One of life’s most stressful tasks is packing up your home and moving. The process is even more difficult when your new home is across the country. Moving services get expensive the longer the haul which is why self-serve moving truck rentals are a popular choice.
When you’ve finally got the truck loaded up and are ready to leave, you need to have more than just your final destination plugged into your GPS. There are other things to consider including bathroom breaks, food and beverage stops, overnight stays, refuelling stops, and truck routes.
Here are a few tips on driving a moving truck when you’re moving cross country.
Part 1 of 2: Plan your route ahead
You know your destination address and surely know the general direction you need to go to get there. Plan a specific route ahead of time to ensure the fastest and easiest way to arrive safely.
Step 1: Search for an online map to your destination. Use a popular site such as Google Maps for accurate, up-to-date information
Enter your current location and your destination, then press Enter to see the route options. If it doesn’t default to driving as your mode of transportation, click the car icon on the top left.
Browse through the route options that are provided. You aren’t locked into just these choices and can drag your route to another roadway simply by clicking on the route and dragging it over.
You may want to consider avoiding construction routes indicated on the map as stop-and-go driving isn’t easy in a big truck.
Step 2: Plot your stops along the way. Plan ahead of time to stop to stretch your legs, refuel the truck and your bellies, and rest.
An estimated distance per fill is usually provided by the rental company the moving truck is from. If not, make sure your route has fuel stops regularly so you don’t run out of gas on the way.
Choose major cities as stops along your route for food and fuel so you have options. Some stations may not have diesel fuel, so if your moving truck requires diesel, you’ll want options.
Step 3: Break up your trip into manageable days. You know what you’re capable of driving in a day.
Driving is fun to some, but everyone gets tired behind the wheel after a few hours. Keep your driving days within your limits, whether that’s six hours, eight hours, twelve hours, or longer. Plan your overnight stays based on the shorter end of your limit.
Part 2 of 2: Drive safely the whole trip
Driving a moving truck is very different from a family car, an SUV, or a light-duty truck. While the controls may be the same, the moving truck accelerates much slower, it takes much further to brake, and is much less nimble to steer.
Step 1: Get a feel for the acceleration, braking, and steering. This will feel much different and more sluggish with the moving truck full as opposed to empty.
Test the truck loaded when there is very little traffic around you. Feel how hard the brakes have to be pressed to come to a stop and how much gas is required to accelerate.
Step 2: Drive at your own pace. Go only as fast as you feel comfortable and as the conditions allow.
Traffic around you might be driving much faster, but don’t feel the need to match their speed. Use controlled, smooth motions as much as possible to speed up, slow down, and turn to prevent the contents in the truck from shifting.
Step 3: Avoid city driving if possible. If there is a bypass route around major metropolitan areas, take it.
Most accidents occur in heavier traffic, and your unfamiliarity with the moving truck can compound the problem. Bypass routes are faster than city routes so you can get more miles under your belt in a day.
Step 4: Rest when you need to. If you get tired, switch drivers or stop to rest.
There are rest stops regularly along most interstates and highways to allow tired drivers a change to get some sleep or stretch. When you get to your destination, give yourself a quick break before starting to unpack. Go for a walk to loosen stiff muscles and have a snack to replenish your energy.
Moving can be very stressful on you, but if you prepare for the trip, you can cut down on anxiety and stress beforehand. If you have any questions about rental trucks used in moving or have issues with your car, be sure Ask a Mechanic for some advice.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Drive a Moving Truck When Moving Cross Country and was authored by Jason Unrau.