U-Haul trucks moving
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

What You Should Know About Moving Your Belongings On Your Own

Moving can be quite a stressful and traumatic experience in and of itself when the move is local, whether or not you decide to hire a moving company or implement the move yourself — but what if you are moving from one state in the United States to another? Now you have to think about travel, fuel, meals and other expenses.

What You Should Know About Moving Your Belongings On Your Own

You could hire a moving company, of course — but you really need to do your homework to avoid the horror stories some customers have experienced with lost or damaged belongings; or having items held hostage unless you agree to pay a rate usuriously higher than the one which you agreed to pay.

If you do hire a moving company to take care of the move for you and that company is indeed reputable, that can be a huge burden about which you do not have to think — especially if you are moving enough belongings to fill an entire house — but the process of hiring a moving truck versus renting a truck yourself for moving could arguably be equally as arduous.

However, I am going to generally focus on moving enough belongings to fill a room or two within the United States, as I have no experience in moving internationally; but I am hoping that the advice and tips I impart here will help you — no matter to where you plan on moving.

I had volunteered to handle the move for someone whose apartment is located in a state different from the one in which I am based; as well as for a friend of mine local to where I am based. From those and other experiences, here is a list of what you should know about moving your belongings on your own — or even helping with the moving of the belongings of someone else — without hiring movers to do the move for you.

Renting a Truck and Renting a Car are NOT the Same Experience

First, dispel the idea that renting a truck is the same experience as a typical car rental. It is not.

There is no shuttle bus to take you to your vehicle; and typically no fast track to an aisle where you can choose your vehicle — nor will you have a vehicle awaiting your arrival where you can just hop in and go. You will most likely have to stand in line with the other “peasants” — I use that word tongue-in-cheek — to get your rental processed. If you are fortunate, there will be no one ahead of you — but expect the process to still take at least 20 minutes.

Insurance coverage is different on renting a moving truck versus a typical rental car. You most likely will not earn frequent travel loyalty program points or miles unless you use an affiliated credit card; and speaking of credit cards…

Consider Purchasing Insurance

…none of the credit cards I possess included coverage for rental trucks even though they do provide coverage for typical vehicles from a rental car company; and more likely than not, your credit cards will similarly be unlikely to have insurance to cover rental trucks.

Check the primary coverage of your insurance on your automobile. If you only have basic insurance, chances are you will not be covered for any damage to a rental truck. If you are insured beyond the basic insurance, consult with your insurance provider to see if your policy will cover damage to rental trucks — and expect the answer to be highly unlikely.

Companies such as U-Haul could “scare” you into purchasing insurance. Read the last option pertaining to immediate reimbursement as a result of damage…

Source: U-Haul.
Source: U-Haul. Click on the graphic for a larger version.

…and it may be difficult to believe that one of those trucks would be worth up to $25,000.00; but that is what they say, according to the graphic shown above.

I have never been involved in an accident while moving with a rental truck — but that does not mean that I will never be involved in an accident. All it takes is once for an accident to occur — and when it does is not the time to figure out that perhaps I should have paid for additional insurance coverage.

Extra insurance coverage can be declined, as it is typically an option and not required — but then you are responsible for any costs associated with damage inflicted upon the rental truck.

Check the Competition

I had four companies from which to choose: U-Haul, Ryder, Budget and Penske.

Pricing of trucks is based on availability, believe it or not; and availability is based on timing and inventory. There is no one company which was consistently less expensive than the other.

For those reasons, it is critical that you thoroughly research your options — and be wary of the “small print” which could snag you in the end.

Scrutinize Truck Rental Rates and Compare

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Depending on the type of move you are about to do can depend on what you pay.

For example: let us say that you want to pick up a truck in Dallas in Texas on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 and return it in Nashville in Tennessee on Monday, January 18, 2016. You can pay $363.60 and get free unlimited mileage with a truck either 12 feet or 16 feet in length for the same price with Penske Truck Rental; whereas a rental truck with U-Haul will cost you $660.00 for a smaller truck only ten feet in length — but you only receive 787 free miles, not unlimited miles; and the truck must be returned a day earlier on Sunday, January 17, 2016.

Which would you choose for your one-way rental, based solely on cost?

If the rental is a local rental — let us use Fort Lauderdale as an example, to be rented on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 and returned the next day — you can pay $48.99 plus 93 cents per mile with a truck either 12 feet or 16 feet in length for the same price with Penske Truck Rental; whereas a rental truck with U-Haul will cost you $34.95 for a smaller truck only ten feet in length 0r $44.95 for a truck fifteen feet in length — but the cost per mile is 89 cents.

Now which would you choose for your one-way rental, based solely on cost?

