Costs of Getting There

Okay, folks. How are you going to get you and your entourage from here to there? If “there” is simply around the corner or across town, the convoy isn’t a big deal. But if you’re relocating to Ma-po Ku, Korea, you have a problem. You also have lots of options.

If you’re moving yourself, your vehicle will deliver both you and the goods to your destination.

Your car must have enough to transport you from the old house to the new—another legitimate moving expense. If you sent your household goods off in a moving company van, you can drive to the new house in your own car. You can set your own route and schedule, as long as you are on hand at the new house on delivery day.

Moving Tips

If you are moving cross-country and driving, you can save by making the drive as quickly as possible. A couple of drivers will mean you can put in longer days on the road, saving a night or two’s motel bills. This strategy will also save several restaurant meals, which do add up quickly.

If you don’t know what kind of gas mileage your car gets, check a tank or two before your move. Note the odometer reading when you fill up. Then, the next time you fill up, note the new odometer reading and the number of gallons of gas you put in. Subtract the beginning reading from the ending reading to learn how many miles you drove on that tank of fuel. Divide that number by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank the second time. There you have the number of miles per gallon (mpg) your car drove.

Next, multiply the number of miles you will drive from your old home to the new one by your car’s mpg and you can estimate how many gallons of fuel you will need for the trip. Multiply that number by the average cost per gallon of fuel for an estimate of your fuel costs for the trip. Remember to allow mileage for any side trips you are making.

What kind of mileage will your car get if it’s pulling a trailer? First, estimate the weight of the fully-loaded trailer. Your rental agent can give you a good guess. Then divide that number by 100. The resulting number is the approximate percent of reduction in fuel the trailer will take to be pulled. Here’s an example:

A trailer with 3,000 pounds gross weight will reduce your mileage by 30 percent (3,000/100 = 30). If you now get 30 miles to the gallon (30 X .30 = 9 mpg), you will probably get about 21 mpg (30 – 9 = 21). Your mileage may vary.

How much fuel will your rental truck need to get there? Ask the rental agent approximately how many miles per gallon the truck gets, loaded. Assume they are optimistic and subtract a couple of miles per gallon. You can then figure your estimated fuel cost of the truck as you did for your car.

If everything from the house, including your car, is being moved on a moving company van, you and the family might opt to fly or take a bus or train to the new town. Flying makes a quick transition, while the train or bus will allow the family to get a real sense of change.

If you know well enough in advance, you may be able to take advantage of special airline discounts such as kids-fly-free, advance-purchase fares, or other promotions to help keep your travel costs down.

Moving Tips

For information on Amtrak train routes and schedules, call 800-USA-RAIL or visit them on the Internet at

Longer moves require overnight lodging along the way. You can budget as little as $40 or $50 per night, or you may spend upwards of $200 per night. If you own a tent, you can camp along the way for just a few bucks a night. If you know your route and schedule, make reservations ahead of time.

Has eating become a habit? Better set a food budget for your trip. You already have a good idea what your family likes to eat. Do you all need three full meals per day? Can you make a breakfast of granola bars and fruit? Carry a cooler or ice chest filled with snacks, breakfast, and lunch foods, and stop for one full meal per day. Or you can eat a big, late lunch (usually cheaper than dinner menus) and finish the day with lighter fare such as a salad.

To estimate your food costs for the move, decide how you will eat, determine approximately what it will cost per day, and multiply that by the number of days you will be on the road.

While they are not tax deductible, you may decide to add a fun category to your moving budget. Everyone in the family has worked hard to get ready for the move. They’ve earned a reward.

Want some real fun? Stop along the way to visit relatives. If you’d prefer, you can spend a day at Six Flags over Somethingorother. Or take a few hours to drive through a national park. Or visit the Smithsonian or Gettysburg.

Our family’s two-thousand-mile trip took five days to drive and gave all of us an invaluable look at our country.

Get a book on national parks and check entrance fees. Call toll-free numbers for major attractions along the way. What’s the price of a one-day pass to Disney World? What’s the cost of a few hours at an attraction in a city on your travel route? Many cities offer sightseeing tours by bus at a reasonable cost. Or you can see the downtown area in a horse-drawn carriage. Look around. There’s something fun to do almost everywhere.

And remember, you can do lots of fun things for free. Most parks are free. Lots of small museums only ask for a donation. Short side trips to see country lanes, fall colors, or spectacular water falls cost only a little fuel. During the summer months, many towns along your path may be holding festivals, which offer interesting things to do and a variety of foods to try. You all deserve a little fun in between the work of moving out and the work of moving in.

 Self-Move Estimates