We set out on a trip from Minneapolis to Phoenix in June to help our son move. We never imagined that we would be undertaking this relocation during a global pandemic and in one of the worst COVID-19 hot spots in the United States. We found that panning a long-distance move in this current environment takes a little more time and preparation.

Here are seven things we learned along the way.

1. Virtual Tours Are the Way to Go

My son did a virtual tour of his new Phoenix apartment from Minneapolis. Many apartment-rental companies and real estate agents are pushing for virtual or video showings to avoid contact during the health crisis. Meanwhile, in-person appointments are being held with as few people as possible. My son completed most of the paperwork for his apartment online.

2. Booking a Moving Pod or Cube Is a Good Option for a Cross-Country Move.

We had to decide between renting a moving truck and driving the 1,600 miles across the country—which sounded exhausting—or renting a pod and flying. We chose the pod route and had the moving container delivered right to our door. The paperwork was done online for a low-touch transaction.

3. Ask Moving Companies a Lot of Questions.

If you’re hiring a mover, (which we did not), most moving companies can offer an estimate by doing a virtual walk-through of your new place. Ask the moving company about its policy regarding any possible delays due to the pandemic and also about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and truck sanitization. Also, request contactless options where a mover picks up and delivers your belongings while you’re out of your house or apartment. Additionally, request a virtual payment option.

4. Renting Self-Storage May Mean Changes During COVID

My son’s items were stored for a couple of months prior to moving to Arizona in a Minneapolis-area self-storage unit. As a safety precaution due to COVID-19, we found a reduction in the number of customers who could access units at any one time. The storage company also followed stringent hygiene practices including sanitizing access pads.

5. Traveling During the Pandemic Can Be Challenging

If you need to book flights or hotels for your relocation, make sure to make refundable reservations or only deal with companies that offer free cancellations due to the many unknowns of COVID. However, expect some possible surprises along the way. We flew on a local, budget airline out of Minneapolis, and initially were told the middle seats would be blocked in an effort to promote social distancing. To our dismay, our flights were virtually full both ways.

5. Picking Up the Keys Can Be Done Contactless

When arriving at the apartment complex, my son needed to sign the lease in-person and pick up the keys. There was a sign on the management office door stating they were limiting capacity to eight people to maintain social distancing. To avoid unnecessary exposure, request the lease agreement be signed online with electronic signatures. Also ask whether the keys can be left in a key box at the complex that you could access with a code given to you on move-in day for a safer exchange.

7. Sanitizing Your Unit is Essential

Although your apartment should be thoroughly cleaned prior to move-in, you still want to disinfect it during the health crisis, following the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for household cleaning and sanitizing.

With some careful planning and knowing the right questions to ask, you should have no problem moving safely across the country – even during a pandemic.

Liz Wolf