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Moving Travel + Wanderlust

My First Cross Country Move Alone

My first cross country move alone | ChelseaDinen.com

Out of the five times I’ve moved cross country, I’ve driven every single time.

I think we all know how much I adore driving across the U.S. (and if you don’t, you can check this post here.)

In my eCourse Soul-Centered Moving: A Spirited Course in Moving Cross Country Alone (which you can sign up for here!) I go into great detail about the different methods I’ve used to get my belongings from one coast to the next. I also talk about how I found all of my apartments from afar, how I met new people, and how I found my own Truth while living in cities where I hardly knew a soul. So, while I won’t be discussing all of that today, I wanted to share with you some of my experiences during my very first move cross country.


It was January of 2010 and I somehow just barely managed to escape before the East Coast “Snowmaggedon” hit.

I was leaving Virginia and moving to Utah, where I knew practically no one.

I had never done anything even remotely close to this magnitude before and, needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of moving cross country alone. Having made three additional cross country moves since, I definitely wish I had done things differently the first time around. Here are a few:

  1. I would have wanted to see my apartment or at least get a tour of the complex prior to moving.
  2. I would have been more cautious of weather.
  3. I would have been more cautious of traveling alone at night. (Knowing how I am now, I honestly can’t believe I was so lax back then.)
  4. I would have taken more time to go through my belongings before I moved. I ended up with SO much that I didn’t really need.
  5. I would have picked out my furniture more consciously instead of just getting what was cheapest.
  6. I would have given more thought to where I was moving and why.

Basically, I was only 23 when I decided to move the first time. Just a year out of college. Living with my parents. Having no solid grasp on who I truly was at such a transitional point in my life (after college, first job, etc.)

Because of all of this, I made a lot of impulse decisions. Moving 2,000 miles away to a city I had never even considered visiting until a few months prior was one of those decisions. But, I was stubborn and back then, if someone told me they didn’t think I should do something, that gave me even more reason to do so. I’m much more sensible these days :)


So, are you ready to go on a little photo journey with me as we look back on my first cross country move alone? (I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. These were taken during my pre-DSLR days!)

With a few things packed in my car and the rest to later be shipped, I waved goodbye to my Mom and Dad (and sweet childhood cat, Missy!) in the afternoon and made it all the way from DC to St. Louis the first day.

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

Believe it or not, these pictures below at the St. Louis arch were taken early in the morning. It was cold and dreary. I had picked up a friend on my first day who offered to help drive with me along the way which was a huge help!

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

After a little exploring in downtown St. Louis and seeing the Mississippi River (pictured behind me above), I was off to the next stop — Kansas City! I stopped there for some Kansas City BBQ before driving up through Iowa and into Nebraska. The only pictures I really got of Nebraska were taken during the night so you’ll have to go see Nebraska for yourself :) But here’s a little look at Kansas City!

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

Passing from Nebraska into Wyoming on I-80 is when things started to get interesting. Growing up on the East Coast, I had never before seen terrain like what I saw in Wyoming. The snow-covered plateaus were my favorite site during the cross country drive. It was truly mesmerizing to look out and see a backdrop of rocky formations. It seemed like a scene out of an old Western film!

Also, every time I drive through Wyoming, the song “Home on the Range” comes into mind:

“Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day.”

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

A word of caution about I-80, because I had absolutely no idea prior to making my first cross country drive:

I-80 is notorious for high winds and snow storms that often shut down the freeway entirely. Don’t believe me? Google “I-80 Wyoming videos” and see.

I-80 is also full of tractor trailers. Because of the high winds, when you drive alongside the trucks, your car feels as though it’s getting sucked up next to the truck. So, be careful and mindful about traveling I-80, especially during times of the year when it could snow. I was pretty lucky during my trip but knowing what I know now, I would probably consider another route if I were to drive that way in the middle of winter again.

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

I love Western Wyoming as you get into the mountains a little more. It’s just absolutely beautiful. Other than the scenic views, there wasn’t much to see or do throughout the state. Because I was a cross country moving rookie at the time, I hadn’t looked up any cool places along the road (other than the obvious Arch in St. Louis) to stop along and see.

RoadsideAmerica.com is a great resource to find interesting attractions throughout U.S. roadways!

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

My first time moving cross country | ChelseaDinen.com

I can’t say that it was the most fun drive out of the four I’ve made across the U.S. (personally the Southwest is my favorite region to drive through!) but it was surely an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m definitely glad that I had the comfort of my own car to travel in and didn’t have to worry about a U-Haul or Penske truck, especially during winter travel.

If you’re moving cross country, you’ll need patience, common sense, good music, and a solid plan.


I’ll never forget the way I felt when I finally arrived in my new city. It was late at night and the way the snow covered mountains looked in the dark was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was in my new home.

I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom and independence that I didn’t even know I was capable of.

At that very moment, the world was my oyster.

It was the first moment I ever truly realized how capable I was of doing anything that I put my mind to.

The mountains below, the mountains that towered over my new home were a symbol of newfound strength for me.

First time moving cross country_14

Little did I know at the time, this was only the beginning.

While there are things I would have done differently, that’s life. You live and you learn. Luckily, I continued to keep learning during each of my moves. Not only did I learn about moving but I more importantly learned about myself. It’s all about the journey.

Join Soul-Centered Moving | ChelseaDinen.com

Again, to register for the Soul-Centered Moving online course, get all the details here! If you’re a girl hoping to move to a new city on your own, you really won’t want to miss this.

More posts like this:
8 tips from my last cross country move
Why being scared to relocate isn’t such a bad thing
My number one tip to save money before you move
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