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What to Bring in Your Car When Moving

Posted: July 6, 2023
A family begins to pack boxes into their car as they prepare it with moving day essentials.

Your old house is empty, the moving truck is loaded with boxes, and you’re just about ready to head to your new space. There’s only one problem — you realize that you packed your car keys in a moving box, and that box is squared away in the back of the moving truck.

It’s probably not the end of the world, but this should be avoided for a couple reasons. For one, it’s a major inconvenience to unpack your truck. For another, it wastes valuable time. If you hired professional movers, like Moving Help®, time is money out of your pocket.

The good news is, it’s easy to avoid this kind of mishap. By bringing these 10 essentials with you in your car, you won’t have anything to worry about on moving day.

  1. Important Documents
  1. Medications and Health Supplies
  1. Valuables
  1. Money
  1. An “Essentials” Bag
  1. Snacks and Water
  1. Toiletries and Bath Items
  1. Extra Clothing
  1. Electronic Devices
  1. Pets and Plants

10 Moving Day Essentials to Keep With You When Moving

1. Important Documents

You probably won’t need many personal documents during your move, but you’re better off bringing them with you for several reasons. These documents likely include your:

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Medical records
  • Insurance papers
  • Property documents
  • Checkbook

Appoint a temporary folder or file box for these documents and keep it with you in your vehicle. The box should be small enough to carry, so you don’t leave these documents in your car unattended.

You also may consider creating a digital copy. A digital copy is a way to keep these documents safe, especially when storing them on secure storage devices or cloud storage services. After you’re in your new home, find a safe, permanent place for them again, like a filing cabinet or personal safe.

2. Medications and Health Supplies

Make a list of your prescription medications and daily vitamins and supplements you’ll need throughout the move. Pack them in a small duffel bag or box and keep it in your car.

You’ll need to make a note of it on your phone or on the medication to check for specific storage requirements for your medications, especially if it needs to be refrigerated or frozen. The last thing you want to do is to waste money on medication while traveling.

An infographic shows 10 items you should bring with you in your car when moving. The 10 items are: important documents, medications and health supplies, valuables, money, an “Essentials” bag, snacks and water, toiletries and bath items, extra clothing, electronic devices, and pets and plants.

3. Valuables

Do you have anything that you can’t replace, like a rare painting, family heirloom, antique dishes, jewelry, vintage musical equipment, or something similar? Consider bringing that item along with you.

Although most movers offer insurance or a similar replacement policy for lost or broken items, it won’t do much good for something that’s nearly irreplaceable or of very high value.

To safely protect and transport your valuable items, consider wrapping them in bubble wrap, packing paper, clothes, or sheets. If you can place the item into a box, make sure the box is well padded and secure.

4. Money

This one may seem obvious, but don’t forget to keep your credit card(s), debit card, and any other means of payment with you when you move. These are maybe the last things you can afford to lose, literally. In addition, consider getting some cash out.

If you’re making a long trip, having cash will come in handy in case of an emergency or if you come across a business that doesn’t accept credit cards during your journey.

You also will want to notify your banks or financial institutions about your upcoming move. You’ll want to give them your new address — permanent or temporary. If you inform them, you’ll be less likely to have a problem with your cards being declined from unfamiliar transactions.

5. An “Essentials” Bag

Sometimes called a “First-night” bag, your essentials bag is for all the stuff you need to comfortably get through the first night in your new home. Think about it, after a long day of moving, there’s a good chance you won’t want to start digging through your boxes to find a phone charger. That’s why it’s best to have these items in one place that’s easy to access.

Common items to pack in your essentials bag:

  • Phone charger
  • Laptop charger
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Shower items
  • Eye care products
  • Deodorant
  • Change of clothes
  • Pajamas
A couple places boxes, plants, and an “essentials” bag into their car for moving day.

You may need to pack other necessary items for yourself, including medication and important documents. These documents can be packed inside of your essential bag for safekeeping, it’ll be an easy way to access them.

6. Snacks and Water

You’ll need some fuel to help get you through the day and your kitchen is most likely unavailable at this point. That’s why we recommend keeping some bottles of water and snacks on hand. Even if you have Moving Helpers doing the heavy lifting, it’s smart to bring snacks that give you energy, like fruits, protein bars, and nuts.

If you’re driving in your car for a long time or for multiple days, you may consider buying a cooler or insulated bag. This will help keep your snacks fresh and your water cool, especially in hot-weather climates. You also should make sure you’ve packed enough snacks and water to last the duration of your move.

7. Toiletries and Bath Items

Keep some toiletries and bath items with you so they’re readily available 1. after everything is packed up at your old place and 2. before you unpack at your place. Your list will be different depending on your needs, but in general, you’ll want:

  • Bath tissue
  • Hand sanitizer or soap
  • A toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash

Some additional items you may consider bringing are:

  • Towels
  • Personal care products
  • Medications

You can also include anything else you think of that’s needed.

8. Extra Clothing

It doesn’t hurt to have some extra clothing on hand, especially if you’re moving with children. Even one extra outfit and an extra pair of shoes and socks will work. Try to pack clothing that’s comfortable and appropriate for moving.

Pro tip: Try to plan for unexpected weather changes. Also, consider the weather at your destination. For example, going from a warm state to a cool state will most likely require changing into long pants and a jacket.

Another consideration for extra clothing would be extra undergarments and pajamas for children. If you might encounter multiple weather changes from your original destination, while driving to your new destination, and at your new destination, you may consider choosing clothing that can be layers or mixed matched to account for all weather conditions.

9. Electronic Devices

Laptops, phones, gaming consoles, and tablets aren’t just expensive gadgets, they also hold some of our most valuable information. Although there are plenty of packing supplies out there that will keep them safe from damage, it’s best not to leave anything to chance. Instead, take your devices with you in the car to ensure they aren’t damaged or lost during the move.

To protect your items further, you should try to back up as much data as possible. For example, you could back up your computer’s data onto a cloud storage service or an external hard drive.

For gaming consoles, you might place the gaming console’s external hard drive in a different location in your car. That way, if something happens to your console, your external hard drive is still safe.

A family packs moving day essentials in the back of the truck before driving to their new home.

If you’re staying overnight during your move, you should bring these valuable electronic devices inside your hotel room for extra security.

10. Pets and Plants

Think about it – anything that’s alive probably shouldn’t be tucked away in a moving truck. Especially if you’re moving long distance.

Bringing pets and plants along for the ride in your car allows you to take care of them as needed, whether that means supplying food, water, or general comfort. It also allows you to keep a close eye for signs of stress and discomfort. Don’t forget to bring food and water for your pet(s), as well as anything else they might need to stay happy and healthy.

When moving to a new city or state, you’ll want to have done your research prior to moving to make sure you comply with any necessary regulations or requirements when transporting pets, such as securing them safely in carriers and any other specific travel guidelines. Additionally, when transporting plants, you want to make sure you provide adequate protection and avoid extreme temperatures — hot or cold — as most plants can’t handle sudden temperature changes.