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If you’re moving across the country, then you’re likely looking for the cheapest way to ship boxes across the country. You may be relocating due to a life change such as a new job or to be closer to friends and family. You have lots of options when figuring out how to ship large boxes across the country. However, the best choice will depend on a few factors. How many boxes are you shipping? How large are the boxes you’ll be shipping? Are the contents fragile? Will special handling be required? How heavy are the boxes you’ll be shipping?
Moving on Your Own
We found that a cheap way to move your stuff across the country during a long-distance move is renting a moving truck or van. You would be packing up your belongings yourself. Then, you’d be driving to your new location. This option might seem cheaper. However, you have to consider the time and physical effort involved with the do it yourself approach.
Long distance moving requires time. And this can be much more than just the time spent on the road. If you’re going to drive your belongings yourself, you might have to take time off of work. Kids may have to miss school days. This may not be a feasible option for everyone. One benefit of moving your boxes yourself is that you’ll have the peace of mind knowing exactly where your belongings are at the entire time.
However, this can come at the cost of the physical strain that it can take on your body. Road trips can be fun, but can also involve traffic, road, rage, and just stress and discomfort from being in a vehicle for extended periods of time. If you a baby or small child, this could require even more planning. You’ll want to ensure they’re entertained and comfortable as well.
If you have pets, a road trip might be one of the only options. Many forms of public transit restrict the kinds of animals to service animals. Otherwise, they charge hefty fees to be able to have your pet accompany you. Taking to the road gives you the opportunity to stay close to your belongings and your pets throughout the trip and take bathroom breaks along the way as needed.
How to Ship Large Boxes Across Country
If you’ve decided that you’d rather not deal with the hassle of driving your own boxes during a long-distance move, you have several options. When you think about shipping, the first providers that come to mind are probably the United States Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx. However, these are generally not cost-effective when moving large, heavy items or lots of items. If you’re not necessarily moving a lot and just need to ship stuff, this might work. We’ll discuss when this might make sense in a later section: Easy Ways to Ship Multiple Boxes Cross Country.
Before that though, we’ll take a look at some ways to ship large boxes across the country. Most of these rely on already existing transit networks. They take advantage of unused space on bus and train routes. Some of these options allow you to work directly with the transportation company while others work through brokers. Brokers can sometimes provide cheaper rates since they deal with the transportation companies on behalf of individuals. They pass on those savings to you since they’re able to get larger bulk discounts.
Shipping Moving Boxes by Bus
Greyhound Package Express
You may be familiar with Greyhound as a passenger bus service that travels across the country. In addition to carry-on luggage, passenger cargo is stored in luggage compartments beneath the bus. However, these compartments are often left unfilled. There are two related services which take advantage of this unused space.
The first is Greyhound Package Express. As the name suggests, this service is offered directly through Greyhound. They offer discounts to students, as well as active military and veterans. Since they have multiple departure times each day, this is a cost-effective option any time of year. Greyhound Package Express offers three levels of service:
|1. Economical, for shipments that aren’t time-critical
2. Web Only-Buy Now
3. Shipped on a space-available basis
4. May select door-to-door, counter-to-counter, or combination
5. Additional transit time required for oversized shipments
6. Pick-up and drop-off during normal business hours
|1. For time-critical shipments
2. 100% money-back guarantee that shipment arrives on schedule
3. Guaranteed to ship on next available schedule to the specified destination
4. Additional after-hours locations for pick-up and drop-off
5. Limited to trips less than 1,300 miles
|1. Fastest and most specialized
2. Uses dedicated vehicles on specific routes
3. Door-to-door only
4. Must be ready for pick-up upon order
5. Estimated time of arrival based on drive time
6. Limited to destinations within 400 miles of pick-up address
|1. Other services available by contacting a Greyhound Package Express representative
If you have time and aren’t in a rush, this can provide a great, cost-effective option through the standard level of service. However, if you’re on a specific timeline, one of the higher levels of service might be more ideal.
Estimated shipping times for standard service are as follows:
|Range In Miles
|Estimated Transit Time
Shipments exceeding 48” or including more than 5 pieces may take an additional 13 days.
Frequently Asked Question: How much does it cost to ship a box cross country by bus?
The cost to ship using Greyhound Package Express varies by weight, distance, and service level. You can get a quote online by using their Quick Quote tool. For the sake of comparison to other shipping options, we estimate that you will pay about $1 per pound.
Some other important things to note:
- Major cities may have separate storefronts for drop-off, otherwise, your shipment can be processed at the ticket counter.
- Shipments must be paid in advance with a credit card over the phone. You can also apply for a credit account.
- Delivery is currently limited to the continental United States. Delivery is not available to Canada or Mexico.
- Greyhound Package Express offers home delivery, but to the curb only. Inside delivery is not offered.
- You may purchase additional declared value over the included $100, but insurance is not offered. Keep this in mind as boxes are stored in the cargo area. It can be very bumpy during travel.
