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Why do Long-Distance Deliveries Take So Long?

Home » Why do Long-Distance Deliveries Take So Long?
Featured image CC by SA 4.0 by lllymarry via Wikipedia

If you’ve taken any time to read moving company reviews (and if you are moving, you definitely should), you may have noticed that at least among the reputable companies, many of the negative reviews are about delivery time. Why, exactly, does it take so long for a long-distance delivery?

If you’ve only moved locally, or if you’ve rented a truck to haul your things across country, it’s reasonable that you’d think the truck would be right behind you. While that can happen (we’ll get to how in a bit), immediate delivery is simply outside most people’s budgets.


The most cost-effective way to move goods across country is with a large semi-truck. Unless you live in a large home, it’s unlikely that your items alone will fill up the truck. On average, a semi-truck holds about three households worth, sometimes more.

If you are moving from California to Florida, the truck might have to stop in, for example, Colorado and Texas along the way. There could be more, though. To keep your move cost-effective, the truck might also pick up a move in New Mexico and drop it off in Louisiana. While this sounds like it could go on forever, fear not. It won’t. But this is one of the reasons a moving company will give you a large window before your shipment arrives.

The Truck Itself

Semi-trucks are fantastic moving machines, but they have their limits. For example, they have to stop at weigh stations along the way. While you might drive straight through, with just a few stops to get gas and possibly nap, interstate truck drivers have strict federal limits. They can only drive 14 hours a day.

Another advantage you have over the truck is speed. While your car can easily top 80 miles an hour (when legally allowed, of course), the tires on tractor-trailers are really only designed to go about 75 miles per hour. During adverse weather conditions, or on steep hills, that speed slows down considerably. Even if you both leave at the exact same time, and even if the truck has no more pickups or deliveries, you will still beat the truck by as much as days.

What to do in the Meantime

When moving long-distance, the best advice is to prepare. Take several days worth of clothing in your car. If you don’t want to stay in a hotel while you wait, take some air mattresses, and some folding chairs. Be sure to move some books, your computers, and tablets, so you have some entertainment for yourselves and the kids. Take a dog bed and the dog bowls, along with some eating utensils for the humans. It’ll be inconvenient for a bit, but it’s definitely survivable, and you’ll hardly remember once everything arrives.

Is it Possible to Get Your Stuff Sooner?

If you live in a very large house, or you’re willing to pay as much for the move as you would if you lived in a very large house, it’s possible. You can, in effect, charter a semi-truck for your move and for only your move. The struck will still be limited by speed and federal regulations, but the wait should be fairly insignificant.

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