I Crossed The Canadian Border In A UHaul Truck. And I Wasn’t Moving.

An international vacation suddenly falls apart and unexpectedly ends with a high-stakes border crossing.

Zach Quinn
5 min readSep 18


Lumbering through the Montreal City center, my wife navigated tight 19th century streets in a vehicle better suited for a cul-de-sac or a college quad while I struggled with my task — using a compass.

The iPhone’s compass app more precisely.

While my compass adjusted itself to point north, I adjusted my navigation setup.

This consisted of a phone on airplane mode, a compass I’ve tried to delete and screenshots of a route we may or may not actually be taking.

I suppose if I really wanted a vintage navigator vibe I would have printed them out and fumbled with them, MapQuest style.

Thankfully I didn’t have to play navigator long. After a few turns my wife determined we were going in circles.

At a red light she glanced at the only reference point we had, our blinking blue dot on offline Google Maps, and charted a new, much more direct course toward one of the main highways that led to the US border.

Not only did we need to “escape” Canada, we also needed to pick up a more permanent (and less top-heavy) rental in the US.

Oh, and at this point we had 75 min until our rental vendor, sitting just on the edge of the University of Vermont’s campus, closed for the day.

Unfortunately we had a 90 min drive ahead with no GPS, limited English signage and no phone service to call and modify our reservation.

Had this been a normal situation, I would have calmly resolved to “figure it out” when we regained cellular service.

However, the fact that we were racing down a Canadian highway in a box truck should emphasize how desperate we were not just for a rental, but for a means to cross the border, period.

Google Maps screenshot.
Our route to the Vermont/Canada border. Screenshot courtesy of the author.

I know this because we spent the previous 24 hours trying to find what, in 2023, has become a surprisingly scarce resource: A rental car.

Since we had been in France the previous month, we were unable to make international…



Zach Quinn

Journalist—>Data Engineer; helping you target, land and excel in data-driven roles.