The joys of packing

Miss D. and I are hard at work packing our belongings, in preparation for loading them on a big U-haul rental truck next Thursday.  The following day we’ll load her car onto a trailer behind the truck, then hit the road for our new home in Texas.

I’ve been trying to pack smarter this time.  I’ve usually tried to use all the space available in each container, even if that means cramming in things that don’t really belong together.  This time I’m trying to pack by functional groupings.  As for books, instead of putting those of the same size together, I’m packing them in the order into which I’ve sorted them on the shelves.  That’s less efficient and takes more boxes, but it means I save at least a week on the other side re-sorting them all.  I’ll take the saving in time over the cost of a few more boxes, thank you very much!  (The Lowe’s small moving box has proved ideal for packing books.  One box – 12″x12″x16″ – holds approximately one 3′ shelf of books, so one can predict how many one will need;  and it’s not too heavy, either.  The cardboard is lightweight, but since there are stacks of books inside, the latter will take the strain of several boxes piled on top of each other – I won’t have to worry about them crumpling under the weight.)

I have a question for readers who’ve used U-haul’s Auto Transport trailer.  The instructions emphasize that one shouldn’t tow it faster than 55 mph;  yet I’ve seen many people zipping along at 70 mph or more, towing a vehicle behind them on one of these things, without turning a hair.  Am I missing something, or is that trailer actually safe to use at higher speeds?  I wouldn’t want to do more than 60-65 mph in a heavily loaded truck anyway, but I’d appreciate your input, please.  (Miss D. will do something unmentionable to me if I splatter her prized car all over the landscape through my stupidity or negligence.  This way, I can blame your advice instead . . .)

The cat is eyeing all of the packing and preparations with a jaundiced eye.  She doesn’t like it when we go away, and she’s pretty sure we have something like that in mind;  but this time is different.  We’re not packing suitcases or duffel bags, but cardboard boxes and totes.  One can almost see the wheels turning in that little feline brain.  She doesn’t know (yet) that she’s going to be in a pet carrier in the cab of the truck with us for a couple of days.  Let’s hear it for kitty Quaaludes!  We’ll have to find a pet-friendly hotel in the Little Rock area to spend Friday night next week.  The hotel where we usually stop, in Maumelle, is a bit too high-toned to accept pets, I’m afraid.

It’s still Snowmageddon out there, with little prospect of getting out of the house for the next day or two.  We’ll put the enforced ‘idle’ time to good use and redouble our packing efforts.  Who says there isn’t a good side to bad weather?



  1. Red Roof Inn is pet friendly…when I drove 12 hours from NY to MI, with kitty in the passenger seat in his carrier, he was the last thing in and first thing out…and we played the radio loudly to help drown out the meowing, as he has never been a fan of car rides. He did quiet down when I had a talk radio station on…the second day was better, he only complained for about an hour instead of six. 🙂
    When I arrived, and let him out, after showing him where the litter box was and his food, he dove under the couch and didn't come out for 3 days. Took a while to adjust.


  2. While I have hear that things have gotten a little better but U-haul has a really bad reputation for poor maintenance on the vehicles. I have generally rented from Budget for both the truck and car trailer. The main difference is that floors on the trucks are higher. They do have nice wide ramps.

    Take a look for reports on U-hail maintenance issues.

  3. The speed you can handle the trailer depends first on the road, then on the load you have in both the truck and trailer; if you have a full truck and a full car, i doubt you'll be able to do more than 65 even on a good flat road.
    The rental truck I had in December with an auto transporter maxed at 75, apparently on a governor, but with any curves on the road the prudent speed was MUCH less. I had a 10 foot truck with no load except the trailer and my midsize car.

  4. I grinned a little at your post title, which could be taken more than one way.

    Regarding towing speeds, you'll probably find your groove quickly enough. The issue isn't so much how fast you can go, but how much it takes to stop and how to safely maneuver around hazards. Leave plenty of space and move your SA forward to anticipate changes.

    And I've used the uhaul dollies several times many years ago when they were marked with a 45 mph limit. I exceeded that significantly without problems. Just keep in mind that your whole rig will not handle as well or stop as well.

