Et Cetera Ad Infinitum And I Can’t


I am now officially completely overwhelmed by the logistical issues associated with a cross-country move.

The sale of one house, the purchase of another. The sale of one car, the purchase of another. The booking of flights to search for a place to live, and the booking of car rentals and AirBnBs for said search. The filling out of the tens of thousands of forms that you apparently must fill out when you move four human lives three thousand miles, all of which appear to be written in Chinese. And et cetera ad infinitum.

The dogs broke me.

Look at my cute little problems.

Because I’m trying to take things one day at a time, and today is the day when I research the logistics of our cross-country drive (which we are extremely determined to make happen; this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity)…and I started calling around to RV companies to get price quotes…

And then I started wondering: how does one actually…do anything other than be in an RV if one is in an RV? How, for example, does one go to a restaurant? Or a museum? Or anywhere that isn’t…you know…a campground? Maybe these are ridiculous questions, but this is a totally foreign thing to me, so…I just don’t know.

And so I started thinking that maybe it would be a better idea to just drive our car cross-country, which would have the added bonus of taking away the burden of figuring out a way to ship the thing (because apparently our station wagon is too heavy to hook to the back of a camper). Sure, it’d be cramped, but all of us are used to long drives (and like them), and doing this would make us way more flexible.

And then all of a sudden I realized:

the dogs.

Because it’s one thing to drive across the country in a Subaru Outback with two kids; adding two dogs to the mix is not happening both because it vastly complicates the “finding places to eat and sleep” thing, and also because…I don’t know. It just doesn’t sound like a very good plan.

Anyway, I am now completely stuck on this one stupid issue which is super, super small in comparison to the zillions of other issues I have to wrestle into submission over the coming months, but I can’t get past it.

I’m also aware that I’m going to figure out how to get those dogs across the country safely and (relatively) happily, just like I’m going to figure out a place for us to live and a way to transfer our medical records that actually gets them transferred as opposed to listening to a very nice administrator tell me “Oh, we’re faxing them over today!” (which is a virtual guarantee that said records will not only not get faxed, but will actually disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again) and a way to sell Kendrick’s car at the exact moment in time that enables him to get to Yale for graduation but still gets the thing off of our property before we take off just a few days later. All of this is going to happen, because it has to. I’ll figure it out. I know that. I also know that this is an exciting time in our life, and that as problems go this is not an especially bad one to have.

But today?

Today I can’t do it. I cannot figure out one single more thing.

Suggestions? Virtual hugs? Head pats? I’ll take ’em all.

  • Angela J

    My husband and I had a move from California to Michigan planned (we didn’t end up having to move after all, but did everything in preparation to, which was a lot of wasted time and effort hahaha). I understand the stress. I wanted to do the road trip thing, but with a 2 year old and two grouchy, high-maintenance cats it just wasn’t in the cards. Ultimately the best option was to box everything and have it shipped via a freight company; you can even ship your car if you want to. And then fly there with the babes and the dogs – pay the extra baggage and take a few extra suitcases with necessities on the plane. You’ll get there a week ahead of your stuff. In a time as stressful as moving across country and essentially starting a whole new life, I realized it was best to make the things you do have control over as easy as possible. You can always do a fun, RV family road trip after the move.

    • jordanreid

      that’s really good advice and makes so much sense. i just…there’s something so exciting about a road trip with this kind of a start and endpoint, you know? and kendrick has the time off between school and the start of his job, and…it just feels like an opportunity. if it ends up being too much, it ends up being too much, but i’d like to give it a good college try to see if we can make it work.

      • Angela J

        For sure! And if you can make it work, do it up! I’m a total control freak so that’s why I initially wanted to travel with all of my stuff 🙂 – but at some point it started to be more overwhelming to figure out those logistics than just letting go a little and letting someone else handle it. Hahaha. Good luck! And if you end up shipping and flying, I did a ton of research on reputable freight/car shipping companies/costs and would be happy to forward you the info I have 🙂

  • Sahnzi

    I have nothing profound to say here (you know everything is going to be ok in the end), but I do have something profoundly uplifting and silly to share.

    • jordanreid

      lol I LOVE THAT. i got some cats telling me i’m gorgeous 😉

  • Elizabeth

    (sorry if this posts twice – had difficulty logging in) My family did two cross-country moves from CA-DC in a minivan with three kids (and one time a dog). We also had cats. We usually left the pets with family/friends and had them flown to us when we arrived at our destination.

