What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.

Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.

Basically, moving containers are portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.

Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.

They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.

Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.

What Do They Look Like?

It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.

Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?

PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.

What Are the Differences Between Companies?

PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.

People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.

If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.

How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments. 

Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.

How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:

How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?

When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.

In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.

Where Am I Moving To and From?

As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.

For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)

Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.

When Would I Use a Moving Container?

Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.

Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.

How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?

Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.

You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.  

But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.

That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.

About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.

Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?

Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!

Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.  

Where Should I Start?

  • The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
  • The second step is to call up the sales representatives to get the low down on their availability, find the best fit for you, and book it!
  • The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.

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With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.

The Best Way to Unpack After Moving

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Unpacking should be the best part of the entire moving process. No, really!

You’ve already coordinated all of the logistics of renting a truck and hiring Helpers, you’ve packed everything up, moved, and unloaded your rental truck. Now all that’s left to do is go through all of your boxes and get everything in its place so you can enjoy your new home!

So why do some people still dread unpacking? Well, imagine sitting amiongst a mountain of boxes with no clue what’s inside any of them or where everything is going to go. Okay … yeah, that does sound pretty dreadful. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By planning your unpack, you can save time, money and headaches.

How to Make Unpacking Easier Before Moving Day Happens

We all know the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The most important step to a smooth unpacking experience is proper planning before your move. 

Of course, you’ll have some planning to do if you’re getting movers and renting a truck … but you still need to spend some time packing. And no, we’re not talking about randomly throwing items into boxes and calling it a day.

Here are some things you should do before moving day to make unpacking easier.

Take Photos Before You Start Packing

Before you touch anything, we want you to take out your phone and have a little home photo shoot. 

Here are things you especially need photos of:

  • Bookshelves
  • The back of your TV
  • Kitchen drawers
  • Desk area
  • Tool shed

We urge you to snap pics of the areas in your home that you love! We know all too well how long it can take to get a shelfie looking just the way you want it. By snapping some reference pics now, you’ll be able to replicate that new look in your home in no time.

Create a Number and Color-Coded System For Your Boxes

After the photo shoot, gather all of your packing supplies (boxes, paper, tape, scissors, markers … the works!) and start packing boxes like a pro.

Try to only pack up items from one to two rooms inside every box. This will make your life much easier when it’s time to unpack later.

Got a bunch of stuff on shelves? Create a numbered system to remember where everything goes. That way it’s easier to get them unpacked and into their new permanent spots.

And we can’t forget our favorite tip of all … our color-coded box systemWith this technique, you get to use our most beloved crafting tool—washi tape! Get the full instructions from this post, but the short version is that you need to separate your boxes by the room, marked with bright washi tape so your movers know exactly where to deliver them. Genius and oh so colorful!

Make it Much Easier to Unpack Essentials

There are 7 items you’ll want to have on hand for moving day, but we also think you should create a box of moving day essentials. Because imagine the night of moving day when you’re tearing open boxes trying to find pajamas, your toothbrush, and your medication for the night. Sounds like a disaster to us.

This is what should go in your “Moving Day Box” so you don’t have to tear through your moving truck:

  • A change of clothes
  • Utensils
  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions
  • Phone charger

Be sure to label this box and keep it near you!

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Clean The 5 Most Important Things

We know you have approximately 10,000 things to do to get your rental deposit back. But trust us, now is the time to give your new place a thorough cleaning because it’s empty. You simply put items in place rather than cleaning and unpacking at the same time. Want to know the five most essential things to clean?

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • The Refrigerator (and refrigerator fan)
  • Bathtub and any tub jets
  • Outside (and Inside) the stove
  • Washing machine

If you want to know more, click here.

Unpacking Tips

You’ve done the prep work (even the cleaning, you rockstar, you!), and now moving day is here! Even if you hired help for your unload (great call), there are still things you can do to make unpacking time a little easier. 

Place Your Boxes in Rooms by Color

It may sound easier to just have your Helpers pile up all of the boxes in one spot of your new place, but unpacking will be a lot easier if you follow your color-coded box system to get each box in the correct room. If you followed our washi tape tips, you should have each door in your new place marked so the Helpers can easily drop the box in the right spot!

Protip: Get your “Moving Day Essentials Box” opened right away so you have everything you need to make it through the next day or two.

Use Washi Tape to Figure out Your Furniture Layout

As long as your movers are there, have them get your furniture in the spot where you want it! We love the idea of using painter’s tape to mark out the layout of furniture right on the floor.

Before you move (or even while your movers are bringing things in and out),  go around your place and put tape on the ground to outline your furniture. That way the movers will know exactly which wall to put your bed on and where that long dresser goes. You can always move things later on, but getting items in the correct space will make your life a lot easier in the coming days.

Unpack the Bathrooms and Bedrooms First

Moving day will be exhausting, so if you’re going to unpack anything immediately, make sure it’s your bed and bedding. Once your movers get the mattress into place, find the sheets, comforter and pillow and make your bed. If you have kids, do theirs too. Having a comfy spot to sleep at the end of the long day will feel amazing!

Unpack your bathroom boxes too. That way you’ll have all of the toiletries and medications on hand for the night and morning. A fresh shower after a long day of moving will be heavenly, trust us!

