A Guide to Domestic Shipping Methods in the United States 

    The United States is a vast and topographically diverse country. A huge amount of freight is shipped domestically every day. This is a guide to some of the most popular domestic shipping methods in use today. You should consider the environmental impact of any shipping method that you choose to employ. 


    Vast quantities of goods are delivered domestically using the road network. Most land-based shipping work in the USA takes the form of truckload contracts. These contracts ensure that a hauler carries a single load for their client. The exclusivity of these contracts makes deliveries swift because it prevents truckers from having to make multiple delivery stops along a journey. 

    Less Than Truckload

    Truckers often look on load boards, such as those hosted by Shiply, to find partial loads for their shipping work. Less Than Truckload shipping is very cheap – truckers and logistical companies often take on partial loads at very competitive rates just to make sure that their vehicles are full as much of the time as possible. If you choose to ship goods using this method, you can expect deliveries to take a little longer than if you had purchased the exclusive labour of a haulage professional. 


    Although the passenger rail system in the United States of America is notoriously poor, the rail freight sector is thriving. Rail was one of the first truly efficient ways of sending goods long distances in the USA. Because trains can pull long chains of carriages, the economy of scale can be utilised effectively. Trains are very fuel efficient because of the way they rest on the track using only a very slim flange of the wheel. A great deal of the American rail freight infrastructure is archaic, but that does not stop it from being extremely useful. 


    In 2020, over 25 billion pounds of domestic air freight was processed in the United States. This reflects the need, in the 21st Century, for extremely swift delivery times. Air freight is expensive and bad for the environment, but it is immensely quick. Shipping was one of the first uses of the aeroplane when it was invented at the turn of the 20th Century. Early delivery aircraft were responsible for the conveyance of high-priority mail across the continent. So-called ‘mail planes’ were some of the first truly practical aircraft. 


    The United States has a relatively small domestic waterborne shipping industry. Most goods shipped within the country are transported either on or above the land. Unlike some countries – like Holland and Vietnam – in which canal and river networks provide crucial shipping links, the United States relies very little on water to transport goods. If you happen to live in the Great Lakes area, however, you’ll know that there are some local exceptions. A huge amount of freight is shipped on the great lakes. Ships are far more efficient in terms of fuel expenditure per ton of produce than trucks or aircraft.

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