- Each package is limited to 100 pounds and the maximum dimensions are 29″ H x 47″ W x 82″ L.
- You should leave your package open for inspection upon drop-off. Packaging tape will be made available to secure your package. Additional shipping supplies may also be available at some locations.
- You can track your packages on the Greyhound Package Express website.
Busfreighter.com is a subsidiary of Dabent Holdings, LLC. They are an authorized reseller of Greyhound Package Express services. Therefore, they can offer discounted rates on shipping services. For the sake of comparison, Busfrieghter.com rates are about 15% less than Greyhound Package Express services. The service options offered are:
|Self-Service (Terminal to Terminal)
|1. Must be dropped off at the selected bus terminal or convenience drop-off location.
2. Convenience drop-off locations only available Monday through Friday, 9 am through 5 pm.
3. Must be purchased on Busfreighter.com. Discounted rates not available at Greyhound.
4. Shipping labels will be emailed upon payment. Print and affix them to your packages. 5. Greyhound will notify you when ready for pick-up. Bring photo ID.
|1. Station-to-door or door-to-station.
2. Must drop off or pick up the shipment at the bus station or convenience drop-off location and be available at designated pick-up or delivery window.
3. Greyhound will call with pick-up or delivery appointment scheduling as needed.
|1. Door-to-door shipments.
2. Customer must be available during pick-up and delivery windows.
|1. Discounted standard space available service for multi-piece shipments
|1. Economical for non-time-critical shipments.
|1. Door-to-door, counter-to-counter, or a combination.
2. Space available basis.
3. Oversize shipments may require additional transit time.
4. Pick-up and drop-off during normal business hours.
Some other important things to note:
- Maximum weight and size restrictions are the same as Greyhound Package Express: 100 pounds and 29″x47″x82″.
- Television and electronics are generally not accepted. If they are accepted, they may not be eligible for damage protection. Mattresses and other large furniture items are not suitable for shipping by bus.
- Additional charges may apply for exceeding weight and size restrictions.
- Hours for convenience drop-off locations (CDLs) are Monday through Friday 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Acceptance of a shipment by a CDL does not guarantee acceptance by Greyhound Package Express.
- Limited tracking, generally limited to departure and arrival information, is available.
- Cross-country shipments can take 10-14 days or more. Shipments less than 2,000 miles may be delivered in 3-7 days, depending on the distance. These are general guidelines and not guaranteed.
- Insurance is not offered, but present-day value for items is available.
- Busfreighter.com doesn’t require packages to be left open for inspection at drop-off. However, they do specify that Greyhound reserves the right to open and inspect all shipments.
Shipping Moving Boxes by Train
Amtrak Express Shipping
Another shipping option that takes advantage of already existing travel modalities is Amtrak Express Shipping. Similar to how Greyhound Package Express basically sells the unused space in their cargo bays on their routes, so does Amtrak. This option is actually cheaper.
Frequently Asked Question: What is the cheapest way to ship boxes across country?
Amtrak Express Shipping is actually one of the cheapest ways to ship boxes across the country. It costs $40 to $80 for the first 100 pounds. After that, it costs $0.40 to $0.80 per pound thereafter.
According to the website, Amtrak Express Shipping is currently suspended until further notice. The site doesn’t provide a reason why, although it may be COVID related. This number is provided on the site for information: 1-800-377-6914 (8 am – 8 pm ET, Monday through Friday). They may be able to provide additional information about if and when the services will resume.
If services are available in the future, here is some information it may be important to note: You can ship small packages and less than truckload items between more than 100 cities.
Frequently Asked Question: Can I use a moving box for shipping?
Amtrak requires shipments to be packaged inappropriately. Trash bags, plastic shipping containers, and large shipping packing boxes are not allowed. You should note the size limits for the boxes listed below. That way you can be sure that your shipment meets the necessary requirements.
|Small Package Shipments
|Heavy and Commercial Shipments
|Weight Limit for Each Item
|1. Per item: 50 pounds (23 kg)
|1. Individual pallets: 500 pounds (227 kg)
2. Each non-palletized item: 50 pounds (23 kg)
|3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft (90 cm by 90 cm by 90 cm)
|Weight Limit for Each Shipment
|500 lbs. (227 kg)
Unlike Greyhound Package Express, Amtrak Express Shipping accepts bicycles and unicycles. They must be packaged securely in a box. If you do not have your own box, you can purchase one from Amtrak. However, they recommend calling in advance to make sure they are available. Bicycles are not restricted by the size requirements listed above.
Another special item that Amtrak Express Shipping handles is human remains. Generally, funeral staff must be available at the drop-off and pick-up locations to load and unload the remains. Again, you should contact the station in advance to confirm requirements.
Shipping Moving Boxes by UShip
Uship is a relatively new option. With Uship, you post details about your shipment on the UShip Marketplace and independent truck drivers who are already traveling along that route bid on your shipment. Truckers are verified by UShip. There are currently more than 40,000 truckers in the network.