Save the Kitchen for Tomorrow

The kitchen is the most time intensive room to unpack, due to the amount of tiny and heavy items, so don’t unpack it on moving day. Your brain will be tired by the end of moving day, and you’ll want to be refreshed and recharged before you tackle this space. Save the kitchen until morning when you can make a fresh pot of coffee.

How to Stay Organized After Moving Day

You’re into your new home and you’re surrounded by all of your possessions. First, take a deep breath. You’ve made it this far! Now it’s time for the actual fun part … making your house a home.

Avoid Distractions, Don’t Unpack Games or TV

We might suggest making a playlist of music to entertain you, but we don’t think you should get your TV setup and turned on right away. You may find yourself sitting on the couch instead of unpacking if you have a TV show or movie on. So much temptation…

Another distraction? Little ones. You’ll additionally want to make a plan for your pets when you’re moving and unpacking, so they don’t get in the way. Same goes for kids. Have a plan to keep them occupied or if you can, drop them off at grandma’s house so you have uninterrupted time to unpack. It’s all about keeping the distractions to a minimum so you can devote enough hours to get your house in tip-top shape!

Unpack Only One Room at a Time

Instead of hopping from space to space, we suggest making a list of your rooms in order of importance. Then, don’t move onto another space until the one you’re on is done.

The kitchen, bedrooms and kids’ rooms should be up high on the priority list, while the guest room and garage may not need TLC right away. Also, make sure you have furniture and appliances setup before you get too carried away going through boxes. Did you clean your counters first? You’ll want to have spots to put all of the items as you whip them out of the boxes, so having dressers and cabinets ready to go is a must!

Break Down Boxes as You Go, in Real Time

As you unpack boxes, it may be easy to just throw empty ones in a big corner. But trust us, that pile will quickly get out of control and soon you won’t be able to walk around your house without an empty box tumbling down on you. Take one box and make it the designated paper box. As you unpack boxes, crumple up the paper and shove it into that box. Then, be sure to break down boxes as you unpack. You’ll want to have a utility knife on hand so you can do this quickly.

(And Don’t Unpack Everything)

There may be some boxes that don’t actually need to be unpacked. We’re looking at you, Christmas decorations. Make a large pile of items that may be heading to storage or the garage. Then be sure to get those items to that space in the coming days.

What to Do After You’re Unpacked

You’ve made it! You survived moving day and every box in your place is unpacked. You should be feeling pretty darn good about yourself right about now, but the fun isn’t over just yet. There are still a few things you can do to really get your unloading and packing done.

Make Use of Those Moving Boxes

If you will be moving again soon, then you may want to hang onto some of the boxes that are still in good condition. Organize your boxes and find a spot to neatly tuck them away. Are you thinking, “What the heck do I do with all of that cardboard?!” Don’t fret! Instead, try out some of the cardboard hacks.

If getting creative with cardboard isn’t your speed, you can recycle your moving boxes. Check out this searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything (including moving boxes!). Just be sure to set a deadline for yourself to get those moving boxes out of your new place, so they don’t stay piled in the garage forever.

Use These Organization Protips

We’re all guilty of just shoving random items into a cabinet or closet and calling it a day. But to really feel settled in your new home,  be intentional with what goes where.

Whenever we’re on an organization spree, we go room by room with a notepad and write down areas that need our attention. Then we’ll spend 30 minutes each night giving those spots some TLC. Those short increments of time seem much more doable than an entire day spent organizing an entire home.

Let the Decorating Begin! (In a Month)

We always say that you need to live in your home for a while in order to decorate it well. So many people quickly buy furniture and accessories for their place without ever giving each room a test run, and they end up with design regret. Yep, don’t paint the walls until you’ve spent a little time in your new place!

We promise that you’ll make much smarter decor decisions after 2-3 months.

Here’s how to get started when it’s time to begin: 

It may not seem like it, but unpacking can be the best part of the moving experience! We promise that these tips will make your unpacking experience easier and more efficient.

The sooner you unpack, the sooner you can enjoy your new life!

Every Major Moving Report of 2017 Analyzed: Where Is Everybody Going?

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Migration reports are out in full force, including the famous United Van Lines yearly report.

But while United handles more moves annually than any other mover network in the country, their numbers are not definitive across the industry board.

North American, Atlas and Allied all see slightly – and in some cases, wildly – different results in their migration study results. Not a surprise, because as a Full Service move provider, United handles a somewhat different clientele compared to companies like ABF, U-Haul and PODS – companies whose numbers might look a lot different. Then there’s that little thing called the Census.

Yep, the state-to-state migration numbers for 2017 are out – and folks, we have new inbound state championsHere are the results:

United Van Lines

Vermont Takes United 2017 Inbound Crown

In 2015 they came in at third on the inbound rankings. In 2016 they inched their way up to number two. Now, this tiny state known mainly for skiing and maple syrup has captured the coveted top inbound spot on United’s 2017 National Movers Study.

Yes, the champagne is indeed flowing like syrup in Stowe, Killington and Montpelier as Vermont looks back on a year that saw a whopping 68% of their interstate moves coming in. 

Reasons

According to United’s survey, “family” was the most common reason respondents gave for relocating to the Green Mountain State. Retirement, lifestyle and job also figured fairly evenly into the equation.

