I’ve learned over many years of massive moves and start-overs that I’m a minimalist gypsy with slight pack-rat tendencies.

Because in the long run, it’s (a lot) cheaper to carry what you can with you rather than throw it out and then at some point in the future have to replace it all again… repeatedly.

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This was a particularly difficult pack. Young Brothers does permit you to transport some belongings in your car if you sign a waiver releasing them from any and all responsibility and liability, but they tell you not to, in no uncertain terms, because of the possibility of theft. And if you do decide to take the risk, nothing can go in the front seats, behind the driver seat, or past the bottoms of the windows. In a car like mine, that is very limiting. Also, everything must be properly secured. I found that to be extremely vague, and the vagueness caused me a bit of panic as I looked over my packed hatchback full of my bagged belongings. Recyclable bags are the best. Seriously. But not necessarily secure.

I scoured the web but found very little info on people’s experiences shipping (packed) cars with Young Brothers, other than a few describing how their car arrived destroyed, or empty, etc., etc. So I’m outlining my experience here in hopes that at some point it may help another clueless wanderer making an inter-island move and wanting to ship a packed car.

I spent the afternoon before my departure packing, repacking, and attempting to at least make the jumbled mess appear to be a little more secure. But at some point, I had to shut the hatch on it and hope for the best. And it was a huge hope, because I had limited time to drop my car off at the docks the next morning before I had to be at the airport to catch my flight.  I was carrying on and checking the most valuable of my equipment and it was the max I could handle transporting myself, so if I was rejected or told I couldn’t have my car that full I would have been slightly screwed.

Actually, thoroughly screwed.

More hair loss.

Not much sleep happened that night, as I was envisioning having to dump the majority of my limited belongings into the dumpster at the docks. Or dropping off a full car on the Oahu end and picking up an empty car on the Maui end. After all, the cars spend 2-3 days sitting unlocked and, for the most part, unsupervised.

I was up bright and early to finish last-minute packing, the last thing being a massive canvas in a cardboard box that, although securely packaged, went somewhat dramatically over the bottoms of the windows. Oops. I’d called Young Brothers the day before and, after spending an hour on hold, spoke with someone who told me that the lenience on that particular rule varied and depended solely on the mood of the person working that day.  I would recommend taking donuts down to the docks with you.

So, a little walk-through of the process.

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Make sure your car has 1/4 tank of gas or less when you drop it off. Once you arrive at the docks, you’ll be checked-in at the front gate and directed around the back toward the intake office. No one without a drivers license or ID is permitted beyond the front gate, so if you have people with you or another vehicle tagging along to take you to your next destination, make sure they all have an ID even if they’re not driving.

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Once at the intake office, take a number and complete a Bill of Lading while you wait. You’ll need to have your driver’s license, insurance, registration, and proof of current safety check with you.

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It might be a long wait. Be prepared to get a little bored. This would be a good time to observe the general energy in the room and formulate a plan of action to boost your inspector’s mood when your number gets called. Unless he already looks jolly. In that case, you can breathe a sigh of relief and relax.

On the day that I was there, six employees had called in sick (there was a swell) so apparently the wait was longer than normal. It was an hour before my number was called, and after going over my documents,  we went out to have a look at my car.  The inspector worked his way around the car, making notes of existing dents and scratches. My car has a lot. He spent extra time studying the claw marks down one of the sides, looking me over as thoroughly as the car and saying that I definitely know how to have a good time and he was jealous of my boyfriend (the real story was so not as interesting as the one he was playing out in his head, but again, good mood is key so I let him be.)

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I talked a lot in an effort to distract him, which was good for two reasons: 1) He didn’t even glance inside the overly-packed car, 2) I learned all sorts of interesting tidbits about the company and past happenings that probably shouldn’t have been shared. So I would definitely recommend this.

He signed off on the documents, attached the tags to my car, shook my hand, and that was it. It was that easy.

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Two days later, I headed to the docks in Kahului to pick it up. After showing my ID and paperwork, I was given the keys,  directed to a huge lot of cars, and wished “good luck” in finding mine. Again, easy breezy (once I located my car, that is.) It was salt-encrusted but carried no new dents (not that it would have mattered if it had), and everything in it was untouched. For some reason I can’t run the AC without sneezing profusely, but that’s a minor detail that (hopefully) will sort itself out at some point. As a whole, my experience with Young Brothers was a very positive one and I only wish I could have shipped myself over with it, as well.

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A few things to keep in mind…

1. If you’re shipping your vehicle inter-island in Hawaii, Young Brothers is basically your only option.

2. Make sure you have a reservation at least two weeks in advance, but…

3. Be aware that even though you have a reservation, it’s no guarantee that your car will actually make it onto the boat on the reserved date. Welcome to Hawaii.

4. There’s a rather large disconnect between the “front” (booking) office and the “back” (where-it-all-actually-happens) office, so don’t necessarily trust anything you’re told by the front office as fact.

5. If you’ve got a fancy car or are at all invested in maintaining it’s “perfection” … you might want to get it a container.