Drive a Rental Truck when Moving Cross Country

As daunting as it may sound to drive a huge rental truck, you'll find it's not much different than driving a car once you get used to it. Here are some pointers to make the drive easier.


  1. Estimate the load size as best you can - e.g. use a bathroom scale as you pack each box.
  2. Check a truck rental website for the size of truck required for that total weight.
  3. Call your insurance agent who will likely confirm that your regular car insurance will cover you even in a large truck.
  4. Consider getting an AAA membership which will discount the cost substantially with some rental companies. Once you're an AAA member, they provide members with free maps and hotel recommendations.
  5. If considering towing a car, find out how much it costs to ship it separately first, which may be cheaper than the extra fuel you'll burn to tow it, let alone the difficulty of backing up occasionally with a trailer
  6. Book your hotels in advance (figure your daily distance by number of hours per day you can manage times {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} average) - there's nothing worse than continuing to drive when you're exhausted because hotels have no vacancy. You can cancel most hotels up to the last minute if your driving distance varies.


  • Learn your stopping distance and drive accordingly.
  • Bring snacks that are easy to open and eat quickly, bring a collapsible cooler that you can put soda in and keep cold in a hotel refrigerator at night, and bring audio books on tape to pass the hours.
  • Make use of rest stops - use the truck area not the car area! Better to be the smallest vehicle in a parking lot than the largest.
  • Before you get in on the rental lot, adjust the mirrors properly on both sides.
  • Have change available for toll roads, if any.
  • Don't tailgate. Watch the road way up ahead - take advantage of your high vantage point. Plan well ahead to change lanes for exits.
  • Tape a reminder on the windshield that the truck is 12 or however many feet tall.
  • Many of these trucks are surprisingly easy to drive - cruise control, automatic - once you get used to how long the vehicle is. Trucks actually need less frequent 'play' or adjustment of the steering wheel than a car.
  • If you have a passenger, larger diesel trucks are a little too noisy to talk on the highway - more like shouting.
  • Write out your highway numbers and exits on a scrap of paper the night before each day so you can glance to remind yourself as you drive.
  • Don't plan on stopping for fast food. The parking lots are too small! Look for truck stops that have lots of trucks - the more trucks the better the food is! Also - better to pack light easy meals that won't make you sleepy on the road - crackers, cheese, puddings, nuts, etc.
  • Keep the HELP phone number for your truck rental service handy for use with your cell phone. Calls to the help desk got our air conditioner working again on a very long hot day when our truck was experiencing 'computer' problems.
  • Expect to get 9 mpg in a {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} truck unless you're driving really conservatively, then you'll get around 12 mpg.


  • Pay attention to signs for truckers you may have overlooked before - truck weigh stations and 'check brakes' signs. When checking brakes you have to come to a complete stop or police will fine you.

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