On the other hand, a full 75% of people moving out of state gave employment as their reason. This helps explain why half of all outbounders fell into the Under-35 age category – and another 25% were between 35 and 45 – while 40% of those moving into the state were 65 or older.

Those mountains may be green, but with those unemployment numbers, it looks like the valleys are starting to turn gray.

But before we start replacing all those ski lifts with wheelchair-friendly escalators, let’s take a step back and look a little closer at where the stats behind Vermont’s inbound crown come from. Keep in mind we don’t know how many moves Vermont actually saw by their report. (68% can be broken down to 17 inbound moves and 8 outbound moves – which hardly amounts to a mass migration to this land of wooden bridges and Bernie Sanders.)

Inbound:

1. Vermont
2. Oregon
3. Idaho
4. Nevada
5. South Dakota
6. Washington
7. South Carolina
8. North Carolina
9. Colorado
10. Alabama

This past year saw some familiar names on United’s Top Ten Inbound States list. Oregon, Nevada and North Carolina are all there, as they have been every year since 2011. Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina and Arizona are also back after making 2016’s inbound list. Newcomers include Alabama and Colorado. Meanwhile, Florida has dropped off the inbound list after a strong three-year run.

This past year’s top inbound states are also fairly spread out around the country. The same cannot be said about United’s outbound states.

Outbound:

1. Illinois
2. New Jersey
3. New York
4. Connecticut
5. Kansas
6. Massachusetts
7. Ohio
8. Kentucky
9. Utah
10. Wisconsin

As with the previous few years, the major exodus seems to be coming out of the Northeast and the Midwest, with Utah adding a little “outbound yellow” to the otherwise blue western region on United’s interactive migration map.

Perennial outbound states New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois have been the most unfortunate ones; we’d have to go back to 2010 to see any of them as balanced. (New York and Connecticut were both spared the shame that year).

North American Moving Services

northamerican.com

Arizona Takes North Americans 2017 Inbound Crown

North American’s inbound champ is Arizona, with 67% of their interstate moves coming into the Grand Canyon State. Other top inbounders not on United’s list include Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Texas – all south and southeast states. (Those North American drivers must really love the south.)

Inbound:

  1. Arizona
  2. Idaho
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. California
  5. Michigan

Like United, North American has Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut at the top of their outbound list (with New York a notable #8). But the rest of their top outbounders – California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Maryland (#4-8 on the map) aren’t even on United’s radar.

Interestingly, North American’s #10 outbounder is Washington, which ranks #6 on United’s inbound list.

In accounting for these discrepancies, it is worth noting what North American says of their report’s methodology:

We define the top inbound and outbound states as those that have the highest proportion of moves where the absolute value difference of inbound and outbound moves is greater than or equal to 400. This weeds out states that had a small number of moves but would have a high ratio of inbound/outbound moves.”

This may explain why United’s 2017 champ Vermont and #5 South Dakota (United’s #1 in 2016 by the way) aren’t anywhere on North American’s Top Ten.

Atlas Van Lines

atlasvanlines.com

Washington Takes Atlas 2017 Inbound Crown

Atlas Van Lines offers some relative surprises too. Idaho, Washington and Nevada as their top three inbounders may not raise any eyebrows. But Alaska, Maine and New Hampshire at #5, #6 and #10? Oregon is a familiar name, but seeing them at #8 seems in contrast to their recent United Van Lines inbound championships.

Atlas’s top outbounder, meanwhile, is Illinois (same as both United and North American – those Fighting Illini have a real stranglehold on that top spot!). And their #2, West Virginia, was a strong outbounder for United for six years straight before balancing out in 2017.

But Nebraska at #3? Nebraska has been balanced for United since 2001! And #4 outbounder South Dakota has been an inbound darling for United the past three years.

Rounding out the Atlas top outbound list are Hawaii, Indiana, Delaware and Louisiana, all of them somewhat surprising since three of them have spent the last ten years on United’s “balanced” register. Only Indiana has managed to make a blip on United’s outbound radar in that time frame.

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Washington
  3. Nevada
  4. Tennessee
  5. Alaska
  6. Maine
  7. North Carolina
  8. Oregon
  9. Alabama
  10. New Hampshire

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. West Virginia
  3. Nebraska
  4. South Dakota
  5. Hawaii
  6. Indiana
  7. Delaware
  8. New York
  9. Louisiana
  10. Kansas

In contrast to the percentages United and North American provide, Atlas gives actual numbers of inbound and outbound moves for each state. Here we see that Vermont has seen just a fraction of the moves so many other states see, so it’s easy to imagine why they wouldn’t have made it onto North American’s list. (Meanwhile, once again, Canada’s Yukon Territory has seen zero moves. We’ll blame it on the roads.)

Allied Van Lines

allied.com

Florida Takes Allied 2017 Inbound Crown

Allied Van Lines keeps it all very short and sweet. They report only their top fives:

Inbound:

  1. Florida
  2. Arizona
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Texas

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. New Jersey
  5. Michigan

Based on this limited report, we’re able to come to at least one solid conclusion: Allied’s drivers love moving people south even more than North American’s do.

U-Haul

Texas Takes U-Haul 2017 Inbound Crown

Because news outlets predominately focus on Full Service van lines, it can easily be argued this eliminates an entire sector of the migrating public. (In fact, Full Service van lines actually conduct less than half of all moves performed in the US every year.)

