What Should I Pack In My Car On a Cross-country Move?

When Disney Pixar released its new film Inside Out, parents and children alike learned about the complexities of emotions and how they impact us on a daily basis. But this incredible movie teaches us something else: cross-country moves create fun memories… and sometimes drama, too. It only makes sense. All moves are emotional, and cross-country moves can be especially hard. If we had to move across the nation, we’d probably feel a little apprehensive at first. too.

Before you worry too much, remember that most cross-country moves go perfectly well. Unlike the family in Inside Out, you probably won’t have to worry about their moving van driving to the wrong state! Even if you know that, however, there’s never any reasoning with anxiety. That’s why we recommend preparation instead. The more prepared you are for your trip, the less anxious you’ll feel about it. We’re not just talking about your moving truck, either. You have to prepare for your personal trip, too! That’s why Bekins put together this list of ten essential things to pack in your car for cross-country moves. Having these on hand will help you feel much more prepared and even excited come moving day:


No matter how hard you try to avoid them, lock-outs happen. Whether you lost your car key in the gas station parking lot or locked it in the ignition, lock-outs cause stress you’d rather avoid. To circumvent these unfortunate scenarios, pack a spare car key in your wallet or purse at all times. It’s no extra work and you’ll be so glad to have it!


As you box up your dresser, leave out a few changes of clothes and pack them in your car. Whether you arrive before your moving truck or your travel outfit gets dirty, you’ll want extra clothes on hand. Remember to bring at least one pair of extra:

  • Undergarments and socks
  • T-shirts
  • Jeans
  • Pajamas

Consider bringing a work ensemble in your vehicle as well. Make sure to pack this work outfit in a garment bag to prevent wrinkles and stains.


Driving cross-country takes a long time. It’s very likely that your passengers will want to take naps during the drive. Bring a few pillows and light blankets along so they can sleep as comfortably as possible. Avoid large, bulky bedding so you don’t accidentally obstruct the driver’s vision.

Making sure nappers are comfortable is a great way to ensure you don’t wind up with crabby passengers. And avoiding crabby passengers is the best way to ensure a happy road trip… trust us.


If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel before, you know that the shower supplies they provide don’t usually last long. Pack a small bag of bathroom essentials for you and your family, such as:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap or body wash
  • Face wash
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Mouthwash
  • Lotion
  • Razors

Store these items in a plastic bag or put plastic wrap over the caps to reduce leaks during travel.


No road trip would be complete without good food! But cross-country moves offer a different kind of adventure. These drives last much longer, so you’ll want to eat healthier snacks to avoid feeling sluggish along the way. Invest in a cooler and pack the following foods inside:

  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • String cheese
  • Cucumbers
  • Pepperoni or salami

Don’t forget to add dipping sauces-like ranch-for your veggies. Most importantly, remember to drink lots of water on your trip. You can indulge in some treats, but you’ll want to keep your sodium and junk food intake to a minimum.


Messes happen even if you try to avoid them. Combat any spills with an on-hand cleaning supply kit. Go to the store and buy a small plastic storage tub, as well as the following materials:

  • Tissues
  • Floss
  • Paper towels
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Lip balm

You can also bring odor-eliminating spray with you to rid your car of any smells caused by messes.


Entertain yourself and your passengers with audiobooks and music. Preload your iPod or mp3 player with your favorite tunes and put this device in your car. For variety, download a few lyricless songs and sing karaoke on the road.


If someone accidentally gets hurt during a stop, or even in your car, you want a first aid kit on hand. Make sure to include a small pair of scissors, tweezers, alcohol pads, and extra bandages along with traditional first aid kit supplies.


Roadside emergencies happen when you least expect them. Prepare in advance and pack the following items in your trunk:

  • Flashlight
  • Gloves
  • Spare tire and lift kit
  • Roadside flares
  • Folding shovel

As an extra precaution, have the following phone numbers programmed into your phone:

  • Highway patrol
  • Roadside assistance
  • Police and emergency services

Should a roadside emergency occur, you’ll be well-prepared and know who to contact.


Keep your car clean from food wrappers, paper towels, and other garbage-and bring a trash bag with you. To conserve space in your vehicle, consider using a paper or plastic bag from the grocery store. And don’t forget to dispose of full trash bags appropriately.


Start your cross-country move off right and remember to pack these essential items in your car. Let your moving professionals handle the rest of your belongings. If you have any other questions about packing or moving, consult the rest of our blog. If you want some help with your move, remember that Bekins always has your back. Have a great trip, and stay safe!

One Comment to “What Should I Pack In My Car On a Cross-country Move?”
  1. So helpful!! Thx!!

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