Using U-Haul to/from D.C. internship

For my 3-month terms in D.C. (vs. the 1 month and 1 week trips) I bring a U-Haul from the Midwest with my car. That sounds fairly extreme, but it’s also expensive to rent a car for 3 months. And, I like my home in D.C. to look frankly more long-term than just a visitor when I have guests. So I keep my home in the Midwest closed up, and bring the key items. Previously I’ve done this with a U-Haul Sport trailer, which just about anything can tow, well, maybe not those Smart Fortwo cars.

However, this time I actually bought a couch and a non-collapsible bed and a table. So I either had to donate or bring. Being me, I wanted to have this cross-country adventure, so early Sunday morning I picked up a duallie-U-Haul (for best stability get a duallie–double rear wheels) and put my car on the car hauler (all four wheels off the ground). I felt this was the safest method, if a little oversized.

I had to be sure I could get down the long, winding driveway to the loading dock. My building is waterfront, and the loading dock and driveways are such that I have to back up for two football fields in length, turning both directions as I go. With a rig this long (nearly 15 meters incl. car hauler and protuberances), there is no alternative. This is as long as a short semi-truck!

To manage this maneuver without cameras or assistance, I modeled the path in AutoCAD, including the trailer hitch so that I could see I didn’t need to turn too sharply. It turns out there was a reasonable margin of safety without needing to drive up on the curb.

Loading the U-Haul

I had to load the truck in a balanced way, keeping the weight toward the front so that maximum stability was achieved. I didn’t need to stack high because the truck was oversized for my needs (again to get the dual rear wheels). I allowed that my average speed would be 35 miles an hour–in actuality the trip approached 18 hours with stops, safety checks, refueling, etc. I had enough experience pulling trailers as a kid and from reading accident reports that it’s not worth than extra 5 mph if you end up wrecked. While I did keep the minimum 45 mph and used the major highways, I took frequent breaks as the U-Haul auto hauler gives a lot of bumping with the simple hitch system. It’s not smooth like a fifth-wheel might be, but of course that’s impossible on a moving van.

For interns to get the benefits of a more comfortable home life in D.C., you might bring a U-Haul. But be sure:

  1. it can actually fit into the path to your building loading dock
  2. be stable, drive slowly 45 mph
  3. you use a four-wheel auto hauler
  4. you load the truck as proscribed.