OUR U-HAUL TRIP ADVENTURE
This past week, we assisted with moving our grown daughter and her family from San Diego to their new home near Denver, CO. Hubby and I were responsible for renting and driving the equipment (our gift to them), and we traveled together via “the southern route”. In this post, hopefully someone will learn something from what we learned! We were driving a 20' U-Haul truck with a car (Nissan Versa) on a car trailer. They were driving a family crossover van/SUV.
WHAT TO RENT: We researched U-Haul, Penske and Budget, and this is what came out of it:
* U-Haul was far more willing to meet our needs, offering us another day and extra miles. U-Hauls have gasoline (regular unleaded) fuel tanks of about 40 gallons, and we averaged 8-9 mpg. The “Mom's attic” was a small draw, but we liked the lower-to-the-ground for loading/unloading, and the way that the trailer would ride.
* Our local Penske dealership was not willing to dicker at all, though they did have the diesel engine and the unlimited mileage. However, the guy came right out and said that he'd only be able to give us what was available at the time, 22' or 26', that was able to go one-way. His price was far more and included 5 days (no extra day would have been added free of charge).
* Budget was just out of this world when daughter and hubby priced them for us online. The nearest dealership was 10 miles away, where U-Haul and Penske were both right here in town.
* If I were to offer advice to anyone about what to rent: Figure out which one meets your needs. The dealerships do have ability to dicker in terms of price with number of days and miles on a one-way trip. Take a larger vehicle than you think you'll need. Don't believe U-Hauls claim that you can get the contents of a 2 bedroom apartment into a 20''. Kids were not able to do so.
* We rented a car trailer, so that all 4 tires are up on the trailer. This allows you to back up (and you WILL need to back up), saves wear and tear on the transmission and on the tires. Be prepared to wash it when you get to your destination – that car was so filthy, we couldn't see out of the windshield!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
* You'll know what the height is of your rig that you rent – both U-Haul and Penske have it on stickers within the cabs. The height will not be a problem if you stick to interstate highways, US and state highways. Where you may have a problem with height is in the center of a city. But it will warn you: “9'6” clearance ahead”. Stop and go a different route. Forget about parking in any parking garage, even with no trailer attached.
* Your LENGTH may cause a problem if you are towing a car trailer or a U-Haul trailer. While rest areas are built for trucks as well as passenger vehicles, many gas stations, fast food, restaurants are not. We found ourselves looking for truck stops with restaurants or fast food, for lunch.
* Parking that length at a motel could also be a problem if you don't specifically look for “Truck and Bus Parking” in a motel's ad, and then calling them to verify. You may also want to ensure that there's a restaurant within walking distance, so that you don't have to drive your long rig to some restaurant after you've checked into your motel.
* You CANNOT just “unhitch” the car trailer with the car still on it so that you can go to dinner or out sightseeing. It's a huge rigamarole.
DRIVING A BIG TRUCK/TRAILER COMBO:
* If towing, “swing wide, sweet chariot” will be your song as you maneuver through truck stop gas pumps and parking areas, to avoid hitting anything else.
* Expect your fuel mileage (8-10 mpg) to go down if you are in winds. Tailwinds are the best kind of winds to have, as they really improve your mileage. Side winds, especially strong ones, can bring your mpg down. Headwinds??? UGH, bye-bye money at the pump.
* You do NOT have to stop at commercial truck weigh stations unless you are carrying commercial goods. You may have to stop at open Inspection stations and Border Patrol checkpoint stations.