Do U-Haul’s numbers reflect what the van lines suggest are moving trends?

Nope.

Inbound:

  1. Texas
  2. Florida
  3. Arkansas
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Washington
  7. North Carolina
  8. Connecticut
  9. Colorado
  10. Vermont

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Michigan
  5. Massachusetts
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Arizona
  9. Maryland
  10. Georgia

Texas tops U-Haul’s 2017 Growth States list. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as Texas has fared well recently in the inbound-outbound game. In 2017 their inbound percentages with United, North American and Atlas were 54, 53 and 53, while Allied put Texas down as their fifth biggest inbound state.

Oddly, Texas won U-Haul’s Growth State crown by bringing in – get this – a whopping 50.3% of all one-way truck rental traffic crossing Texas’s borders. That’s right. Fifty. Point. Three.

This hardly lends a whole lot more understanding to the migration trends we’re trying to dissect. But here we are, so let’s keep moving.

U-Haul rounds out its top five Growth States with Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, Arkansas – which has been balanced on United’s report 37 of the last 40 years. Then again, Arkansas remained balanced in 2017 on United’s ledger with a 54% outbound rate, so that they are U-Haul’s #3 Growth State is rather surprising no matter how minuscule their positive U-Haul balance might have been.

And who comes in at #8 on U-Haul’s list? That big loser with United and North American (but not with Atlas), Connecticut.

On the flip side, U-Haul has Colorado at #9 – exactly where United and North American have them.

United States Census Bureau

Idaho Takes United States Census Bureau 2017 Inbound Crown

Yes, the Bureau has all the moving numbers we could possibly want. So many, in fact, that it could take until next January to weed through them all.

But thanks to Business Insider we don’t have to.

In this piece with the strangely long title: While the Bureau considers “a variety of components” in determining what’s happening among the more than 325 million people who make up the US population, Business Insider brings us what we need: domestic migration.

Here we see the net population gain or loss for each state for 2017. Births, deaths and international immigration are not counted; this is simply and strictly an account of how many people moved into or out of each state. (Again, not moves, but individual people.)

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Nevada
  3. South Carolina
  4. Oregon
  5. Arizona
  6. Washington
  7. Montana
  8. Florida
  9. Colorado
  10. North Carolina

And in this, the winner is Idaho, with a net domestic migration gain of 14.6 people per 1,000 residents. In second place comes Nevada, with South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona rounding out the top five. The second half of the big ten winners are Washington, Montana, Florida, Colorado and North Carolina.

These results actually mirror the van lines’ findings to a striking degree. Only Arizona, Montana and Florida don’t show up in United’s top ten. Seven of the Census top ten are also on North American’s top ten. Unbelievably, Colorado is #9 on all three lists.

As for the Net Domestic Migration losers? Yes, Illinois is up there, but at #5, maybe this is the survey they should be talking about in Chicago.

Outbound:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Alaska
  3. New York
  4. Hawaii
  5. Illinois
  6. North Dakota
  7. New Jersey
  8. Connecticut
  9. Louisiana
  10. West Virginia

The big loser in the 2017 migration tournament is Wyoming, a surprise since the Equality State doesn’t show up on any van line outbound lists – or inbound for that matter. United had them at 53% inbound for 2017. North American had them at 54% in. Only Atlas has them as outbound – based on a grand total of 330 moves.

The Bureau’s next three biggest net migration losers are Alaska, New York and Hawaii. Alaska and Hawaii, neither of which show up anywhere for United or North American, are Atlas’s #5 inbound and #5 outbound, respectively. North Dakota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and West Virginia complete the Bureau’s top ten.

Again, while there are outbound wild cards, we still see some consistency between the Bureau and the van lines. Atlas and the Bureau actually have seven migration losers in common between their top tens. Looking at the US Census Bureau’s Net Domestic Migration map we can clearly see the winners clustered in the south and west with the losers dominating the northeast and midwest.

What’s The Takeaway?

Remember, the numbers put together by each of the van lines represent the migration trends among the customers they’ve served. Van lines count moves, the Bureau counts people.

This may not account for the reason United’s inbound champion Vermont is somehow a net loser according to the Census Bureau’s numbers, but it does suggest that, despite the discrepancies, the van lines and the Census Bureau can give a decent overall on what is going on out there.

But in the cases where data remains too contradictory to be meaningful, evaluating regions rather than individual states might give us a slightly more reliable picture of the migration trends playing out across the US. At the end of the day, we are only looking at a mere slice of the American migratory pie.

There’s More Realistic Data Out There

We need another, more encompassing way to look at where America is moving to and from.

DIY Moves and Hybrid Moves (besides U-Haul), which by far and away are the more common ways to move, are sorely misrepresented. When you move, do you routinely call up $2,000+ movers? Have you ever saved money by having your friends move you? What are these Full Service reports actually reflecting?

That’s something to keep in mind when the local news sounds off on “moving trends” based off a single Full Service Moving company’s report. 

6 Reasons Why Planning Your Summer Move in the Winter Saves You Money

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My wife thought I was nuts. It was only the end of February, but I was already hauling in piles of used boxes so I could start planning my move. “We’re not moving until the end of June!” she cried, visions in her head of sleeping on the floor between stacks of cardboard boxes, I guess.

