Everyone knows U-Haul trucks are great for moving, but what about using them to sleep in? For over 75 years, the company’s classic orange vans and trucks allowed Americans to move their families across the country.
But moving expenses add up quickly. If you’re already under financial stress, relocating to another state could drain your bank account. Sleeping in a rented U-Haul to save money could be appealing in this situation.
Join us as we discuss whether stealth camping in a moving truck could work for you.
Let’s get going!
What Is a U-Haul Truck?
U-Haul trucks are among the most used moving trucks in the U.S. You’re probably familiar with these ever-present vehicles and their orange-striped branding. However, you might not know that U-Haul has been in business since 1945!
Married couple Leonard and Anna Mary Carty Shoen founded the company at the end of World War II. During the economic boom following the war, many Americans relocated to different parts of the country to pursue careers and buy homes.
The Shoens recognized the demand for a convenient one-way moving service and created the company in response.
U-Haul now operates more than 20,000 locations across the country. According to their website, the combined annual mileage of all their vehicles could take you to the moon and back nearly ten times a day, every day!
The company rents vehicles as small as pickup trucks and as large as 26-foot moving trucks. U-Haul suggests a pickup, a nine-foot cargo van, or a 10-foot truck for small local moves. For larger trips or out-of-state relocations, they recommend 15-foot, 20-foot, or 26-foot moving trucks.
And every vehicle they rent offers air conditioning, seating for up to three passengers, and automatic transmission.
The Benefits of Sleeping in a U-Haul
If you’re in the middle of a long move and need a place to rest, sleeping in your U-Haul might be tempting. After all, you’re already paying for it. Why shell out for a motel room, too?
Using the U-Haul to sleep in can indeed save you money. These days, many budget-friendly hotels and even cheap motels cost more than $100 per night. Sleeping in a vehicle that’s already in your moving budget could save you hundreds of dollars during a lengthy move.
If you’re using a nine-foot cargo van, there are some additional bonuses. You can lock these vehicles from the inside, making them a safer choice for overnight camping.
Additionally, cargo vans naturally get more ventilation and airflow from the cab area. They’re likely to be more comfortable than the company’s larger moving trucks.
While sleeping in a U-Haul may not be glamorous, it also doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Consider having blankets and other easy-to-pack camping supplies on hand. With the generous amount of space in a moving truck, you may even have room for a cot or air mattress.
Keep in mind: Walmart can be a great free camping option.
The Disadvantages of Sleeping in a U-Haul
Sleeping in your moving truck may start to sound pretty appealing as moving costs add up. However, as with any stealth camping method, you’ll need to consider certain disadvantages.
When it comes to truck camping, safety is always a concern. Moving trucks and vans aren’t equipped with the same security measures as motorhomes. And since moving trucks frequently contain valuable items, they can be easy targets for thieves.
Gauging safety overall can be difficult when traveling long distances. You’re likely not going to be familiar with the locations you park overnight. Assessing risk in an unfamiliar area can be tricky, especially if you’re doing some unconventional camping.
Of course, there’s also the question of comfort. Moving trucks are windowless and offer little to no airflow and zero natural light sources.
The quality of sleep you may get in a U-Haul could be less than adequate. Remember, you’ll have to continue your move the following day!
Pro Tip: How safe is overnight RV parking?
Is It Legal to Sleep in a Moving Truck?
Technically, yes, it’s legal since there are no laws specifically stating otherwise. But you’ll want to take a few things into account before settling down for a rest.
If you’re planning to sleep in your U-Haul, the best course of action is to follow parking laws closely. Never park a moving truck in a prohibited area. After all, the last thing you want is your rented vehicle to get towed, especially if you’re inside!
Make sure to park in a lot that allows overnight parking. Many big-box stores permit vehicles to park overnight in their lots as long as they’re not too close to store entrances. Always check with store managers first to ensure there’s no issue.
Many apps and websites offer information on where you can legally park overnight. Campendium, iOverlander, and Allstays are excellent resources for drivers seeking a place to stop for the night. Users update the listings frequently, so it’s generally reliable information.
What Are the Alternatives to Sleeping in a U-Haul Truck?
Feeling apprehensive about sleeping in a U-Haul but looking for a cheap place to sleep? Don’t worry! Other inexpensive options may work for you.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might consider tent camping. National and state parks and public campsites across the country are great low-cost options.
Exploring RV and cabin rentals may be another possibility. Many owners of motorhomes and cabins rent out their units for inexpensive single-night rates. These are frequently cheaper than nightly charges at a hotel.
But if none of these options feel right, you may need to budget for a hotel room. After all, safety and comfort are just as important as money, if not more so.
So, Is Sleeping in a U-Haul Truck Worth It?
In the end, sleeping in your rented U-Haul is an option that comes with pros and cons. Financial woes can wreak havoc on anyone’s life, especially during a time as stressful as a move. Saving some cash by sleeping in a moving van may allow a person to eat a meal they otherwise couldn’t afford.
But like any stealth camping adventure, sleeping in a van or truck comes with certain risks. Is saving money worth risking your belongings or even your personal safety? Ultimately it’s up to individuals to choose for themselves.
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