  5. Microtel is very pet friendly. Just a basic motel room, located usually with at least one restaurant within walking distance.

  6. You have had a 'welcome me to the neighborhood' thing, right? You'd be surprised how many folks have dollies there in the back of the garage. MOving to Texas, the word for 'dolly' is the same as the word for 'jack': it's 'gato', which is also the word for 'cat'. "Puede ustead prestarme un gato" (could you lend me a dolly/jack/kitty) must be followed by a following phrase, in your case, "para ayudarme in moviendo estat cajas" (to help me move there boxes). Otherwise you'll have a NASCAR team there saying which tire. Or a cat that you might not really need.

  7. Peter, being a veteran of many moves (including this latest one to OK), I've used many a U-Haul. If you're renting a truck, step one: accept the full moving insurance. Yes, it'll cost you some money. Advantage: unless you roll the truck, you're not responsible for scratches / damage on / to the truck. Without it, you have to personally catch / document EVERY scratch on the truck. Otherwise, you're responsible for it.
    If you're just renting a trailer: as others have said: check tire pressures. The insurance on the trailers are probably worth it, if just to get them off your back if anything happens to the trailer. With the trailer, no mileage limit. they don't have (as of 1 year ago) any mileage measuring equipment on the trailer. Regarding the 55 MPH speed limit on the trailer: who says? I wasn't going over 55 MPH. I don't know how I traveled 300 miles in a morning. (grin) I have had no trouble pulling the trailer at whatever the posted speed limit was. Of course standard loading practices required.

  8. The Pennske truck and car trailer we rented had no trouble doing, um, the speed limit, yeah, that's it, the speed limit…

  9. Make sure her model car can be loaded on the trailer you have arranged. Some cars are so low, with long overhangs, that they won't clear. Nothing like discovering this at the last minute. Or after towing the trailer 1 1/2 hours to the car you intend to pick up.

  10. The 55 mph limit is a California thing (anything, including semis, with a trailer is limited to 55 there, holdover from old time mechanical trailer brakes), I've towed at or near the speed limit with U-Haul trucks, dollies and car trailers.


  11. You can stay with us in Jacksonville, AR. A bit further up the road. Not high toned. Should have offered our place before.

  12. I've found doing the speed limit keeps my follow distance without effort. Sometimes you have to pass but most of the time you're being passed. A few mph slower than the limit, and you should have plenty of stopping room.

    I've towed some big stuff on their equipment, and had no issues at 65 to 70 depending on the road. YMMV.

    Used theira tow bar once. Never again. Downhill, washboard road and I got intimate with a cotton field on the side. Warned the family, "don't scream, we're gonna go sightseeing, hang on!!" The loose dirt slowed us down so I could control it again, and back on the highway, no problem.

    I'll be praying for you guys!

  13. We have moved a lot over the years…last time we started boxing up stuff our cat Loki started picking up her toys in her mouth and dropping them in open boxes…knew what was coming :>)


  14. As far as the 55 mph limit, the real concern is the rating on the trailer tires, Uhaul being cheapskates, it may be the max rating on the tires. Not to say that it couldn't be exceeded, especially with a lighter vehicle on the trailer, but I would be sure to check tire pressure and tires for severe weather checking. Also check the washer fluid and windshield wipers if expecting inclement weather… learned that the hard way.

  15. Ditto on what the others are saying about tire pressure on the truck and trailer. Usually the (cheap) tires are the issue. Also, tire heat doubles from 35 MPH to 50 MPH and the double again every 10 MPH after 50.

    Don't hurt yourselves packing and have a safe trip.

  16. Stop after the first two hours and tighten the hitch and the tire hold down webbing and check that it is still centered. Do it again at each fuel stop and before starting out each morning.

  17. sorry I missed this last week.

    the 55mph limit on all u-haul trailers is because officially (by federal law) the speed limit for ALL towing and all trucks is 55

    what speed you can actually do depends on so many things, including the weight and balance of the vehicle being towed that it's impossible to predict.

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