Moving house is a situation that’s already fraught with a bit of anxiety. There’s buying or renting the new place, and getting free from your old one. There’s the fact that you actually have to pick up every single thing you own and move it.

And then you have to decide how you will move your things from Point A to Point B. How will you get them there safely, without breaking or losing anything? What sort of vehicle will you use?

Two common ways to move are 1) loading up your belongings into a box truck or 2) loading them into a trailer that you hitch to, and haul behind, your vehicle.

Both types of moving vehicles will get you and your belongings where you need to go, but how do you determine which is better for your specific situation — where you are moving from and to, what you’re moving, and who’s available to pack, drive and help?


Truck vs. Trailer

First, let’s be clear about what exactly a box truck and a moving trailer are.

A box truck, or moving truck, is definitely not your brother’s pickup. This is a large, professional moving truck with a cargo area in the back and a cab in front that generally holds two or three people. The cargo area is a large enclosed area with a lot of open floor space. The back door usually rolls up and down, like some garage doors, and the truck can be locked if it needs to be parked and left somewhere overnight with your goods still inside.

As for trailers that you load and then haul behind your car or truck, there are a couple different types and it’s important to know the difference. Cargo trailers are, like moving trucks, completely enclosed and have a locking door. Utility trailers are flat beds with railings around the sides, and they are open; they do not lock.

Not just any car or truck can pull a trailer – you need to check how much weight your vehicle can pull, which is determined by the vehicle’s manufacturer. The load weight it’s rated for includes the weight of both the trailer and its contents. Your vehicle must also have a hitch that is rated to pull a certain load.

Points to Consider

  • Do you have a great deal of stuff to move? Compare the size of available trailers and trucks. Sometimes moving trucks have more floor space, and in a moving truck you can stack boxes atop each other. Cargo trailers also come in different sizes, and sometimes a cargo trailer is bigger. Ask.
  • It may be simpler to load items into and out of a trailer, because it’s closer to the ground and you don’t have to deal with rolling things up and down a narrow ramp on a dolly.
  • Is there rain in the forecast? In a closed truck or a cargo trailer, your belongings are protected from the elements. You can tie a tarp over your goods in a utility trailer, but this isn’t a guarantee your worldly goods will be safe from inclement weather.
  • Are you moving expensive furniture and other valuable items? A moving truck usually offers more places to tie such large objects down.
  • Do you need to get your car to your new location, too? Better choose a moving truck; if you’re already pulling a trailer, there won’t be any way to haul your vehicle.

You’ll want to check with the truck or trailer rental company about how to load each type of vehicle. It matters how you distribute the load when driving a box truck or hitch trailer, so pay attention to their instructions.

Driving these two types of vehicles are a little different, too. When hauling a trailer, drive a bit slower, stay in the right lane, and try to park where you won’t need to reverse if possible. When you drive a moving truck you need to start braking sooner than you would with a car, and make much wider turns.

Whichever type of moving vehicle you rent, rental companies generally provide you with specific tips on how to load and drive it.

Leslie Lang