If you need a way to move your belongings from point A to point B, two of the most popular ways are using a box truck rental or a trailer and hitch. Both types of moving options serve the same basic purpose and will get you and your belongings where you need to go. 

But that’s where the similarities end. How do you determine which is better for your situation?

Consider where you’re moving from and to, what you’re moving, and who you plan to help pack, drive, and unload. And then choose the right option to fit your needs. Here’s what you can expect with each option.  

Renting a Box Truck: Pros and Cons

A box truck rental is vastly different from a normal, everyday truck you borrow from a family member or friend. There’s space for 2-3 people in the cab and then a large, enclosed space in the back shaped like a box. The rear door typically rolls up and down, and can be locked to ensure your contents are safe during transport. What do you need to know about renting a moving truck? These pros and cons should help. 

Pros of renting a box truck

  • Size and capacity: Do you have a great deal of stuff to move? Compare the size of available U-Haul trucks vs. trailers. With a box truck rental, you’ll typically have different sizes of U-Haul trucks to choose from. Sometimes moving trucks have more floor space, and you’re able to stack boxes on top of each other. Although be aware of the things you should never pack in a moving truck, like hazardous materials, perishable items, illegal items, etc. 
  • Convenience: A moving truck has built-in convenience given it’s both a truck and trailer in one contained unit. Because the back is enclosed, your belongings are protected from any weather or environmental elements. And if you’re moving expensive furniture or other valuable items, a moving truck offers more places to tie such large objects down for safe riding. In addition, most people are able to drive a moving truck fairly easily, so you may have a wider range of volunteers to help transport your items. Having that same group of people help unload your belongings may also be easier with a moving truck if there’s a loading dock to empty the contents onto.
  • Cost-effective: Cost is an important piece of the puzzle and the expense for a U-Haul truck may fit into your budget a little easier. But, how to get the best price on a moving truck depends on timing, location, and size. By the time you factor in the rental base rate, fuel economy and mileage, a box truck rental may not be as cost-effective as you think. But it is still cheaper than hiring full-service door-to-door movers by the hour.

Cons of renting a box truck

  • Difficulty maneuvering: Driving a U-Haul is pretty straightforward for the most part. But there are instances where they can be hard to maneuver. For example, if you’re driving down narrow or winding streets, the big and bulky size does not turn easily. Or if you suddenly find yourself driving through windy conditions, a box truck is top heavy and can be pulled around the road without warning. When you drive a moving truck, you need to start braking sooner than you would with a car, and make much wider turns. But compared to maneuvering and backing up with a trailer, the rental truck is easier to control.
  • Rental requirements:  The rental requirements for a U-Haul (or similar box truck rental) vary by company. According to U-Haul, you’ll need to be at least 18, with a valid driver’s license in your state, as well as a credit or debit card for reserving the truck online. If you don’t have these items, it may be difficult to rent a moving truck.
  • Hidden costs: You may need to factor in the cost of moving truck insurance in addition to the advertised rental rate, unless you are covered by an existing policy. It pays to call your insurance agent prior to the move to ask whether your home or auto policies cover a moving truck rental, and the items inside.
  • Limited availability: As you map out your move, pay attention to what companies consider peak moving season because it may affect the availability of trucks available for rent. 

Using a Trailer and Hitch: Pros and Cons

Keep in mind that there are different types of moving trailers. Cargo trailers are completely enclosed and have a door that can be locked, while utility trailers are an open flat bed with railings around the sides. Here are the pros and cons to using a trailer and hitch over a moving truck.  

Pros of using a trailer and hitch

  • Versatility: A trailer is easier to load and unload than a box truck. They have a significantly lower ground clearance, which means volunteers are not climbing to grab boxes and/or jumping down. Aside from a safer way to unload your belongings, it also cuts down on the time it takes to move your things because they can easily be rolled down a ramp with a dolly cart or similar piece of equipment.
  • Lower cost: If you already own a truck with a hitch, renting a trailer may be more economical than renting a moving truck.

Cons of using a trailer and hitch

  • Limited space: With a trailer, you’ll only be able to move a limited number of items. Moving the contents of a 3-4 bedroom house? Forget it. The best reason to utilize a trailer over a moving truck is when you don’t have a lot of stuff to move – or you decide to downsize substantially. For context, the biggest moving trailer can only accommodate a small two-bedroom apartment. 
  • Required equipment: In order to utilize a trailer and hitch, you need to have a vehicle capable of pulling it. The vehicle has to be rated to pull a certain load, which includes the weight of the trailer itself and the contents inside. Your vehicle also needs to be outfitted with a hitch system that’s rated to pull a specific load. If you don’t have one, this is an expense that can add significantly to your overall budget.
  • Safety concerns: According to MyMovingReviews, “a trailer will add 8-12 feet to the length of your vehicle and hundreds of pounds of extra weight. This will affect your car’s fuel consumption, braking ability, acceleration, and ease of maneuverability.” 

Follow safe driving rules to avoid a dangerous situation. This includes securely connecting the trailer to your vehicle, driving slowly, avoiding sharp turns or sudden braking, and trailer sway. This is when your trailer can start to swerve and careen uncontrollably causing an extremely hazardous driving condition. Make frequent stops to make sure your items are secure and the trailer is still securely attached to your vehicle.   

In addition, backing up with a trailer attached can be difficult. The larger the trailer, the easier it is to back up because small trailers have a short wheelbase that is easy to jack-knife.

The Choice May Come Down to a Personal Preference

Every move is different, and every family has different needs when it comes to safely moving their things from one place to the next. Cost is almost always a consideration, but don’t forget about the availability of a moving truck and the accessibility of the trailer. Ultimately, it may come down to your individual driving experience and what you’re most comfortable with.