I told her I knew what I was doing and disappeared into the basement. And in fact, I did.

There are plenty of understandable reasons not to start planning your move four months ahead of time. But those reasons don’t seem so smart when you suddenly realize you’re moving in three days. 

If you’re looking to move sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day (along with about 20 million other people) you have even more reason to get a jump-start on things. These are the most practical reasons why.

Researching the Right Things

There is one major reason people end up with crappy movers – or in some cases end up getting scammed by people posing as movers: They didn’t do their homework before hiring them.

What does “homework” mean?

  • Find and read real reviews on your local moving company
  • Look up a moving company’s Better Business Bureau rating
  • Research if a mover is a legally registered transporter of household goods

Particularly if you are moving in the summer (seriously, literally millions and millions of people move between June and August), you want to give yourself time not only to find the right movers – i.e., movers who will treat you right – but you don’t want to miss out on hiring the movers that would have been perfect for you because somebody beat you to it. If you think hiring movers could be expensive, you should see how much hiring bad movers could end up costing you …

You might love our:

Moving Cost Calculator

If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

And true, you may not know several months in advance exactly what day you’ll be moving. But don’t wait until a week before you’ve written “Moving!” on your calendar to start doing your homework. Get on it!

Your Sales-Rep Walk-Through

As the summer approaches, moving company sales representatives are just as busy as movers. Sometimes they’re even busier. But having a grasp of what you need ahead of time will prevent from your two-hour move turning into a six-hour one.

Conventional wisdom says you should get at least three in-home estimates if you want an estimate you can be fairly confident in. If you wanted to be absolutely thorough by price and quality, you not only need to find three solid moving companies, you need to find times that work for their three sales reps and for you. The closer you are to move day, the busier you will be. The closer it is to summer the busier they will be.

The good thing is, you don’t have to know when you’re moving to get your estimate.

You do, however, have to know what you will be moving. Of course, you can make some changes down the road if need be. Just be sure to communicate these changes ahead of time, not on move day!

Protip: Your sales rep might notice things you wouldn’t even think about, like the fact that the big office desk you assembled in the spare room isn’t going to fit out the door, or that your massive fish tank will probably need to be crated.

Having the luxury of time to get these unexpected extras taken care of may prove to be a lifesaver.

Creating a Rapport With Your Mover

If you want to be efficient, you don’t want a bunch of perplexed strangers showing up on moving day.

While you won’t have much to worry about if you hire movers through HireAHelper (after 70,000 5-star reviews, we can say things like that), getting to know each other before the actual move day creates a good vibe for both parties. More than this, having time to ask questions and bring up concerns helps your movers prepare for the job ahead. 

By the same token, you can expect your movers to be as busy as you are in the lead-up to your move. Say hello, let them know what you need, let them know you appreciate it, and then step back and let them do their thing. 

Likely a Better Rate

We can’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll end up paying more if you hire your movers in the middle of May rather than the middle of March, but we are dead-certain you won’t save yourself any money by waiting until the last minute to book your movers. Unless of course the only movers left available are sketchy guys with a string of bad reviews. 

If you’re a couple months ahead of the game you’ll likely also get a much better deal on your rental truck. And your chances of nailing down the right size truck for your move also goes way up. (If you do find yourself having trouble scoring a rental truck check the tips we offer in this post.)

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

Avoiding Last-Minute Expenses

As move day approaches you’ll be going absolutely nuts tackling a thousand last-minute tasks, from canceling utilities to meeting with your landlord/realtor, to cleaning your apartment well enough to get your deposit back to getting all that non-perishable food to the soup kitchen. It will be in these final frenzied hours and days that you’ll be glad you got a three-month head start.

Packing Costs and Timing

Even if you book your movers (and your rental truck) early, if you have a decent amount of stuff and you’re moving a fair distance, you’re going to have to shell out a good chunk of change for

That’s simply the nature of the beast.

Protip: But while there may be nothing you can do about how far you have to move, you just might feel extra motivated to lighten your load by getting rid of all the stuff you know you don’t really need. (You might also feel a sudden urge to save some bucks by packing up the entire house yourself. Both are easier when you have a bigger window to work in.)

We do guarantee, by the way, that once you start packing, you’ll realize that you have about three times as much stuff as you thought and it’s going to take you quadruple the time.

Yep, if you’re like me, you’ll likely be so tired that you’ll have no problem sleeping on the floor between those stacks of cardboard boxes. But just to be safe, pack your bed last.

‘Move For Hunger’ Saved 2.4 Million Pounds of Food From People Moving in 2017

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Move For Hunger is a charitable organization dead-set on fighting two unbelievable stats: 42 million Americans (many children) are food insecure, and 40% of all food grown, processed and transported in the United States is wasted.

Move For Hunger recently released their annual report. Inside, it dissects the way both of those statistics are being brought down simply by

connecting the dots. What they target hits home for us as, unfortunately, a huge chunk of food loss occurs during peoples’ moves. From Adam Lowy, their executive director:

Our network, which now includes 840 moving companies, delivered 2.4 million pounds of food last year, more than we ever have before. We organized a record number of food drives, which helped to raise awareness about hunger in hundreds of communities all across the United States and Canada. We launched our Apartment Community Program, and provided thousands of renters in Seattle and San Francisco with the opportunity to donate their food when they move. And, in the final days of December, we recorded another major milestone by delivering our 10 millionth pound of food.