Your cost will be dependent on the bids you get. Bids will be dependent on where your shipment is going. If you are going to a high traffic location, you’ll likely receive cheap bids. If your destination is far out of the way from common routes, you may get higher or no bids.
Some other important things to note:
- Although verified, truckers aren’t professional movers. You can do your research, but you may be taking a chance. You might not want to ship very fragile or important items using this method.
- Bids are not guaranteed and may not be cheaper than any of the other methods, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
- One advantage of UShip over previously mentioned options is that shipments can be insured.
- Unlike Greyhound Package Express or Amtrak, you can ship large items like furniture and large electronics.
Shipping Moving Boxes by Car Shipping Companies
If you happen to already be shipping your vehicle from one location to another, you could potentially pack your belongings inside it. However, some companies prohibit this or have weight limits. Therefore, it’s important to ask in advance. This could be a cheap way to move your stuff across the country though.
Easy Ways to Ship Multiple Boxes Cross Country
One option that was briefly mentioned earlier on, but hasn’t yet been discussed is that of shipping providers such as the United States Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, and UPS. These obviously aren’t ideal choices for shipping large and bulky items, but they can be a viable option for smaller, fragile items since they are generally more carefully handled and can be insured for the full value of the item.
These are options that many retailers use to send their online orders, as well as small, independent sellers like those on Etsy. These types of shipping options make sense for these types of uses since they can often pad the purchase price with the shipping cost or have the customer pay for it outright.
These sellers are sending multiple boxes to multiple destinations and depending on the size, these shipping providers can provide a good option. If, for example, the item is small, but heavy, USPS offers flat rate shipping where they even provide you with the box and free shipping materials. Then, as long as it fits in the box, you pay the same rate. Flat rate boxes include a base rate of insurance and you can purchase additional if necessary.
FedEx and UPS are generally more expensive than USPS, but provide reliable service and robust tracking options.
Depending on what it is you’re shipping, it may not be worth shipping it across the country at all. For instance, something like a couch or other large furniture that doesn’t hold great value might be better off being replaced once you get to your new destination. You’ll have to weigh the cost of shipping it against the cost of purchasing a new one.
There are, of course, situations where items hold personal significance or value or can’t easily be replaced. These are the situations where you’d want to consider any of the options above.
Regardless of the situation, it is always the best idea to hire a reliable moving company such as Earth Relocation. Their moving services can be customized based on your special moving needs. Hiring Earth Relocation to move your boxes cross country will be cost-effective and they will make your move completely stress-free. Start your move by getting a free quote today!
Flying with Your Boxes
If you’re flying to your new destination, you may be able to carry some of your belongings with you in your checked and carry-on baggage. This would best be reserved for those valuable and fragile items. However, although you can often pay for extra baggage, you’re still limited in the amounts you can purchase.
For example, Delta limits each passenger to 10 checked bags. Delta Connection flights are limited to 4 checked bags. They also further limit the number of checked bags where excess baggage would limit the 2 standards checked bags allotted to each passenger.
Delta charges $30 USD for your first checked bag and $40 USD for your second checked bag. Bags must weigh less than 50 pounds (23 kilograms). They waive the first bag fee if you’re a SkyMiles member. Additionally, the sum of the width, length, and height must be less than or equal to 62. You are also allowed one carry-on bag and a personal item.
If you have something particularly valuable or fragile, it is best kept in your carry-on if size permits. This is because it will be with you at all times and you can ensure that nothing happens to it.
Delta charges additional fees for weight, size, and quantity limits. That means that if you have a box that is over 50 pounds, you will incur one charge. If that box’s length, width, and height sum more than 62 inches, you will incur another charge. And if that box is in excess of the two allotted checked items, you will incur another charge.
The charge for the third checked item is $150 USD. The charge for the fourth through tenth checked items is $200 USD each. This means that if you were not a Delta SkyMiles member and decided to check 10 items, you would pay $1,620.
A box which is between 51 and 70 pounds costs an additional $100. A box which is between 71 to 100 pounds costs an additional $200 USD. Delta does not accept boxes over 100 pounds.
Boxes that measure 63” to 80” incur a $200 fee. Boxes or baggage that exceed 80” in linear length are not accepted. These fees can add up quickly, so it’s important to keep them in mind when packing your boxes. You’ll want to make sure you use the right size boxes and weigh them beforehand.
One of the benefits of flying with your bags across the country is that you can track them. Ideally, they won’t get lost. But sometimes it happens. Delta offers the convenience of tracking your bags in their app or on their website. Usually, if your bags are lost, they will do the legwork of getting them to you.
Another benefit is that you can send large and bulky items that other shipping options might not allow. Some examples might be golf clubs, skis, wheelchairs, etc. This is also a reasonable option if you need to ship boxes internationally.