We gotta weigh to go... LTL shipping from Midatlantic -> Midwest
November 18, 2023 2:40 PM   Subscribe

I have 20 VERY heavy and large plastic crates that need to go from a residence in the DC area to a residence in Nebraska in a price-conscious way. The contents are not hazardous, fragile, or perishable. I'm considering using an LTL (less-than-load) shipping company, which I've never done before. Does anyone have any specific LTL recommendations (besides Yellow, which is kaput) or warnings? Should I just use a moving company instead? Or some other plan? (Driving it to Nebraska myself is an option but a less-desirable one)
posted by nkknkk to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're up for loading it yourself, there are pod-like movers (in addition to Pods) which come in a variety of sizes, like UHaul, for example. I don't have one to recommend, but the boxes also come in a variety of materials. These will require multiple day, front yard / street access for loading and unloading.

Another LTL shipper is Estes. I haven't used them, but a family member used to work for them.
posted by hydra77 at 4:05 PM on November 18

Uship.com is the leading marketplace platform for direct to customer LTL bookings across companies.

You may be better off using a moving company, but you will easily get quotes for comparison there.

(RIP Amtrak Express.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:45 PM on November 18

Best answer: How heavy and large are these crates, exactly? Could they be taped shut or sealed and mailing-labelled as-is?

I ask because according to the USPS' rules for parcels here, if they're under 70 pounds and under 108 inches (or 130 inches when using USPS Ground Advantage) when adding up their length and girth (this is defined as follows: "For parcels, length is the distance of the longest dimension and girth is the distance around the thickest part"), you'd be able to send each crate by mail.

Using the USPS domestic price calculator here, I found that a 70-pound package being sent from the random ZIP code 20001 in DC to the random Omaha ZIP code 68110 would cost you $133.85 by Priority Mail and $118.55 by Ground Advantage. If some of the crates met the requirements for Media Mail, you could spend $55.67 on those instead.
posted by mdonley at 4:55 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to do drop off and pick up at either end and aren't in a hurry, I would check out Greyhound. I've moved very large/heavy items that way and it's much cheaper.
posted by brookeb at 5:51 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In seeking LTL quotes, the rates are often much better if your shipment is palletized. If you don't have a pallet jack at your disposal, make sure you stack and prepare your pallet in a place where it can be easily retrieved with a pallet jack or a forklift. (Not on grass or gravel, and on no or very little slope) Generally, this means stacking your crates in layers in a stable pattern. If your crates have irregular tops that would prevent them from cleanly stacking when layers are rotated 90 degrees, you'll probably want to use thick sheets of corrugated or honeycomb cardboard in between layers to provide a more suitable surface for each layer. Your LTL shipper will almost certainly have preferred standards for how a pallet should be prepared (usually well stacked, strapped/banded, and very well shrink-wrapped). I used to ship equipment cross-country, and the rates for palletized vs. loose shipments were sometimes as little as half the price. You'll want to know what your LTL carrier's limits are; how heavy an individual pallet can be, and you may find that you need to split your load into 2 or 3 pallets, depending on the total weight involved. Most LTL carriers prefer to keep a single standard 48"x40" pallet to 2,000lbs or less. That's about what a single person can safely move, in most circumstances (not just in a smooth-floored warehouse, but along rough streets and sidewalks, on and off a liftgate, etc.) with an unpowered pallet jack.
posted by xedrik at 7:24 PM on November 18 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, all. The pallet info from xedrik is super helpful and... not gonna happen. So I'm going to search alternative paths. I appreciate the advice!
posted by nkknkk at 5:23 AM on November 20

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