To recap their 2017, that’s:

  • 840+ movers now contributing
  • 300,000 pounds of food going to victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico
  • 4,899 pounds of food saved from apartment communities
  • 4,536 pounds of food saved from corporate housing
  • 204,153 pounds of food from racing events

All of that good comes in addition to the plethora of personal donations that have come their way, both of food and currency. And the best part about helping them to connect the dots is that you have to do next to nothing to join in. Just ask your mover if you can donate the extra food from your pantry.

You can check out this video to see how Move For Hunger works.

In Australia, Development of Self-Driving Vehicles Being Slowed by Kangaroos

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The drive to develop automated vehicles, “AV” for short, has gone into high gear this past year. From the US to Europe to Asia, AV technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. But in one place the road to automation has taken an interesting turn.

Recognition Technology

A huge factor in the production of safe automatic vehicles involves the development of reliable recognition technology. Vehicles need to be able to distinguish which objects in front of them are hazards (like pedestrians) and which are not (think tumbleweed). A major function of recognition technology, then, is to focus on the shape and movement of various potential hazards to determine what they are – and that has brought advancements in AVs recognizing animals like deer, elk, and moose. (We’re not sure about rabbits and chipmunks.)

But in Australia engineers seem to be stumped by one of their own: the kangaroo.

Our friends over at Marketplace explain that “Kangaroos are much trickier – faster and more shape-shifting – than other animals that wander onto the road.” Deer and moose are big and generally move slowly, adds University of Washington computer scientist Pedro Domingos, making them easy for a vehicle’s vision system to recognize them as such.

Kangaroos, on the other hand, jump across the road much more quickly, keeping low and essentially changing shape as they hop, which makes it harder for the vehicle’s computer vision system to understand that “Yes, this is a kangaroo and not a wind-blown plastic bag.”

Of all animal-related accidents in Australia, eighty percent involve kangaroos. Kangaroo-recognition, then, is a critical aspect of automated vehicle technology.

That’s the challenge in Australia, anyway. Here in the States, our engineers are scratching their heads wondering how to deal with all the direction-changing squirrels in the road.

Maybe our engineering issues will be easier to overcome.

How Far Away Are Self Driving Vehicles? (And Where Do Moving Trucks Fit In?)

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Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology is no longer just “the future”. Today, bringing self-driving vehicles from car shows to the streets is a full-on race for competing companies in the US and abroad.

Earlier this year, we reported about Otto, the self-driving vehicle maker that moved from the warehouse to the highway with their breakthrough autonomous truck. It delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado down to Colorado Springs with nobody driving it.

Some would argue that the cargo should have been something more significant or important, but (a) for some, there is nothing more important than beer, while (b) for others, in the event something should go wrong, losing a truckload of beer is a lot less significant than losing a truckload of someone’s belongings. Or million-dollar medical machines. Or even really good craft beer.

Regardless of the cargo, now that it’s been proven doable, the race is on! But before we get to how this impacts trucks, there is a significant and important history to detail about the AV industry.

And yes, there’s a legislative sideshow going on that will decide who gets to be on the starting line.

Safety First

Of the estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year (yes, that’s four zeros!), roughly 94 percent of the crashes involved human error.

Simply put, we the people are doing a horrendous job behind the wheel. Replacing us error-prone humans with machines that don’t make mistakes, the reasoning goes, will put a huge dent in the number of traffic accidents that occur in the US each year. And the sooner, the better.

7 Embarrassing Lessons

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in introducing the NHTSA’s revised guidelines for autonomous vehicle development, said self-driving cars could also help the blind and disabled – perhaps acknowledging that the technology would not only increase the level of safety for such drivers but would also give them a higher level of independence.

That’s something that is hard if not impossible to measure.

Interestingly, Chao doesn’t see the value in limiting development and testing to established automobile manufacturers—in other words, he thinks the companies with a known capacity for designing for commercial gain shouldn’t do it all. From the Scribd self-driving guideline book:

States should not place unnecessary burdens on competition and innovation by limiting ADS testing or deployment to motor vehicle manufacturers only…No data suggests that experience in vehicle manufacturing is an indicator of the ability to safely test or deploy vehicle technology [emphasis mine]. All entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites for testing or deployment should have the ability to operate in the State.

That last bit – “entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites” – may hope to keep this race from turning into a free-for-all. But again, these are just guidelines. Strong suggestions, maybe. But not laws by any definition. That, we can expect, is already beginning.

The Feds Take the Wheel

self-driving trucks

Last September, the U.S. House of Representatives made a bold move by unanimously voting to put the development of self-driving cars in the hands of federal regulators, not the states.

On the surface, this may seem like just another instance of federal bureaucracy getting in the way, but by cutting off the states’ authority to prohibit autonomous vehicles, the feds are actually hoping to speed up the process of making autonomous drive technology part of the everyday.

In other words, instead of 50 roadblocks, there’s only one.

As Reuters reports, “The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year.”

Wait a minute! Without meeting existing safety standards?!

