(New York Post) In celebration of their one-year wedding anniversary in July, New York newlyweds Jessica Johnston, 29, and husband Dom Rand, 34, decided to take a trip they’d never forget — and went viral in the process.
Rather than book an overpriced flight during one of the most chaotic travel summers on record, or waste money on expensive Ubers to take a chance on a restaurant battling it out with inflation and staff shortages, the couple rented a U-Haul pickup truck for $19.95, and went tailgating at the local drive-in.
The social media savvy Johnston, who works for a small coffee startup, posted a video of the couple’s cheap night out, racking up 1.4 million views on TikTok.
“My husband and I are always looking for unique, out-of-the box date ideas,” Johnston, from the western New York town of Dunkirk told The Post. “So, we thought renting a U-Haul, grabbing some snacks and catching a double movie marathon at a drive-in theater would be a really fun way to spend our first wedding anniversary.”
Johnston, a social media manager, opted to rent a pickup truck from U-Haul rather than a car rental service in an effort to minimize her costs.Jessica Johnston
A growing number of avant-garde millennial and Gen Z sweethearts are ditching established, more expensive date night and anniversary rituals for a night of amore in the back of U-Hauls. Some couples are eagerly showing off their creative, low-cost reimaginings of the rental vehicles to social media, and the internet is loving the ride.
In a viral clip with more than 722,000 TikTok views, two Texas-based darlings snagged a box truck from the company, plopped a plush mattress in the back, picked up eats from Chili’s “two for $25” menu and enjoyed an intimate feast in the restaurant’s parking lot.
Another set of sweeties drew over 332,000 online eyes to their U-Haul rendezvous. Impressed commentators were inspired by the date, leaving remarks like, “Love this idea” and “Awww I want to [do this].”
@meet_the_mccollums #fyp #fypシ #foryoupage #viral #Uhauldate #datenight @victoriamccollum8 #deliverusfromeva #couplestiktok ♬ original sound – Mul-ty Muzic
U-Haul did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment on the trend.
Johnston and Rand, a construction worker, decorated their U-Haul truck’s cargo bed with an inflatable mattress, plush pillows and a burnt orange blanket, all brought from home. They secured the makeshift love pad to the back of the pickup with professional ratchet straps from Rand’s job.
Then, before parking the U-Haul for a $10 back-to-back viewing of “Thor” and “Dr. Strange” at a newly reopened drive-in not far from their home, the pair hit Walmart for chips, cheese doodles, Sour Patch Kids and other snacks, costing around $30.
In total, including the $5 of gas they used to refill the tank and the cost-per-mileage — U-Haul charged $.89 for each mile they traveled in addition to the initial rental fee, which came to about $13 — Johnston and her hubby spent a measly $80 for the outing.
Johnston and Rand scored over one million views on footage of their U-Haul date night experience.Jessica Johnston
“It was much cheaper to rent the U-Haul than actually buying a $18,000 truck,” she laughed. “And even renting a truck [from a typical car rental company] would have cost at least $100 for the day. This was 100% worth it.”
The U-Haul date night craze is fast making tracks across the country.
Diana Del Muro’s jaw hit the floor when her boyfriend, Blain Haskin, pulled up to her Fresno, Calif. abode in a clunky U-Haul box truck and told her to hop in for a surprise back in August 2020.
Little did she know that Haskin, 24, had transformed the unembellished interior of the 5,700-pound semi into a fantasy suite, complete with a comfy futon bed, LED candles, flowers, wine and trays of their favorite sushi rolls.
“When he came to my house I was like, ‘What is going on? What is in this f- -king U-Haul?,’” Del Muro, a 21-year-old psychology major at Fresno State, told The Post.