- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

I know the moving season is almost over, but some folks have written to me about their horror stories and have provided extra tips on moving this summer. I feel compelled to share them with you.

These aren't the typical tips, such as taking care of the dogs, cleaning the house, packing your undies and the like. Instead, they deal with the physical move or ways to make your move easier and less stressful, specifically for folks moving hundreds of miles.

• First, sell all that you can. Don't hang onto all the stored clothes, books, old records and other stuff just because you might need them someday. Have a yard or garage sale and just get rid of them. Besides freeing you from household items your children or grandchildren will throw away anyway once you have made that final move, eliminating extraneous items will put some road money in your pocket and save you money if you're hiring a moving company, which will charge by weight.

What you cannot sell, give to a charitable organization. All household items have some sort of value, and this value can be deducted from your income for tax purposes. Besides helping less fortunate families, you'll also cut your tax bill.

If you have grown children, have them come and get their own stuff and store it in their own basements or closets. You're their parents, not the managers of their personal storage facility.

• A couple weeks before you leave town, get your vehicles into the shop and have them looked over for the coming long trip.

Of special interest are the tires, antifreeze and water pump. If your tires wouldn't pass inspection, change them.

Flush your antifreeze to keep your vehicle operating cooler, and have the air conditioner checked if you're traveling during the hot months.

Also check the water pump. This is the instrument that pumps the coolant through your engine. No water pump, no coolant and, eventually, no engine.

• Check your auto insurance and homeowners insurance policies to make sure you have enough coverage for your trip between houses.

On the auto insurance, ask for a roadside-assistance rider if you don't have one already.

Many insurance companies offer this nifty coverage for just a few bucks.

If you break down during the trip, there's a 24-hour phone number to call for assistance, and then it's covered by your provider (depending on your deductible).

If you're moving yourself, find out from the insurance company whether you're covered for damage caused to a rental truck. If not, find out how you can get such coverage. If your company won't offer it, get it from the rental company.

Now that your home is going to be on the road for a few days, contact the homeowners insurance company and let it know you're traveling with all your earthly belongings.

Find out what you need from the company to cover you from point A to point B.

If the truck runs off the road or gets burglarized during the trip, who's going to pay for the damage to the truck and for the loss? In preparation for the trip, videotape your valuables and household items for a record of their condition.

If you fall into a mishap, you will have evidence to show the insurance company.

If you're hiring professional movers, ask about their coverage specifically what is and isn't covered and what kind of limitations the moving company has on coverage.

• As you leave the home front, cut off all utilities and transfer them over to the new house. There's nothing more frustrating than arriving at your new house to find you have no power no lights, no air conditioning or heating, no hot water and so forth. For help with transferring utilities, check MonsterMoving.com's Utility Center (www.monstermoving.com/Moving_and_Planning/Department/Utility_center/)

• Map out your trip. You may have driven this road several times, but designate someone as the chief navigator and, as I said, map out the trip. Online services (MapQuest.com or Maps.com) can help, but don't count solely on such services for your directions. They have failed many times and could turn your posse left when it should go right. Invest in some paper maps and know where they are once you hit the road.

If it's a long trip, plan some pleasant stops to ease the stress and give you a break.

M. Anthony Carr has written about real estate for the past 12 years. Send questions or comments by e-mail ([email protected]).

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