U-Hauling Again!

You know the old joke, “What does a lesbian bring on the second date?” It’s a U-Haul!

I brought the first U-Haul into our relationship back in 2005. It wasn’t on our second date though, I waited six whole months after we started dating to bring the U-Haul (the equivalent of five years in lesbian dating)! The distance for that first U-Haul trip in our relationship was only seven miles across Seattle from my apartment on Capitol Hill to Alison’s apartment in Greenwood.

Our most recent U-Haul adventure was just a couple of weeks ago and it was a doozy! Alison did all of the driving because it would have been too stressful for both of us to have Alison as the passenger while I drove the big truck, even if it was only for a couple of hours. The distance for our latest U-Haul trip was 1,513 miles from Seattle to Flagstaff. It took 27 hours of driving time so we stopped twice for the night to sleep within the giant state of California, first in Yreka and then in Barstow.

Our U-Haul route went from Seattle in Washington State, across Oregon and California, to Flagstaff in Arizona.

Moving Around in a Pandemic

We ended 2020 by spending 98 days in England as a way of wrapping up the first chapter of our international nomad life before settling back into one location in the USA again. We got pre-flight rapid Covid tests at Heathrow Airport the day before our flight to Seattle. The process at Heathrow Airport was pretty chaotic because those of us there for Covid tests weren’t sure where we should line up or how and when we would be called inside. The concept of requiring Covid tests before travel was/is still pretty new and the system was still being built when we went through the process ourselves in early January. It all went really well from our perspective and we were glad to test new pandemic rules and processes. Back here in the USA we need more pandemic rules and processes! Most importantly we were grateful to get reliable Covid tests at the airport before our flight home. Our Heathrow tests cost £79 each ($108.52 each) and we had our results in about 90 minutes.

Before picking up our U-Haul in Seattle we got Covid tests again since we had only been in town for a week and we had just flown back to the USA from the UK. We felt great about how safe the flight was but we wanted to make sure we were safe before we moved on since we knew we’d be bumping into family for social distance visits before too long. So we spent our last day in Seattle getting Covid tests from the Seattle Fire Department. Absolutely no surprise that the downtown testing process was very well organized and efficient (we know our previous home town of Seattle totally rocks!). Watching the team in action made us feel like we were in an episode of Station 19 (we love that show!). Most importantly, we were grateful to know that we were still Covid-free after flying back to the USA from England. Our Seattle tests were free, courtesy of the City of Seattle, and we had our results in about 24 hours.

Choosing Our U-Haul Truck

We had a couple of debates about which truck to get. I wanted the smaller 10 foot truck because it seemed like it would be easier to drive and easier to park. I always have opinions like this even though I’m not the primary driver in our family! Alison wanted the 15 foot truck because it would mean we had plenty of extra space to work with while loading the truck, and because the 15 foot truck had a loading ramp. The base price for the 10 foot truck was $100 less than the 15 foot truck, but sometimes saving a little money is not worth the cost in other areas. If we had to lift every box into the truck by hand and then climb up and move things around, the whole process would have taken longer and been more exhausting. Having the bigger truck and the ramp was the right decision for us because time is money and our energy is limited!

Loading the U-Haul

We took an Uber to the U-Haul lot a little before 7:00 AM to pick up our truck. We tossed our travel bags in the back and then drove over to our storage unit which was just a couple of miles away. Alison had predicted that the process of loading the truck would take two hours and her guess was pretty close. It took us two and a half hours to load the truck and hit the road. We put all of our bigger artwork boxes up in the area that hangs over the cab, which they call “Mom’s Attic.” Then we loaded our kitchen boxes at the back, followed by a few bulky things, and the rest of our metal rolling racks closest to the door.

The AOC U-Haul Road Trip

The same day we loaded the truck Alison drove 11 hours to get us south of the Siskiyou Mountains since we were trying to beat a winter weather system up there. We had no trouble at all, thank goodness! That night I went into a store to get some food for a very simple picnic dinner and an hour later Alison was sound asleep. It was a really long day!

On the second day Alison drove five hours to get us to my sister’s house where we had one last bag of clothes stored for our nomad adventures, along with our important legal binder. We were looking forward to getting our hands on that binder since it contains our estate plans, all of our account information, passwords, and more. Life has changed quite a bit for us in the last two years so we are looking forward to updating our legal documents again. Alison drove another 5 hours that afternoon and then we stopped for the night in Barstow, a couple of hours after turning east towards Arizona.

On the third day we drove the last six hours to our house in Flagstaff. There was a small amount of old snow on the ground when we got there but the next big snow storm was still about 24 hours away so we immediately got to work unloading the truck. It took about two hours for us to haul all of our stuff into the house and empty the truck. Then we immediately drove over to the U-Haul drop off location and turned the truck in. And sure enough 24 hours later a big snow storm arrived and dropped snow on us for five straight days. We were thrilled that we were able to home and get rid of the truck before the storm!