The States Have a Say

That does sound rather concerning. But as US News & World Report explains that point, the proposal put forth by the House would

give the federal government the authority to exempt automakers from safety standards that don’t apply to autonomous technology [emphasis mine]. If a company can prove it can make a safe vehicle with no steering wheel, for example, the federal government could approve that. But generally speaking, manufacturers seeking these particular safety exemptions must demonstrate that their self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles.

A car is a car is a car, as far as the government is concerned. As it concerns self-driving cars, however, Reuters adds, “The House bill would require automakers to add a driver alert to check rear seating in an effort to prevent children from being left behind.” (This may or not be bolstered with a device to stop anyone who would forget their child is in the car from ever driving again.)

Furthermore, this bill does not put states entirely in the back seat when it comes to motor vehicle regulation. Registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections would all still be set by the individual states.

Yep, only performance standards would have to pass through federal review.

States will still have some authority to regulate the eventual use of autonomous vehicles, like requiring a human to be present on any self-driving vehicle. But states are “encouraged not to pass laws that would throw barriers in front of testing and use.”

Disagreement Among Administrations

self-driving trucks

As US News tells us,

Under the Obama administration automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment before putting test vehicles on the road. The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point voluntary assessment, asking automakers to consider things like cybersecurity, crash protection, how the vehicle interacts with occupants and the backup plans if the vehicle encounters a problem. They no longer ask automakers to think about ethics or privacy issues or share information beyond crash data, as the previous guidelines did.

That the present administration is not interested in the ethics of the industry is an issue that we will steer clear of.

We will instead add the sentiments of Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, who says the guidelines, which are policy, not law, provide a “streamlined, flexible system to accommodate the development and deployment of new technologies.” 

This stands in contrast to critics who suggest these guidelines don’t go far enough to ensure the safety of vehicles being put out on the road. David Friedman, director of car and product policy analysts for Consumer Union, warns that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “needs to be empowered to protect consumers against new hazards that may emerge, and to ensure automated systems work as they’re supposed to without placing consumers at risk.”

Clearly, the autonomous vehicle industry is at the crossroads of safety and economics.

Business: Anything But Usual

The race to get AV technology to the market is more than just selling cars alone. As FTI Communications puts it,

The automotive revenue pool could reach $1.5 trillion by 2030…this in part because AVs will likely have an impact that extends far beyond the automotive industry, into sectors such as insurance, tech, logistics, cybersecurity, delivery services, public sector infrastructure and tourism, to name a few. 

In other words, this has the potential to change economics as we know it. But since the NHTSA has established nothing more than non-binding, non-legal guidelines for the industry, there remains a significant degree of confusion about how to proceed at both state and private levels.

Add to this the current administration’s apparent appetite for growth in traditional manufacturing jobs, including manually driven cars, and we have a recipe for sluggish progress in what could be the greatest advancement in transportation since the invention of the combustion engine, maybe even the wheel.

As far as our industry is concerned, the question remains…

Autonomous Trucks: Now or Later?

self-driving trucksAs the subject of self-driving trucks is not addressed in the NHTSA’s guidelines or the aforementioned House bill, the development, testing and implementation of AV technology for transport trucks of all types have by default been left up to individual states (hence, Colorado’s beer delivery experiment).

Speaking in general terms, Michigan Senator Gary Peters states that “the House bill will facilitate the safe development and adoption of self-driving cars, reduce existing regulatory barriers and establish new regulatory framework.”

He does, however, refer to conversations he has had involving the prospects of self-driving trucks raise a very different set of issues from self-driving cars.

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As we are told, “The Michigan senator…did find some opposition to the idea of pushing freight legislation off to a later date to instead focus more intently on autonomous passenger vehicles.”

One of those opposed was American Trucking Association CEO Chris Spear. Besides issues like cybersecurity, infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, Spear makes the valid point that since autonomous passenger cars will eventually be sharing the road with freight trucks anyway, these and other issues should be answered for commercial and passenger vehicles at the same time.

“Our industry cannot be subject to a patchwork of conflicting state rules,” US News quotes Spear as he advocates for the federal government to pursue some sort of overarching freight standards that wouldn’t vary state to state.

Compliance with multiple state regimes would be very disruptive to the economy, to these companies, and I think it would be a jobs issue over time if we’re not able to move freight in a productive way, in a safe way and, obviously, in a profitable way.

But Spear does concede that while autonomous cars will likely be hitting the road very soon, autonomous tractor trailer technology is still “decades away” and “not in the foreseeable future.”

To this, Spear said he’s not worried about truckers losing their jobs to technology anytime soon. “We have a 50,000-driver shortage as it stands,” he reminds us. Navistar President and CEO agrees, joking that freight companies “already have driverless trucks, but that’s because they have trouble recruiting and retaining drivers.”

The Space Race of Our Industry, In a Nutshell

There’s a wealth of automotive technology coming out, a lot of it from right here in the United States. But a failure to put the proverbial pedal to the metal could result in missed opportunities for the US to stake its claim at the forefront of the industry.

It could also delay the implementation of autonomous technologies that ultimately could make American roadways safer.

“Whether it’s data-sharing, testing protocols, engagement of all of the right stakeholders – these are all issues that we need to begin to discuss,” says Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council and former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

If the trucking sector is left on the side of the road while these discussions progress, it will be even longer before our industry begins to see the safety, as well as the economic benefits, of autonomous vehicle technology.