    RVs are more comfortable but not necessary! However, you could get a smaller RV that could fit in some parking lots – and you can always take cabs from the RV parks to restaurants, etc. My grandparents take their RV everywhere and never have a problem exploring.

    • jordanreid

      i just emailed some friends who we’ve paid to watch the dogs before to take their temperature on this. i worry that even if we’re paying it’s such a huge imposition to ask someone to bring your pet to the airport, though. i guess i can see what they say (and if they say yes, try to read between the lines to figure out if they think it’s too big of a pain and are just being nice) and go from there.

      • A

        I think this is a possibility, just find someone who has done something similar!

        After making it though an international move with our cat (including an escape in JFK airport that ended, quite literally, in bloodshed) I would be happy to help another pet owner in a major moving situation. Prior to that, I might have said yes to be nice, but now that I “get it”, I’d genuinely want to help.

        Sorry I don’t live in NY!

  • Elizabeth

    Oh the trips were so worth it too – we saw so many sights: Redwood forest, Petrified forest, Painted desert, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Vegas (I loved Circus Circus and Excalibur when I was little), Yosemite….I don’t remember much of what we saw in Eastern half unfortunately, except for the amazing tourist trap of “Across the Border” (I think my parents were ready to be done with the trips by then and just booked it…)

    • jordanreid

      oh my godddd, that makes me so excited!

  • Zara_xx

    Have you looked into having someone drive the car across the country for you? A couple of friends did this (there’s a company that handles the logistics of who/what/when/insurance/etc), and drove someone’s car out to BC for them (from Toronto). Not sure of details, but it could be something!
    Deep breaths! Calm blue oceans! Good luck 🙂

    • jordanreid

      i think that’s what we will do if we end up doing the RV – or maybe see if one of Kendrick’s classmates can do it, since I assume a bunch of them will be heading out there after graduation and wouldn’t mind a road trip free of rental car fees.

  • Rain Mikajlo

    how about leaving the pups with friends or family until youre settled at your new home then you or kendrick fly back to pick them up?

    • jordanreid

      that’s totally a possibility. i actually just spoke with a friend who might let me buy her and her bf a roundtrip ticket in exchange for watching them for a bit and flying out with them (and then they’d make it a little vacation in the meantime), which would be amazing.

  • antheapena

    Jordan you are getting a MASSIVO pat on the back from me.
    I haven’t planned a cross country trip but selling/buying at the same time, moving with children, medical issues, pets who don’t even fit in a car & need their own van & lane on the highway….yes!
    My suggestion would be to ship the dogs yourself (you do all the red tape etc. at the airport) & have a fab friend pick them up in SF, seems “easier” somehow. have a ginormous truck take everything including the car & you take a small camper cross country & sight see, park, drive without hassle
    You can do this & as you say, you will
    More power to you woman!

    • jordanreid

      that’s a good idea. i don’t know that any of our friends in Cali would be especially into watching our dogs for two weeks, though – maybe I can put my bribery pants on 😉

      • antheapena

        It’s time to use any brownie points you’ve acquired. Having said that maybe it’s better if your Mum puts them on a plane here so they arrive after you all do.

  • AB

    I drove cross country with my lhasa mix and my only tip is….sedatives (for the dog. And possibly you!) and a small crate. It kept her calm in the car and in hotels. Not ideal, but was my only option! Your vet can offer different options, and I recommend trying them out before as some will have the opposite effect (as I learned when taking my dog on a cross country flight. She chewed through her bag, ran up and down the aisles, begged for food from other passengers, and peed in the aisles). Best of luck! It is super stressfull, but will be worth it in the long run!

    • jordanreid

      i’ve heard about pets having that Opposite Of What You Want reaction! (babies too, apparently – doctors say to make sure to see how your child reacts to benadryl before giving it to them on a flight because it makes some babies turn into tiny lunatics). Lucy used to take sedatives when we flew back and forth from LA; I’ll definitely make sure we have them for their trip regardless of whether they fly or drive.

  • Nancy B.

