U-Haul Moving - How to Make it Easier

This Hub could be subtitled "John & Joanne's Excellent Adventure" It's a summary of what we learned moving a friend from Virginia to Connecticut via U-Haul truck & trailer rental.

U-Haul Moving Basics

Here are a few basics about moving with U-Haul.

  • Make your reservation for a truck or trailer as early as possible via UHaul Online
  • If you're not sure which you'll need (truck or trailer), reserve both and cancel the un-needed one as soon as you are sure.
  • Take their advice for size of truck or trailer, but remember - they are counting on you packing everything VERY tightly and efficiently.
  • Reserve a hand-truck or two and some furniture dollies as well as furniture pads
  • Confirm your pickup location and time 24 hours in advance

Reserve the Right Size Truck

We started our adventure thinking we would use a 6 x 12 foot cargo trailer from U-Haul, but we had trouble getting the hitch onto our car, so we decided to switch to a truck.

Based on the U-Haul recommendations, we chose a 10 foot truck which should be good for a Studio/1 Bedroom apartment.

However, we forgot to account for the fact that our friend was moving from a 2 bedroom apartment into a 1 bedroom and that some things would need to be stored.

As this was an out of town move, and we were doing a 1 way rental, all the stuff needed to get here to Connecticut, but only some of it was going to the ultimate destination of the new apartment.

By the way, U-haul's 1 way rental prices include 3 days and based on the locations they will estimate the mileage required.

After discovering our mistake, we tried to get a bigger truck when we checked in at the Lynchburg U-Haul, but as the last weekend in June is practically the busiest time of year for U-Haul, we were told there were no trucks available.

But then, at the last minute, Josh (the manager) recalled that he had someone getting a 14 foot truck who really wanted a 10 foot truck and was able to swap our reservations! Our guardian angels were watching out for us!

Packing Tips

When you're packing, the important things to remember are:

  • Group items of similar size and weight
  • Put a layer of padding (packing peanuts) in the bottom of the box
  • Heavier items on the bottom, lighter on the top
  • Cushion the entire package to prevent shifting and breakage
  • Try not to pack heavier than 30 lbs per box
  • Close, Seal and Label

How to effectively load your truck

This was the part where my brain started to freeze up... thank goodness I am married to an engineer! He was able to survey the furniture and boxes and puzzle together the best way to load it all into the truck. It was all snugged in tightly and didn't move or shift during the drive at all.

More tips from U-Haul on loading your truck:

  • Pack for a tight, evenly distributed load!
  • Place the heaviest pieces in a row across the floor and build a lighter second or third row on top of that.
  • Use pads for the tops of cartons or blocks under furniture with legs to balance the load
  • Protect all delicate areas (eg. front and back of a TV)

How to Trailer your Car

If you need to trailer your car behind the truck, U-Haul offers options to help you decide which vehicle transport to use. We decided on the auto transport, a flatbed, vs. a tow dolly.

You need to wait until AFTER your truck is loaded before going back to U-Haul to get the auto-transport hooked up and the car strapped in. This is because you definitely don't want to be loading your truck with a hitch attached to it.

The process is simple and the U-Haul staff was very helpful. However, be ready for feeling like you're a tractor trailer driver. A full 14 foot truck towing a 5000+ lb car is a BIG load!

U-Haul Emergency Road-side service:

1-800-528-0355

If you have trouble...

The only major "bump in the road" we hit was when, 20 minutes outside of Lynchburg, one of the trailer tires had a blowout. John could barely believe it when he looked out the side-view mirror and saw black chunks of the tire tread flying off behind him.

This is the one part of the story where I was disappointed in U-Haul. They estimated that road-side help would be there in an hour, and instead it took 2 hours.

But once help arrived, the tire replacement was completely quickly and we were back on the road again.


Truck Instructions

Here are some instructions from U-Haul on using a Truck:

  • Always set the packing brake when parking
  • Get help (extra eyes!) before you backup
  • Never overload the truck
  • Drive slowly - 55 MPH speed limit, especially if you have a trailer
  • Make sure you have enough overhead clearance.

A tractor trailer crashed into the West Street Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.
A tractor trailer crashed into the West Street Bridge on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. | Source

Moving Checklist

  • Pick up Truck
  • Fill Truck with Stuff
  • Pick up Trailer, load car onto trailer
  • Drive, drive, drive.
  • Unload car, drop off trailer
  • Unpack truck
  • Drop off truck
  • Hooray! You're done!

Make sure you have enough overhead clearance.

Lucky for us, we know the Danbury area and were able to make inquiries about a certain railroad bridge in town to find out if we would be able to drive the truck underneath the bridge when we returned it. I called the local U-Haul to inquire, but they didn't know the height of the bridge(!?)

Then I called the police department, figuring if we got into trouble, they would be called to help us out.

The police were able to inform me that the bridge in question is only 10 ft 7 inches and would not be tall enough for the truck to pass safely under. Disaster averted!

And that's it. The end of our Excellent Moving Adventure.

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