We packed up the U-Haul and off we went at six in the morning. It was a smooth seven hour ride to Washington DC, with no traffic and cheap gas in Pennsylvania. Then we hit problems. So, here are some lessons I learned from my move. (Note: They will apply equally to all the other rent-a-truck companies, not just U-Haul.)
Lesson #1. Time your trip right.
One thing you never want to do is bring a U-Haul through DC (or any major city, for that matter) during rush hour. Make sure you time your arrival and drop-off for off hours – even if it means cooling your heels at a highway rest stop outside the city for a while. For us, the drop off location was only 3 miles away, which turned into a 45 minute drive. My mother and I were both super stressed and tired by the time we got to the U-Haul place and could not have been happier to turn in the truck. (The U-Haul guy was extremely nice which ended our stressful ride on a positive note.)
Lesson #2. Your truck pick-up location may change.
Location changes are more likely if you are not living near one of their busy sites. While I had scheduled the pickup location to be a mile away from my house, they changes it the day before pick-up, because my preferred location did not have the truck available. This meant that I had to drive an additional 40 miles to pick the truck up.
Lesson #3. Do your research about how much your U-Haul can hold.
I underestimated the size of the U-Haul and could easily have fit in a lot more stuff and furnished my room a lot better than I did. Now my room in DC is somewhat bare, with a bed and dresser, and all my other furniture is gathering dust back at home.
Lesson #4. Drop off the truck at the destination.
Flying my mother back was the best and cheapest option. She didn’t have to drive the 7 hours back which allowed her to sit back and relax for the plane ride.
P.S. I was lucky to have the help of my reliable mom for the move, but before you decide to rely on the kindness of family and friends for your move, check out these pros and cons of that arrangement.
This post was originally published on August 21, 2014.