Last week I wrote about the mechanics of our?1,200 mile self-move from Georgia to New Hampshire, and how we?d never do a long-distance self-move again. Today I want to explain the main detail that made it so disagreeable: driving the truck.
I know that I covered the truck issue to some degree in the last article, but have you ever had one of those moments in your life when you ask yourself ? after the fact ? what the?hell was I thinking??? For me, driving a moving truck 1,200 miles – by myself – was just such a moment.
I’m hoping that if you even consider doing such a thing, that you?ll reconsider based?on my experience.
Here are five reasons why I’ll?never do it again.
1. It?s Exhausting
This was not a ?moving van?, not in the sense of a light truck modified for the purpose of local light hauling. It was an actual truck. 26 feet long, with great big wheels, and the storage container sitting above those big wheels, or about three feet off the ground. That means that the truck was high ? I believe nearly 14 feet high (OK, 13 feet, 9 inches).
Picture driving one of those suckers fully loaded. You can feel the weight as you’re driving, and especially when you?re turning. I had to floor the gas pedal going uphill (which gives you an idea how heavy it is), then brake all the way down hill to keep the truck from losing control. And on turns, I had to take every one of them wide and slow.
The truck?had cruise control, but it was virtually a wasted option. I was unable use it due to heavier than expected traffic, as well as rapidly shifting traffic patterns. Virtually all the time that I was driving that truck I was 100% engaged in the task at hand. If you?re used to driving a car, this is something that?s fundamentally different.
When you do that for close to 12 hours a day, three days in a row, it?s physically exhausting. We may not think of driving in that way, but when you have to spend the entire time behind the wheel fighting the truck, fatigue is a factor.
It?s no different with tractor-trailer drivers, except that they’re used to it, and?mere mortals like us have no idea. I?m not exaggerating ? it?s physically exhausting. My years as a blogger did little to prepare me for the experience.
2. It?s Mentally Stressful
I?ve done a good bit of?long-distance driving in my life, and sometimes I even like it. When you?re driving a car, a van, or an SUV, and you can set the car on cruise control and relax and listen to music, it can be a pleasant experience. But a large truck forces you to change your driving habits, and be completely aware of everything that?s going on with the truck and with every vehicle within eyesight. That is an incredibly stressful experience, especially when it is done for hours on end.
And apart from the stress from actually driving the truck, are the scenarios that you can imagine happening ? they can do a real job on your head. For example, when you?re driving down the interstate at 65 miles per hour, and somebody in a subcompact darts out front of you from an on-ramp, it?s not difficult to project?being unable to stop, resulting in a serious accident.
That?thinking hit me several times during the drive, and it takes a serious toll on?an already battered?mind.
3. It Isn?t Safe
Any time you do something that you?re not fluid doing – and you do it long enough – the possibility of a serious incident is hardly out of the question. If you?re driving a large truck, you have to be the master of the vehicle. But if you have no experience doing it, you can’t possibly be the master. You’re just a poor excuse for an operator.
Anytime you mix inexperience with a potentially dangerous situation, safety is a real concern. I?m not kidding ? I spent a good deal of the time that I was driving the truck praying. And then more prayers when I was in bed at night, thanking God for a safe day behind the wheel, and begging for mercy for the next day.
Looking back, that?s what saved me.
4. There Isn?t Always Someone to Share the Driving With
This is always an issue when you are doing a long-distance move. Though I was willing to drive the truck, my wife wasn?t. And at age 20, my son is ineligible to drive a rental vehicle, particularly a commercial truck. I had to drive the truck every one of those 1,200 miles. That?s as scary after the fact as it was while I was doing it. There was no one to turn the wheel over to in the event that I became either tired or spooked.
That reality is another factor that kept me going.
5. There Are Better Alternatives
This may be the single biggest reason why I will?never attempt a venture like that again. Yes, we did save a lot of money doing the self move. But knowing what I know now, I understand?that there are?better alternatives.
There are plenty of long distance movers who will handle the driving for you. After my own experience, I?d be willing to pay the extra money to have them do it. And I?d consider it to be some of the best money I ever spent.
There are certain things in life where DIY makes sense, but making a long-distance self-move isn?t one of them. Not unless you have so few possessions, that you would only need to rent a vehicle that’s?just a little bit larger than a minivan.
There?s a saying – Do what you do best, and let others do the rest. I?m now a believer.
I feel for you. I work for UPS and I am in absolute awe of our “package car” (read “big brown truck”) drivers. We drill safe driving skills into them again and again because it is so dangerous. We have thousands of drivers in our Circle of Honor which means they’ve driven one of those trucks for 25 years straight without so much as a scratch or a ding. We have one driver that just got his 40 year patch. I’m glad the Lord got you safely to New Hampshire but you are spot on in recommending that people pay for a professional to do it for you. Stay safe…
Hi Chris – Like you, I’ve developed a real respect for truck drivers, and will give them the benefit of the down when driving. I learned more about driving a truck than I ever cared to. I think if there’s a next time, we’ll sell off most of our stuff, and start over in the new location. Hope to “see” you at men’s group this Saturday.
Holy cow I am so impressed you not only had the courage to consider doing that, but you actually did it! I would be a complete wreck trying to drive one of those things. I don’t think I would have the guts to even get behind the wheel. Thank goodness you made it without any accidents and now have a fantastic story to tell! – Sydney
Hi Sydney – I WAS a wreck all the time I was driving that thing. The general point of my writing this account is to warn others not to go down the same path. What seems easy on paper isn’t always easy in real life, and often carries unexpected risks.
Not everything is meant for DIY. You have to know your limits and be careful not to exceed them. I did just that (exceeded my limits). Sure we saved money, and there was no disaster, but the potential for it was incredibly real. There were doubtlessly risks that I still don’t even appreciate or know about.