    I know a lot of people have recommended it, but I’d be really worried about flying the dogs out on their own. I’ve heard so many horror stories of lost pets, dead pets, etc. Yours are so tiny, why not just fly them out with you. Buy a friend a ticket so they can help out. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/is-taking-your-pet-on-an-airplane-worth-the-risk-6241533/?no-ist

  • GVS

    You’re facing so much in such a condensed amount of time so it’s natural to feel overwhelmed! Breaking things down always works for me, so here are a number of ideas that just jumped out when I read your post: 1. Medical records. You own your medical records. Start now by asking all the doctors concerned to make copies of the records. If you offer to pay a copying fee, they will be less likely to balk, and if you give them enough time, it should be something they can do. Tell them the date you want to pick the records up. In addition to getting the full record copied, you could ask for the doctor to write a summary of care and then give them enough time to do it, but tel them when you will need to pick up the files. Some offices will say they prefer to send this info to your new doctors but if you haven’t moved yet and you haven’t chosen new doctors, it’s better to have your files in hand. 2. Selling the car: if getting it done in a matter of days is not feasible, why not have it shipped? If its value/age warrants donating it to a charity and getting the tax break, that might be a way to go. Most charities will pick up the car at a specified place/date. You get a nice tax deduction. 3. Pet transport: Check out Pet Airways. It might work better if you could leave the dogs with really trusted/paid people who would then take them to the airport for their flight. They would get to California after you arrive and you’d go pick them up at the airport. This is a hard call to make but it might work, especially if you have your heart set on the RV road trip which, if you can swing it, you shouldn’t pass up. But do remember that it doesn’t have to be a now-or-never issue. After you have settled in, you might take shorter road trips and the kids will be a little bit older and able to engage more. But it does seem like a great opportunity to make the most out of this journey that you are embarking on and try to take advantage of the move. Whichever you decide, you’ll do great. You seem like such an organized and accomplished person but also one that is able to roll with the punches and adapt to whatever comes along. The very best of luck to you–looking forward to reading about how you take the hurdles ahead of you!

    • Lindsay evans

      Just a heads-up, Pet Airways no longer exists. I would definitely never suggest sending your pets as cargo on one of the major airlines.

  • Elizabeth

    Jordan…GET THE RV. You will not regret it and will you ever really do it again??? My niece flew her dog from Denver to Chicago- no issues. In fact, call the airlines & talk to them about their process. Doing this is what convinced my niece it would be ok. You are so exactly right that this is a once in a lifetime deal. Or take the dogs with you in the RV. You can kennel them when you eat, tour, etc….?? Do it Jordan!!

    • jordanreid

      oh, if we do the RV we’re definitely taking the dogs with us. you think RV over car for sure???

  • OhThatLaura

    Just sending a virtual hug. Looks like lots of different advice offered already. You got this 🙂

    • jordanreid

      awwww thank you 🙂 🙂

  • Beffgus

    I have no useful advice, but am sharing this, which brightened my day. Thought you and Indy could have a blast with the idea: http://www.babble.com/style/i-let-my-toddler-dress-me-for-a-week-heres-what-happened/

    • jordanreid

      that is adorable, and i love it, and i totally may need to copy it.

  • dena

    I feel like your dogs might be pumped to sit in laps the whole trip really close to all of you and get out for walks a few times a day. I think it could actually work. Dogs are simple – they’ll just be thrilled they’re thisclose to the people they love all the time.

  • Karen

    I, too, made the 3,000 mile journey a while back. We had one dog and one cat. My husband and I drove cross country and once we made it to California, we flew the dog and the cat across the country (they stayed with relatives until this was possible). As it turns out, they were the only two animals on the plane and seemed to take the trip pretty well!! Keep in mind, you have to make sure they have the proper shots and paperwork. Also, you have to have someone on the East coast end take them to the airport and have them put on the plane. Then, you just pick them up when their flight lands. I think the cross country drive is a great experience. I say “Go for it!!” and “Good Luck”!!

  • Claire Jackson

    My boyfriend and I moved from Boston to San Francisco in 2013 and we had grand aspirations of driving across the country as well. It was also the middle of winter at the time and we quickly realized it was not the best idea! We packed up all our stuff in one of those POD things, (used our own locks and keys) had it sent by truck to SF where the company stored it for us until we found a place to live and then they delivered it to our front door. We still had the problem of getting our car to SF so we actually hired someone to drive it across the country for us! Best part? We got to pack it full to the brim of our stuff that didn’t go into the POD earlier including throwing on one of those Thule cargo boxes onto the roof rack. It was a legit car transport company, fully insured and everything. The guy left Boston on a Monday morning and showed up at my parents house in the Bay Area the following Friday. Just an idea maybe you haven’t thought of…! I’d be happy to dig up the car transport company we used if you’re interested! Best of luck to you!

