If you are getting ready to move across your state or across the country, an excellent alternative to paying for a moving company is shipping with a common, or freight, carrier. Some freight carriers operate only in specific regions; others are nationwide. Choose a carrier which won’t ‘hand off’ your shipment to a regional carrier on the way to its destination; the only way you can know this is if you call and ask them.

The fewer transfers among carriers, the better chance you have of receiving your shipment in its complete, intact state. (If you have furniture, it isn’t always easy to pack it for shipment on a freight carrier, and you take the chance of having good furniture damaged if you haven’t packaged it properly. To save money, you could split your shipment, paying a moving company their piece rate to take only the items you can’t pack, and using a freight carrier to ship everything else.)

It takes a little initiative and planning to ship your possessions via a common carrier, but the advantages are worth the effort. The cost of your move could sometimes be substantially less than what you would pay a moving company. Your shipment, even if it goes on a standard time basis, will often arrive in a fraction of the time that a moving company can schedule it. If you have very fragile items, you can easily pack them to your own standards to assure their safe arrival, using readily available packing cartons designed for the do-it-yourselfer. With a little extra effort, you can shrink-wrap your boxes onto a wooden pallet, ensuring that the entire shipment will be processed as one piece, reducing the chance of loss. Your shipment can usually be picked up within 24 hours, or you can take it to the terminal, often without an appointment, during their regular business hours.

Once it arrives at the destination city, your timing options with a common carrier are much more flexible than with a moving company. Generally, a freight carrierwill hold your shipment at their terminal for a fraction of what you’d pay the moving company to store it. Freight carriers are only obligated to place your shipment outside their truck at the address requested but most carriers provide for ‘inside delivery’ if you prefer, and the extra charge for this service is often well worth the price.