Additional items — such as supplies, insurance coverage, and a refundable deposit — can throw more vagaries into these sample equations; so you must do exhaustive research to ensure that you are indeed getting a good deal on your truck rental.

Consider Your Travel Options

In the move from one state to another, I decided to purchase a one-way airfare — but before doing so, I wanted to check my options. Believe it or not, the lowest rate I found for a rental truck was also the most convenient. For that particular move, I chose Penske Truck Rental because I can pick up the rental truck at a participating Home Depot location — and not only was there one located within a 45-minute walk from the destination airport where I could pick up the truck; but there was also one within walking distance from where I am based. That beats having to figure out transportation on how to get to either the origination or destination rental locations in terms of time and money — and I enjoy walking, so I received a nice exercise as a bonus…

…and because both locations were within walking distance, I was able to maximize the amount of time I needed to rent the truck. I did not have to worry about transportation options, distance or traffic.

Do You Really Need Those Supplies?

Because I knew I had some large pieces of furniture to move in both cases, I knew I would need a hand truck. However, because I knew there was an ample supply of linens such as blankets and towels, I did not need furniture pads. I knew there were empty boxes at both domiciles from which the items were to be moved, so I did not need to purchase boxes; but in the past, I have been able to get used boxes at supermarkets and other stores for free. If you can arrange this, do not purchase boxes.

Choose your supplies and ancillary moving equipment carefully, as they could quickly add up in terms of cost — and you do not want to pay for something you wind up not using anyway.

Also, keep in mind that extra charges lurk when you rent supplies and ancillary moving equipment. For example, if you rent five blankets, you had better ensure that you return all five blankets — or you could be charged for any missing blankets. If a hand cart is damaged, you may be liable for that damage.

If possible, you are better off securing your own supplies and ancillary moving equipment — especially if you already own them; and certainly if you plan on using them after the move has been completed.

Research Discounts to Apply to Your Rental

Affiliations with organizations are one way to possibly secure a discount on the cost of your truck rental. For example, if you are a member of the American Automobile Association, your membership can be applied towards up to a discount of 20 percent on your truck rental with such companies as Penske Truck Rental.

Other discounts which may be available with Penske Truck Rental are a discount of ten percent for college students and discounts for military personnel.

If you cannot find any discounts or affiliations pertaining to a lower cost rental at the official Internet web site of the rental truck company, it never hurts to call and ask. You just might be surprised.

Consider Renting From a Traditional Rental Car Company

Depending on your situation, you may not need a moving truck. When no heavy or bulky furniture is involved, you just might be able to rent a van or a minivan from a traditional car rental facility — especially if you are renting locally and do not mind possible multiple trips to move everything.

While this is more of the exception than the rule in terms of upgrades, I once rented a full-size car to move some items despite being concerned that it might — just might — not be large enough. When I arrived at the counter, the agent practically begged me to take an oversized van instead for no extra charge. I never did understand why; but I cannot tell you how repeatedly thankful I was while I was loading it, realizing that the original car class I reserved would not have sufficed and was therefore a mistake on my part.

The grand total cost of renting that oversized van was $47.14 for three whole days — including all taxes and fees.

Yes — I seriously lucked out BIG time. The “secret” is to keep track of the calendars of the rental car industry, as companies are usually trying to entice renters to rent vehicles one-way into or out of a state. For example, you might see car rental rates as low as $9.95 per day if you plan on taking a car one-way out of Florida or Arizona during certain weeks in the springtime.

Again, that is a notable exception; but some rental car places may have vehicles which may be large enough to handle a move — even if you may have to go back and forth several times in order to move all of the items from one place to another, which would actually work better on a local rental than a long-distance rental…

…and you might qualify for discounts, elite level status perks, and credits to the frequent renter loyalty program with that rental versus renting a moving truck. Additionally, purchasing insurance coverage may not be required for this type of rental, as you may already be covered by either your primary automobile insurance policy; or by the credit card you use.

Discussions Amongst Frequent Fliers Pertaining to Moving

FlyerTalk members have been known to move all over the world to such cities as:

These are only a few of many discussions where FlyerTalk members ask for advice when moving; and you might be able to learn and benefit from their experiences by reading those dissuasions before embarking on renting a truck with which to move.


This is not meant to be a truly comprehensive guide on what you should know about moving your belongings on your own — for example, please refer to this article for tips and advice pertaining to packing for a move — as there are too many variables to classify anything as a definitive steadfast rule; but rather it is designed to let you know some of the significant impediments you will most likely encounter when moving with a truck which you rent…

…and as you become more involved in the process, a traditional car rental will seem like a virtual “cakewalk” in comparison.

However — once you have done your homework and actually rented the truck — the process does get easier…

…that is, if you do not include the actual move…

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!