  • Mara

    This is much simpler than you’re making it. I’ve uprooted my entire life, twice. 2 different countries in 2 different continents. I recommend finding the fastest, easier route, even if it’ll cost money. Why are you driving at all? Why not pay to ship your stuff and then fly with the kids and dogs? Dogs get transported via plane cross country (and across the globe) all the time. In fact, it’s easier for them to adjust after a short flight than being in a car or RV for days and days at a time. The idea of crossing the country with your family sounds great, until you get down to practical issues. Like the amount of time it’ll take. Being with 3 people 24/7 for however long it takes. I know we all love our families, but in a trip like this there’s 0 “me” time. You can’t block out that noise. Also, adjusting to a new city and new life is stressful enough as it is. Worry about that, not crossing the country in an RV like a vacation. With children that young, it’ll be difficult and they won’t remember it.I’m not someone that can handle that kind of stress and detail. And you don’t seem like you are either. So make your life easier, not more difficult.

  • M.D. Johns

    Mara made some good points in her post. Simplify!

  • Lisa

    Don’t give up on your road trip, it will be so worth it in the end. My husband, our two dogs, and I recently moved from PA to Hawaii. We drove across the country (with our dogs) in our jeep wrangler, towing a UHAUL trailer (after selling our home, a car, etc. so I can totally relate!). There are plenty of pet friendly hotels and you’d be surprised at the amount of pet friendly restaurants. Many places with out door seating will allow you to have your dogs at the table (assuming they are well behaved). Obviously, we did have to put our dogs on a plane to go from CA to HI and luckily we had a great experience with the airline (Alaska) and the dogs were fine, but to avoid anxiety, I’d recommend taking them in the car with you. Keep at it, you’ll figure it all out!

  • Moxie612

    Not sure if this is mentioned by anyone else, but have you thought about renting a house first instead of trying to buy? I’m one of the commenters who reached out to you when you announced you were moving, to share a bit about our Bay Area relocation from Connecticut, 3 years ago. We have found renting to be a great way to get to know the area first before committing to a very expensive purchase (the real estate market here is nuts….). Happy to share more tips about renting or towns — we are in Los Gatos and love it!

    • jordanreid

      you’re not going to believe this, but i read this comment literally while on hold for an apartment complex that does month-to-month rentals. i also called the moving company we’re thinking of using to price monthly storage. it’s getting super-complicated trying to negotiate the purchase a house prior to closing on our old one – and while i don’t love the idea of moving twice, that may just be the way we have to do it.

  • Samantha

    Two summers ago my husband and I relocated from Virginia to the Bay Area with our dog (no kids) in tow. We put all of our things in a POD which they drove there and stored for us until we arrived and set off on our road trip with the dog in the backseat of our little car. Best. Experience. Ever.

    We took the southern route and visited all of those insanely ridiculous roadside attractions (like the World’s Largest Dresser) as well as ones you’ve probably heard of before (Cadillac Ranch in Texas – the place where all of the half-buried Cadillacs are sticking out of the dessert) and ended the trip with a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. When you’re traveling with your pets, you kind of have to plan on outside and / or roadside attractions only since most places (Graceland, for example) don’t allow pets. We didn’t mind at all because there was more than enough to see and do. The app, Roadside America, helped us find lots of interesting places to visit.

    We took about 12 days to drive across the country and stayed in a decent hotel (or with friends!) every night (sometimes for 2 nights if we wanted to do a whole day somewhere – like the Grand Canyon). We tried not to do more than 6 or 7 hours of driving each day and we broke it up with stops at restaurants with outdoor seating (a must when traveling with pets) and those funky tourist attractions. The Food Network app was another fun thing to have – you could stop by some of the places that have been featured on Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives, $30 a Day and other popular Food Network shows. Also, the book (I know, old school) from AAA, Traveling with your Pet, was super helpful for hotel and restaurant recommendations.

    When we got there we had our car and our pet with us and everything in our POD waiting to be delivered. Hope this helped!

