Ultimate Freight Moving Guide

The "You Load, They Drive" appeal of freight moving has made it quickly become a popular way to move long distance.

Use this guide to compare moving with freight companies to alternative options like truck rental and moving containers. Our moving cost calculator can help you estimate costs and find the best freight moving companies in your area.

What is included with a freight trailer?

Every freight company generally offers the same set of services for a freight trailer move. Keep in mind, there can be small differences between freight companies that add up to big costs.

When getting quotes, ask every freight company the same set of questions and be sure to write down their answers on the estimate paperwork.

  • Door-to-door transportation
  • 3 days to load & 3 days to unload
  • Fuel & tolls
  • Loading Ramp
  • Dedicated trailer (typically 28' long)
  • Bulkhead divider to lock your move in
  • Help loading or unloading (Hire Moving Labor)
  • Parking permits (if necessary)
  • Insurance (coverage varies per company)
  • Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble, wrap, etc.
  • Weekend pickup/delivery (sometimes available)
  • Pads, straps, or blankets
  • Dolly or hand-truck (sometimes available to rent)

Compare to the competition

Compare freight trailers to professional movers, moving containers, and moving truck rentals.

Freight Trailers Professional Movers
Delivery Freight companies tend to have much faster and more reliable delivery windows than movers. Moving companies often give wide and unreliable delivery windows, especially for smaller shipments.
Cancellations Freight companies are much less likely to cancel on moving day because they aren't reliant on moving crews and have access to a much larger fleet of trucks. Professional moving companies have much smaller truck fleets and rely on labor crews to show up on moving day, increasing the chances of cancellations or delays on moving day.
Prep Time Freight offers 3 days to load so you have more time to pack and clear everything out. With professional movers you'll need to be fully prepared before they arrive.
Pricing Freight pricing is based on a simple per foot charge. Professional moving quotes can be difficult to understand.
Privacy Your items are the only household goods in the freight trailer, secured behind a bulkhead door. Unless your move is a full truckload, professional movers almost always pair shipments together.
Labor Freight provides no labor, although it's not hard to hire some help. Professional movers will load and unload the truck including basic furniture assembly.
Insurance Freight companies usually don't offer more than basic valuation coverage. Professional moving companies tend to have more insurance options and better overall coverage for damages.
Moving Equipment Freight provides limited equipment. Professional movers will bring pads, blankets, dollies, and straps to make sure all items are properly secured.
Storage Freight storage is expensive. Professional moving companies typically offer a month of free storage.
Freight Trailers Containers
Space A single freight trailer can hold roughly the same as two and a half, 16' storage containers. If you need more than 16' of space you'll need to get a second container.
Pay for What You Use With freight you only pay for the space you need. With containers you are limited to two or three different sizes.
Pricing Freight websites offer instant & transparent online pricing. Container companies usually require calling for quotes.
Parking Freight trailers require around 40' of parking space, clear of low hanging tree or power lines. Urban areas can be a challenge. Containers are smaller and tend to be easier to fit in the driveway or on a city block.
Load/Unload Time Freight typically allows 3 days at loading and 3 days at unloading. Containers offer open-ended loading and unloading.
Off-Site Storage Freight storage is costly, short-term and not easily accessible. Containers offer affordable, long-term storage with on demand access to items.
Loading Freight trailers require a loading ramp and have 9 foot ceilings making loading more difficult. Containers rest on the ground and tend to have lower ceilings making loading a little easier.
Partial Move Freight trailers need to be fully unloaded at your destination. Containers make it easy to leave half your items in storage.
Freight Trailers Rental Trucks
Driving Freight is basically like renting a truck without the driving part. Driving a rental truck long distances can be a real hassle.
Space 28 foot freight trailer can hold equivalent to a 26' truck + a 10' truck. The largest rental truck size is 26 feet.
Pay For What You Use Pay only for the space that you use. Pick from a few sizes of rental truck.
Built-In Costs Freight includes mileage, tolls, gas, etc. into their base price. With rental trucks you’ll need to estimate costs like mileage, tolls, gas.
Storage Freight offers some options for short-term storage. With rental trucks you'll have to unload into a unit and load it up again later.
Delivery Since you aren't driving with freight you have slightly less control over delivery time than with a rental truck. A rental truck gives you more control over delivery time.
Car With freight a car will need to be shipped separately. Rental trucks allow you to rent a car hitch and tow your own car.
Parking The 28' freight trailer is pretty big and can be difficult to park in urban areas. Permits may also be required. Small rental trucks are easier to park and maneuver. Rental trucks typically don't require a special permit to park on the street.
Suspension Freight trucks typically have spring suspension (bumpier). Rental trucks usually offer air-ride suspension (smoother ride).

Using Freight Efficiently

Save Money by Controlling Costs

When it comes to moving with freight there are a number of things you can do to reduce costs.

Use the terminal

Freight companies will typically give you the option to load and unload your items at what is known as the terminal. Terminals are usually located within a 60 mile radius of urban areas. Loading, unloading or both at the terminal will typically result in a pretty significant price break.

You’ll need to weigh the savings against the added cost of going back and forth to the terminal. A terminal-to-terminal move can make a lot of sense for smaller shipments where a cheap van could be used to shuttle items.

Move mid-month

Leases typically turnover at the end of every month causing spikes in demand on the last few days. Avoid the rush and move in the middle of the month to save money.

Sell, donate, trash items

Freight companies charge a set rate for each foot of space you use in the trailer. Reducing the amount you’re moving can help reduce cost. There is typically a 4-5 foot minimum space requirement, so be careful not to reduce beyond this point as it won't result in any additional savings.

Extra Costs & Hidden Fees

Here's a few things that'll cost you more when moving with a freight trailer.

Parking permits

Trailers require roughly 40ft of parking space. Some municipalities require parking permits to park the trailer on the street. Check your city's website for more details.

Weekend pickup/delivery

Drivers don't like to work weekends. Most freight companies prefer to operate within Mon-Fri and charge extra for weekend drop offs.


1 or 2 months of storage is typically available for an additional fee. If you need longer term storage consider using a moving container or delivering to a storage unit.

Additional load & unload days

Need more than 3 days to load or unload? You can purchase additional days as needed on a per day fee basis.

Additional valuation coverage

Freight moving companies offer very basic and limited protection for damage in their base package. Most providers offer options to increase coverage in the event of an accident at an additional cost. Note, damage due to the loading or unloading of items won't be covered.

Blankets, straps, pads

Moving blankets, straps and moving pads will need to be purchased separately.

Live load & unload

If you can’t leave an unattended trailer on your street, you may need to coordinate for the driver to stay with the truck during the loading or unloading. The driver is simply staying with the truck, he won't provide any help loading or unloading.

The first hour or two is usually free and then an hourly rate will apply. New York City and other urban areas typically require live loading.

Truck cleaning fee

Be sure to sweep clean the trailer before final pickup to avoid a cleaning fee.

Weight tickets

Military PPM(DITY) move? You can request weight tickets for an additional fee.

Moving equipment

Hand trucks and dollies are typically available to rent. Prices and availability vary.

Guaranteed delivery

Want your trailer delivered on a certain day at your destination? Most providers are willing to offer guaranteed delivery at an additional cost.

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