U-Haul Numbers

Let’s be blunt, the U-Haul was expensive! The base price for the 15 foot truck was around $900 but with one way trip fees the base price went up to around $1,300. And not surprisingly, the U-Haul was quite a gas guzzler. The 15 foot truck only gets 10 miles to the gallon and has a 40 gallon tank, so it seemed like we stopped for gas a million times. Every time we stopped Alison got out and did a few laps around the truck while I pumped the gas. We spent almost $500 on gas driving those 1,500+ miles.

Then there were a few little things we bought to give us a sense of security. Since this wasn’t our first U-Haul we knew we’d have to buy our own padlock for about $11. Why wouldn’t a U-Haul come with a locking back just like it comes with locks for the cab? This question has annoyed us in the past and it annoyed us again this time! Maybe it it was a quick roundtrip rental you can get away without a padlock but that wasn’t an option this time. The rental process also introduced the statistics about how often U-Haul trucks are stolen from hotel parking lots, which really freaked Alison out. After all of this effort to store things for two years we didn’t want to hit the road and then immediately lose it all and be liable for the truck being stolen as well. We asked what we should do about that and the recommendation was to buy a steering wheel lock, which they didn’t sell at the U-Haul store. A what?? I actually had to search online to remind myself of what those are, and then we did buy a steering wheel lock for about $30, mostly for peace of mind.

The Bottom Line

There are more affordable options than what we chose for ourselves, but we have no regrets. We’re really glad we took the time to prepare as much possible for this unexpected outcome. When we put our stuff in storage in 2018 we thought there were two possible outcomes for our storage unit. The first was we might decide to live in Washington State again after a year or two, so storing our stuff in Seattle by our old condo seemed perfect even with crazy high storage unit prices there. The second outcome we thought was realistic was deciding to give away everything in our storage unit so we could continue with our nomad life as super minimalists. We even prepared for that by leaving a set of keys with some friends in case we wanted to pay someone to clear out our storage unit for us while we kept traveling. What we weren’t expecting was getting a U-Haul and moving to Arizona!

The best part of this whole experience was getting messages from people during our road trip with jokes about us being U-Haul lesbians! I have a feeling this will be our very last U-Haul experience, but we are definitely U-Haul lesbians and proud of it!

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  1. Love the U-Haul lesbians joke that I had never heard before. Was there a cheaper option than choosing u-haul? Not the difference between the 10 and 15 foot rentals but from another company or moving service. We have moved ourselves from Houston to Maryland and back many years ago with a 26′ Penske truck towing a car. I can’t remember how much it actually cost, but hiring a moving company to do that would be over 10k.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We didn’t look around too much. We went with what was overwhelmingly available, easy to pick up and easy to drop off. And it felt like an extravagance for sure. And we are so happy to have all the stuff we kept. Would we do it all over again? Maybe not. But it did mean our new home felt like home right away which was priceless.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, what an adventure! It’s a doozy the way those U-Haul costs add up. It also seems like where you pick it up plays a big factor. When we moved stuff from Louisville to Philly, the U-Haul cost about $600 one-way, but when we looked into doing the reverse trip, it went up to $1200! But if we picked it up across the state line in Delaware, it went down to $800. Pretty dramatic.

    Glad you managed to evade the severe weather while driving. We’re hopeful we don’t have anymore U-Haul road trips in our future, but who knows?

    Liked by 2 people

    • We for sure had boxed ourselves into where we could pick up and drop off. And we had a very tight window in which we had to get the move done. It may not have been the most cost effective way to go but we got moved in one day earlier than we thought. All adding up to getting to Flagstaff safe and sound which had a ton of value. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m an extra cautious person so when someone brought up the possibility of the U-Haul getting stolen, I admit I freaked a little. But it was easy to find the Club and use it. Now it’s in our new/used car.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Whew! I bet you’re glad that’s behind you. Your post made me curious so I dug up my moving expenses from my one-way move from the Bay Area back to Portland in 2012. I paid movers $360 to empty my apartment/load the truck (I was at the top of 3 flight of stairs – they should have charged a lot more!) and the truck cost $520 + 370 in gas. And yep, I had to buy a padlock too! ($13.50)

    I’d forgotten all about those wheel locks and had to google for the name we all used for them – The Club. They were ubiquitous at one time but I haven’t seen one in ages now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow great job…you two are total pros at moving! Glad you were able to make it ahead of the snow. Hope you have a great time unpacking and creating a new home. =)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. […] Alison drove our friend’s car and Markus drove a big U-Haul filled with all of his favorite things, from camping gear to old family heirlooms. I had predicted it would take about four and a half days for them to get back here, but it only took them three days because they were very motivated. While they were driving I had time to do some last minute preparations at the house while I tracked their progress along the way, and I could tell after the first day that I would run out of time to finish some of the little projects I had in mind. Which was fine! When they arrived it seemed like we had finally achieved an almost mythical goal. And as we finished unloading our housemate’s U-Haul Alison and I had some serious dejavu! […]


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