    • jordanreid

      great, great suggestions – thank you! i just ordered road trip USA (the book), but will definitely download the food network app and pick up the AAA book (i had it the first time i drove cross-country and it’s totally super helpful). Right now I’m thinking we may take Lucy with us since she’s older and very quiet and travels super well, and have a friend fly Virgil out a couple of weeks later.
      I am SO EXCITED for the grand canyon. I’m thinking…maybe book hotels at the major attractions where it might be tougher to get a room (santa fe, grand canyon, new orleans, etc) and then just find random motel 6s and such in between. do you think that sounds doable?

      • jordanreid

        oh, and re: the pod – a reader actually recommended a company called u-pack and i think we’re probably going to go with them; they’re pretty reasonable and the reviews are good.

        • Samantha

          I think either way you can’t go wrong. You pack it, they drive it and store it for you until you’re ready! Let me know if you need any tips on pet-friendly places out here. We originally moved to Menlo Park (near Stanford) and then to Mountain View after our year-long lease was up – we got very familiar with the Bay Area rental game. Rule 1: Be ready to pounce on a property you like…bring a blank check and rental resume to any open house you go to!

      • Samantha

        We booked everything in advance and I’m leaning toward recommending the same – when you’ve been on the road all day, it’s nice not to tack on an extra 30 minutes or so driving around looking for the nearest not-too-seedy, pet-friendly motel WITH a vacancy. On the other hand, you don’t have as much flexibility since deciding to stay an extra day somewhere could cost you a rebooking fee. We also had some friends at our halfway point (woo – Texas!) which was great since it was a free night and a chance to do laundry!

        The Grand Canyon was great and definitely worth two nights. We brought the dog (which was convenient / nerve wracking) and made a whole day of it. Staying in Flagstaff saved some money on the cost of a room. Santa Fe is also lovely and wonderful and I would recommend getting a donut from WHOO’s donuts – so delicious! And if you end up driving through Memphis, try to pass through in the morning so you can catch the marching of the ducks at the Peabody hotel.

        Taking a road trip can be so stressful when you’re planning but I promise you will be more than worth it in memories!

  • Claire

    Haven’t read the comments below but what about renting a van? You could go uber comfy and modern with technology hookups, etc. or go retro. Either way, you’ll have more room and get that extra car trip feel.

    Also, my dad shipped our cat via an airplane ride once as a child. We had moved from his house in Mississippi to my mom’s in New York. I’m sure there was some stress on the cat’s part but all was forgiven when he (Scooter) saw us.

    That leaves you with the problem of getting your Outback there, but it is a start.

    • jordanreid

      i can’t imagine anything that would make kendrick happier than driving a VW bus across the country, so that’s an idea. the only issue is that we wouldn’t be able to sleep in that, and i was hoping that the cost of a rental would be offset by the fact that we didn’t have to pay for hotels, but it’s definitely worth looking into.

  • Rose

    I didn’t read through all the comments so don’t know if it was mentioned earlier, but my husband and I drove cross country from NY to SF with our cat in the car and from what I understand, Motel 6s are all pet-friendly. It may not be the best in terms of luxury accommodations, but it got the job done!

    • jordanreid

      i’m totally on board with the motel six thing if we take our dogs.

  • My husband and I have done the cross country thing 3 times, all before our children were born, but I would do it with them again in a heartbeat (and I’m actually really hoping that happens within the next couple years because I miss the west coast!) Road trips are real actual adventures, with a car full like that you will undoubtedly have crazy moments where you think “why did we think this was a good idea?!”, but I think overall it is sort of magical. All that quality time in a confined space is really a wonderful thing in (in my experience). I can’t wait to see how this all plays out for you, so exciting! As far as advice, the first time we barely planned ahead because we thought it would be super easy to find cheap last minute places to stay, it always worked out, but it wasn’t that easy. We were however glad we didn’t book ahead because everything took longer than we’d imagined, our schedule ould have fallen apart. The second and third times were more planned out, with lots and lots of padding in the schedule. We did a mix of crashing with friends, camping, nice hotels and cheap motels. There are some really quirky places out there in the middle of the country! We also mixed it up with cities and national parks, 10 days was the shortest trip we made and we saw so much! I have friends who made the trip DC to LA in their station wagon with their 4 year old, 10 month old, cat, big dog, several house plants and a new au pair! You can do it!

    • jordanreid

      eee this got me so excited! we’re planning to do the same – mix of cheap hotels, a nice hotel or two, staying with friends. probably not camping, since i think we’ve nixed the RV in favor of driving our own car. we’ll put lots of padding in the schedule; that’s an excellent suggestion. i am SO EXCITED.

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