And because of all that, it may be a long time before you or any other company waves goodbye to your cargo being driven away by a moving truck.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

Thieves Bring Dark Times to Two Sunny State Movers

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As movers, our first priority is making sure the belongings our customers entrust us with remain safe. We lock our trucks and our warehouse doors and chain up the gate.

But just as important as protecting our customers’ goods is protecting our own stuff—namely, our trucks.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

A U-Haul center in the paradise of Hawaii has fallen victim to not one, not a couple, but dozens of instances of vandalism and theft this year. Kaleo Alau, owner of the U-Haul center, tells Hawaii News Now that the accused perpetrators, homeless individuals living under a nearby viaduct, have smashed windows, stolen batteries, siphoned gas and even lit a fire, causing thousands in damage and lost business.

It’s something that’s very hard to catch,” says Alau. “They have lookouts on one side who will warn people when a car is coming. There is a place to jump in the water and swim away which has happened before when they got caught.”

So what about security cameras? They might help—though not if your perpetrators know they are there.

That was the case in Hollywood, Florida, where two men scoped out the lot of the North American Moving Company before moving in and stealing ten wheels off two trucks, leaving the rigs sitting on wooden blocks as they rolled the stolen tires under a fence and into their white van. (It’s always a white van, isn’t it?)

Security camera footage shows the men hiding their faces with pieces of cardboard from whichever cameras they hadn’t already disabled or turned toward the sky. Moving company owner Gary Manning noted that these guys knew exactly what they were doing. “These weren’t just two guys walking off the street,” he added.

Unfortunately, these guys are still walking the streets. More evidence if there ever was some to keep your equipment as secure as you possibly can.

How to Survive Driving a Rental Truck in the Snow

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Driving a car through snow and ice ain’t no one’s idea of a picnic. You have to watch your speed. You have to constantly glance in your mirrors. You’ve got to stash the phone away and keep a careful eye out for all the death-defying maniacs out there. (You people in the northeast understand.)

Now, if driving your regular car into the teeth of winter’s fury makes you feel like you’ll never see another spring, imagine how it’s going to feel piloting that rental truck. The weight of your entire material world leaning and swaying behind you as you roll down those same icy roads and onto the unforgiving highway.

Maybe you’re absolutely obligated to move now. Maybe you just think it’s time. Either way, across much of the country the elements can be snarling. Before you load up and put that rental truck in gear, make sure you have all the supplies (and do what you need to do) to make it safely to your new home.

Stuff You Should Have

Here’s a list of essential items. It may seem long, but I’ve needed every single one of these at some point in my long moving career.

  • Good boots
  • Warm clothes—and bring extra everything.
  • Sunglasses (Hats do nothing for you when the sun is reflecting off the snow all over the ground.)
  • Food, water and a first aid kit
  • Flashlight, batteries and blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Toolkit with basic tools
  • Matches in a plastic bag
  • Wiper fluid, windshield de-icer and a jug of anti-freeze

Additional Emergency Equipment

  • Shovel
  • Bag of sand
  • Set of jumper cables
  • Tow straps

And while getting all this stuff together may seem like a hassle, keep in mind: these things aren’t necessarily just for you. Having them may just mean you save another driver’s day.

Protip: If you are stuck in a snowdrift and need traction to get out, sand is what you want. Rock salt is meant to melt snow, not provide traction. So unless you’re willing to hang around and wait for that rock salt to do its chemical reaction thing, make sure you get some sand.

Maintenance You Should Get

Truck rental places don’t always have their stuff in order, so before you drive off the rental truck lot, make sure all these things are done:

  • Check the anti-freeze and wiper fluid (don’t trust that it’s been done for you). If they’re low, get it taken care of
  • Make sure your truck is properly stocked with spare tire, a jack and a tire iron (You’d be surprised.)
  • Flares and those reflective triangles are critical in the event you break down on the road at night. Your rental truck company may not supply them (Flares, by the way, can also be used to start a fire in an extreme situation, while reflectors become even more important if and when your flares go out.)

Also, are you in a snowy and mountainous region? Tire chains are recommended or, sometimes, required. Check this resource for a state-by-state rundown.

Stuff You Should Remember

  • Drive extra slow. Your loaded rental truck is not going to stop on a dime 
  • Leave extra room ahead of you—Other drivers will try to stop on a dime
  • Be extra aware of icy spots, snow build-up, and drivers who are paying attention to none of it
  • Keep your lights and your mirrors clear of ice, frost and fog (Trust me.)
  • Keep your gas tank no emptier than half full – low fuel levels can lead to water condensation in the fuel line
  • Keep your power usage to a minimum. Cold weather decreases a battery’s output, and when it’s freezing out you’re going to want all the power you can get
  • Keep up to date with future weather conditions and forecasts. Clear weather now doesn’t mean blue skies forever

Final Must-Do’s

  • Make sure you have a mobile phone charger that adapts to whatever type of outlet you have in your truck. When you’re really stuck, that phone might be your last resort. Consider keeping an extra phone, fully-charged, on hand for twice the security
  • Any kind of map is critical. Whether it’s a road atlas or a GPS, be able to determine where you are and where you are going. Know your route as best you can before you even get into that seat

And finally … have a clear head. Be relaxed, be awake and stay alert. Your smarts and your reflexes are your first and best defenses in the face of winter’s fury.

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