If you have a particularly luxurious or “muscle-bound” car, or if you just want the convenience of using your own vehicle while on an extended vacation, it pays to explore the common means of auto shipping – both across the US and internationally.
While simply driving your own vehicle cross-country or into Canada or Mexico is, of course, a possibility, there are many situations where this is impractical or inconvenient. Therefore, consider these three options for having your vehicle professionally shipped to your vacation destination:
1. Auto Shipping By Train
The question is – should you ship a car by train? Many are not aware that most vehicles manufactured in the US are shipped over 1,000 miles by rail carriers specially designed for auto transport. But what about your personal vehicle? That depends. Let’s look at the facts.
Only a limited number of railways allows private owners to ship their own vehicles by train, including the Amtrak Auto Train runs from Lorton, VA, to Sanford, FL – which means just south of Washington D.C. to just north of Orlando. The first question you need to ask is if a train that carries autos is near enough to both your starting and ending points.
If it is, then you can usually save a good deal of money by shipping by train versus auto transport truck. Both options involve double and triple deck carriers, open and closed transport units, and shipment to/from terminals in major US cities.
The rail can move large numbers of vehicles at the same time. There are rail cars called auto racks with two or three decks and can carry up to 20 vehicles. They can carry anything from cars to trucks and large SUVs.
2. Auto Shipping By Truck
The most common method of personal auto shipping by far is by highway, not rails, in auto shipping “trucks.” These transport units are available for almost all destinations, whereas rail shipping is more limited. You can even get door-to-door pickup and delivery if you wish. Trains limit you to regional hubs, but regular auto shipping gives you the option to stick with big cities or to get hyper-specific delivery – you choose how to balance cost and convenience.
Shipping also tends to be faster when you use road transports as opposed to rail transport. Plus you can usually store up to 100 pounds of personal items in the vehicle when you ship by truck but not anything in the vehicle when you ship by train. However, in some cases, you might be able to ride the same railway as a passenger that you are shipping your car on – so it all depends on where you are going.
The bottom line is that auto shipping by road is usually the better option, and maybe the only possible one; but where shipping your auto by train is available and convenient, it will be cheaper.
3. Auto Shipping By Boat
Finally, there are a few situations where shipping your vehicle over the ocean may be the way to bring it with you on vacation. Special roll-on, roll-off (RORO) transport vessels allow for safe, efficient shipment of all manner of personal vehicles between the US mainland and Alaska, Hawaii, and US territories and dependencies.
You may also be able to get water transport for vehicles to far-flung international destinations. For major ports, you probably can secure RORO service, but you may be restricted container shipments for some lesser-visited ports of entry.
It’s hard to overestimate the benefits of having your own vehicle with you as you travel abroad. It gives you more freedom of movement, saves you time, and makes a vacation more pleasant. One of the three above-mentioned shipping methods can make it happen!