Millions of Americans making moving cross country their big goal each year in search of new job opportunities or a change of scenery. There’s something about a fresh start that compels many families to take on a big move, while some young professionals are just looking for a new environment to embrace their adulthood. Whatever the case may be, moving is an exciting yet stressful time. It requires the right amount of preparation and a whole lot of organization to pull it off successfully.  

Before you start making your checklist or calling your next moving company, there is one decision that should be made early on in the moving process: do you ship your vehicle or take the scenic route? Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, a little bit of fun versus a little less stress. It’s important to compare them both so you can land on a decision that works best for your budget and time frame. 

In this post, we’ll outline the pros/cons of each option to help you make an informed decision as you embark on your next adventure. 

Cost: Is it cheaper to ship your car or drive it when moving cross country?

The average cost to ship a vehicle can fall anywhere between $350 and $1,500. The price is ultimately determined by the amount of mileage to your new home and the availability of drivers. Sometimes even gas prices or the time of year can greatly impact your shipping quote. 

The bottom line: car shipping is not cheap. Prices will always fluctuate between transport companies so it is recommended to get various quotes before making a decision. Fair warning, these shipping companies are notorious for calling you nonstop. But hey, it’s a great opportunity to make a deal. 

If you’re ballin’ on a budget, the answer is simple. Driving is the clear winner. The additional expense of hotels, gas, and food, will typically average $100-200 cheaper than the hefty amount of shipping your car. 

Is the wear and tear worth the drive?

Whether you’re driving an older vehicle or newer model, a trip across the U.S. can put some serious wear and tear on your ride. If you’re leasing your car, it’s likely a bad idea to put any extra mileage on your odometer. Typically, a lease agreement will limit you to an amount of mileage per year. You wouldn’t want one trip to cost you extra expenses down the road when the time comes to return your vehicle. 

In most cases, shipping your car would be the best option. But if you happen to choose to make the drive, it is important to get your car’s maintenance in order. Here is our suggested checklist below: 

By marking off the items on this list, you can ensure your car is more than ready for the drive ahead. Let’s face it, no one wants to be in the middle of nowhere in need of an oil change or mechanical repair. 

Is your safety at risk moving cross country by driving?

Being on the road will always pose the risk of an accident occurring. An accident can happen at any time, in any location, especially if you plan on driving during dawn or dusk. Without being the voice of gloom and doom, the probability of a car crash is still minimal, but you should always take your safety into consideration. 

This factor, although important, is too objective to sway your decision in one way or the other. But I will say, the safest possible place for any car owner is away from the major highways, especially certain areas that you are unfamiliar with driving. For every mile driven, your odds of an accident increases. Therefore, the question isn’t whether you should drive, it’s if you’re prepared for the long hours, drowsiness, or unpredictable drivers and truckers on the road. 

Are you working with a tight deadline?

Driving across the country takes a lot of time and patience. If you can withstand the thought of being in a car for up to 8-10 hours a day then driving might be a breeze for you. For others, not so much. Sometimes you only have a week before you start your new job, or simply can’t stomach the thought of wasting all that precious time on some empty roads. As a family, maybe it’s the perfect opportunity to take that long overdue vacation. Needless to say, there is no correct answer. 

My inner sense of adventure always leans toward the road trip. Just last year I had the opportunity to drive from South Florida to California, seeing famous landmarks and stopping in notable cities along the way. Was it worth it? Absolutely. But I know it’s not every person’s cup of tea — especially when time is of the essence.

For the sake of sanity and time, I would say shipping is the real winner here. 

moving cross country via plane

Final consensus for moving cross country  

After evaluating each of these factors, it’s apparent that shipping your car is the safest and least stressful option. If money is no object, it is the most convenient choice by far. If you’re anything like me, that sense of adventure might just drive you to explore the open road. The U.S. has an abundance of scenic byways just waiting to be explored and it truly is a once in a lifetime experience. Unless, of course, you plan on moving again. 

Have you moved across the U.S.? Would you ship your vehicle or drive it? Tell us about your experience below. 

Michaella Malone
Hello! My name is Michaella Malone. I am a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in English. I am a freelance writer with varied experience in ghostwriting, blogging, and resume building. I have additional knowledge in creating content for ESL curriculums.

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    4 Comments

    1. This was interesting to me. My brother did a big move, from Florida to California. He drove and my mother accompanied him. I never realized people shipped their cars until my friend’s sister moved from Florida to Texas and shipped her car. Seemed silly to me. But I guess it just depends. My family is known for long road trips. I think another factor may be the amount of people. If it is a larger family, it may seem more cost efficient to drive over multiple plane tickets and shipping a vehicle.

    2. I personally would choose to drive the cross country, only because the trip would be worth experience.

    3. When I moved from NJ to Fl, I drove my little old honda accord. Definently put a lot of wear on it, but it still runs smooth.

    4. When I moved I decided to drive! I loved it. Getting to see the sights and taking youre time was amazing. If i had a deadline to to move i definitely would’ve shipped my car though.

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