has anyone had experience with moving states, especially with pets? What is the cheapest way to move all of our furniture? How do I get my pets to ride in the car with the least amount of stress/anxiety? Thank you!

Hi there and congratulations on being accepted to graduate school! I've made a 14 hour move from the north to the south for one program, a 13 hour move for another, and I'll be doing a 13.5 move to the midwest for my PHD program. I also drive home for the holidays which often meant 1-2 very long car rides.

When we travel, we try to have some turkey for our dog to eat. This usually results in her being very sleepy and she ends up sleeping for about 12 hours of the car ride. She'll wake up when she notices the car has stopped and it's time for a bathroom break. She goes to sleep immediately afterwards. I'm not sure if the same would happen for cats. I have heard that "Feliway" helps cats by helping them remain calm. If you're using a cat carrier, spray it on the crate 5-10 minutes before placing the cat inside it.

The 'cheapest' way of traveling depends on a number of factors. If you feel confident driving a U-Haul, renting a 10" or 15" truck is likely the most affordable rate. This would not provide enough space for all the animals though so you'll both end up driving for all 13 hours. I'd recommend a stopping point if this is your first major move.

Alternatively, U-Haul and other companies have shipping containers. U-Haul calls their version "U-Box". I'd recommend getting one more than you think you need as a precaution.  You only get charged for as many as you use. The rate depends on how far the boxes are going and generally take 5-7 days to get to the new location. ABF U-Pack offers a cheaper rate if you're willing to drop your stuff at their facility and pick it up at their facility in the city you're in. In a lot of cases, this would result in an additional 15-20 minutes of your time, but might result in you needing to rent a cargo van or U-haul truck for a shorter period of time for the transfer of items from the box to the truck.

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We're in similar boats! I'll be driving from Florida to the Midwest with my cat, so I'm also looking for advice, haha.

My undergrad school was about 12 hours away from home, though, and during my senior year I made quite a few trips home and back with my cat (I've also made the drive with two cats, but the process has been similar for both). She's generally good in the car, so I don't know how much help it'll be, but here's what I did:

  • Before making the long trip for the first time, I started driving her around town for short spurts. I don't know how much it helped, but it seemed to make her more comfortable when it came time for the real deal. 
  • I find that cats don't really feel like eating or drinking on the road. I always have food and water with me in case (as well as an accessible litter box), but I rarely end up needing them. 
  • She usually gets restless after several hours, so if I'm driving alone, I'll take a break for 15 minutes or so and take her out of the carrier to stretch her legs/snuggle a little. If someone is with me, I typically keep her carrier (soft-sided) on my lap so I can reach in and pet her when she starts being a butt. 

I've never used any sort of sedatives for the cats, but there are lots of options there if needed. Congrats and good luck with the move!

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Interestingly, I am doing the opposite move. I am going from the South West to the North East. 

It really depends on what you want to take. UHaul told me they would charge around $2000 for one of their typical medium sized trucks to take cross country. I have been looking into moving companies at the moment, each one is different so I haven't been able to get an average price yet. The main issue is what I'm taking. I originally planned for a small UHaul just for the basics (pots, pans, books, clothes and sheets, etc.), I was going to buy all my furniture in the place I would move to (so couches, bed, chairs, tables, maybe even tvs). However for the price UHaul is charging me, it really isn't that much more to just get a moving company. With a moving company, it would be around the same price to take what I was before+furniture. So for me, I'm currently contemplating just getting my furniture here at home, and then getting a moving company to take everything to where I'd be going. Also means I don't have to drive straight to my new place, and can do a little cross country fun and take my time getting up North (and less stress and hassle). 

Again, really depends on what you want to bring, and your budget. 

 

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I'll be moving from the Northeast to San Diego, so I've started thinking through the logistics of a very long (~44 hour) move as well! Like the previous poster said, I've had several friends who have moved cross-country who told me that they found movers to be as affordable as renting a Uhaul over long trips. Remembering to figure in the gas you'll need for a long trip as well as the cost of renting the vehicle if you're doing it yourself is important. I know Greyhound has a shipping service that can be pretty cheap for some of your items that you may not need right away. My in-laws sent us two kayaks from around 16 hours away via their shipping service, and it was quite convenient and affordable. It will come when there's room for it, though, so I wouldn't want to count on it for essentials. Still, it worked well for something as large as two kayaks, and it might be something to consider!

My in-laws make 11 hour car trips with their cat several times a year. Their cat has a tendency to get car sick (part of the drive is in the mountains, which likely doesn't help), but he is generally much happier by the end of the drive if they don't feed him the night before or during the trip.

 

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I'm in the same boat, looking at Massachusetts to North Carolina. All the U-Box styles are $1500 easily which is just too expensive for the minimal amount of things I have. Truck rentals are even more expensive for that distance because of the one-way mileage not to mention towing your car. I'm looking into borrowing a minivan with a trailer hitched and just driving that down and back, and then driving my car down. Which means a crap town of driving ahaha, but way cheaper - just gas money.

As for cats, we moved ours recently up here from Ohio. We tried drugging them once and they freaked out. Was the worst. I also drove them four hours alone, with constant meowing. They were most calm when released from their carrier and held by another family member in the car.

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@singinglupines, if you can avoid the trailer hitch, you'll make the drive a lot easier and much more fuel efficient. It really all depends on how much stuff you deem essential and what you're willing to purchase in the new location. For books/DVDs, shipping via Greyhound or Media Mail is usually the cheapest option. Taking those out of the vehicle can free up a lot of space for other things. 

My other moving strategy is to take a serious, harsh look at my belongings and make decisions about what I do and don't need. That doesn't mean I get rid of every single thing I haven't used in 6 months (or a year or whatever those decluttering books suggest) but it means I think about things realistically. As in, I may not have worn that black tie outfit recently but, it still fits and looks good, so I'll keep it because I know that I'll go to another black tie event again. Doing that really helps me cull through both clothing and trinkets/souvenirs to keep only the things which are most meaningful or that I know I'll use again.

P.S. I feel bad for you cat owners. I'm lucky to have a dog who loves roadtrips, which makes it so much easier to move across the country. 

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I did a 2-day road trip with two cats and a dog to my current job, looking at moving 3-4 days (28 hours driving time) for the next one. Yay cross-country moves! We just got a big kennel and put both our cats in it with a litterbox. They weren't happy, but they survived. We try not to do more than 8-ish hour days so they can get out at night and breathe some.

To build on to what @rising_star recommends, we've done a lot of selling/re-buying items. This works especially well for furniture- you can usually sell it and rebuy something at the new location for less than the cost differential of moving it. 

Our big thing is books- we've got 4 full sized bookshelves and some smaller ones, and that adds to the weight everywhere we go. 

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