Driving cross-country from NYC to LA
July 5, 2014 7:50 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way for a student to move her things cross-country? She will be making the drive across, spending time in a few cities along the way.

My friend is planning on moving back home in LA from NYC, having graduated from law school. She wants to do the cross-country drive, but we are trying to figure out the most convenient, cost-effective option for getting her things across without driving a U-Haul cross-country. She will be making several stops along the way to visit cities she hasn't been to.

So far, it looks like renting a car and perhaps using Amtrak Express for shipping her stuff - (clothes, books, small electronics) - will be her best option. PODS seems expensive, and living in the city doesn't really make that a feasible option.

What are our other options? Also appreciate any ideas/ suggestions/ hacks on this move in general! Thank you, Mefites.
posted by Everydayville to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
sell as much as possible, and buy new/used when you get to your new home? This might shrink it down enough to fit in a regular car, or maybe a minivan?

BTW despite being very uncool, minivans are the best way to travel cross country. You can sleep in them, eat in them, haul lots and lots of suff in them (this can get in the way of sleeping however) they are comfortable, easy to drive, get decent mileage and are usually pretty easy and cheap to keep on the road. Also, cops dislike pulling them over due to the whole family thing (noone wants to deal with screaming/upset children) (I heard this is from a cop-not highway patrol, your mileage may vary).

Also, soft items like clothes and bedding are easiest to pack (and very space efficient) to tie up in top sheets. Lay out the sheet, pile up stuff in the middle, fold over the covers and tie in a bundle. Much easier to pack into a car than boxes and saves tons of time. I don't even take clothes off hangers.
posted by bartonlong at 8:16 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Books and papers can all be mailed quite cheaply using US Postal Service Media Mail. I think you can also send cds and dvds that way.

Renting a car for a cross-country trip is going to be very expensive. She could consider getting an Amtrak pass for travel to multiple places, or even a pass on Greyhound but that is much less comfortable than Amtrak.
posted by mareli at 8:31 PM on July 5, 2014

I moved from NY to OR in a rental minivan, taking along my parents for the ride. I shipped 7 boxes of books (15-20 lb each) by media mail for about $100. I used Carhire3000 which gave me a really good deal (about $700 total for an 8-day 1-way rental) but they actually have a policy of not renting for those prices to US-license holders and they happened to not check me. I am not sure if that's always the case, so there's a risk there. Shop around the different car rental companies because I think the one-way rental prices can be very different.
posted by bread-eater at 8:33 PM on July 5, 2014

My experience with Pods was problematic. They used to be allowed on the street, but now you need a dedicated parking spot. If you don't have spot, you need to unload at the Pods warehouse into a truck. Unless you're 100% sure she's moving into a spot with a Pods compliant spot (private property and size), then Pods should not be an option for you.

It seems like you've eliminated Pods - which I strongly recommend in Southern California cities.
posted by 26.2 at 10:56 PM on July 5, 2014

posted by Jacqueline at 11:43 PM on July 5, 2014

Seconding media mail for books and anything else that's eligible for it. Media mail is incredibly cheap, although the tradeoff for that cheapness is that it's very slow, and likely will take weeks to arrive.

Clothes are light. Hence, they're a prime candidate for commercial shipping services.

Small electronics? Why not try to rent a car with plenty of trunk space and just bring it with?
posted by paultopia at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2014

Shipping Greyhound is cheaper than Amtrak. I sent my huge cabinet speakers that way.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 PM on July 6, 2014

You can check with the local city to see if they issue temporary permits for keeping a pod on the street.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2014

You can check with the local city to see if they issue temporary permits for keeping a pod on the street.

My city (the city government that employees me as an Engineer) doesn't issue these anymore. People have a bad habit of using them as storage units on already narrow streets and always having a ready excuse for why they can't be moved or they aren't done 'unpacking' yet.

Not that it is your intention, but if you get a no, this is the reason why. However, you can get them (usually) dropped at a self storage place you can unpack into.
posted by bartonlong at 3:31 PM on July 7, 2014

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