After a long, hard day on the road, truck drivers can pull in to one of the thousands of places along the road for the night to get some rest and relax. However, they cannot just stop anywhere - big trucks need to be able to maneuver safely and have enough room to park. And this is where the story of the truck stop begins.
Truck Stop Basics
Truckers put in long hours and trucking can be a stressful job even on the best of days. When it is time to take a break, a trucker has to make the most of it. With limited time and the need for specific amenities, truckers are at the mercy of the truck stops along the road they travel. At minimum, a trucker needs:
- Food - You are bound to be hungry after a day at the wheel
- Fuel - Stopping is also a great time to fuel up
- Parking - There is not much point in stopping if you can't easily park
- Cleanliness - clean restrooms, showers and food stops
- Convenient Location - Close to cities and highways is important
With the basics covered, the incentive to stop then becomes about the "beyond the basic" specialized amenities that make truck stops stand out from the others along the road. Years ago, truck stops were home style mom-and-pop shops with greasy spoon diners where you could fuel up. Now? Many the large chains have introduced truck stops “mini-cities” along the asphalt jungle offering the basics along with specialized amenities such as:
- Truck Repairs
- Truck Wash Services
- Bowling Alleys
- Movie Theaters
- Barber Shops
- Medical and Dentist Services
How to Choose?
These modern sanctuaries are all vying for a trucker’s business. Sit down for a meal, fuel up here, stop in here! How do you choose where to stop?
No two individually owned truck stops are the same. Even the larger chains have differences between locations. Knowing what each truck stop offers will be key to planning a successful trip and ensuring that you get what is important to you when you need to fuel up and take some down time.
Knowing Your Route
Experienced drivers know their routes and stops from time at the wheel. They have stopped at both the good and the bad and they have learned from their experiences. Planning your route ahead of time and knowing what stops are available to you will help you in deciding where to stop and when. This will help both plan your day with scheduled rest periods and help you build some routine "me" time into your day. It can also save you money if you know that the stops you choose have the necessary amenities when you need them.
Large Chain or Small Independent
Before the large truck stop chains began gracing the interstate highways, it was the one-off mom-and-pop establishments that were the norm. Smaller independents offered a rustic charm and a down home welcome, but as the larger chains moved in, the landscape changed. With the gleam and uniformity of the large chains also came new services and programs.
Many of the large chains often offer loyalty incentives, club cards, and even bonus points that you can use towards free services like showers or movies. Every point you earn is savings in your pocket. If you can get free food or showering services through a loyalty card by purchasing something you needed anyway, it results in lowering your overall costs and increasing your profit.
You can still find the smaller independents on the road – there are just fewer of them than there used to be. The smaller independents often offer specialty services in order to compensate for their lack of locations. For example, they might have medical services onsite or even entertainment like movie rooms that make your downtime more relaxing.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what services best support what you need and want in a truck stop! Be picky, you deserve the best! And, if you are ever in an area that is not familiar to you and need a place to stop, get on your CB and ask some of the local truck community where the best places are!
BigRoad's Top 5 Truck Stops!
1. Snap Bros - Sidney, NB
For this truck stop it is all about superior customer service. The bathrooms here are the epitome of classy with their granite counters. Snap Bros pride themselves on the cleanliness of their facility so much so that if you are unhappy with anything, you can page someone to come fix it.
2. Jubitz Travel Center, Portland, OR
The Jubitz has it all from a fabulous restaurant (Jubitz Cascade Grill), to live entertainment, poker nights, and even dance lessons. Mambo anyone?
3. Davis Travel Center - Stony Creek, Virginia
Truckers with pets love that this facility has a full dog park where they can take their friends to stretch their legs. Besides being pet friendly, this stop is known for being very clean and having excellent customer service.
4. South of the Border - Dillon, NC
The Border has six awesome restaurants, the largest indoor reptile exhibit in the USA and Pedroland, an amusement park with rides, mini golf, and even an arcade.
5. The Iowa 80 - Walcott, IA
The Iowa 80 is the world’s largest truck stop that sees over 5000 travelers every day! Built in 1964, Bill Moon built this mini-city truck stop based on feedback from the trucker community about the services that would make their lives on the road easier. Unique services like an on-site Dentist and Chiropractor, a movie theater, and even a 50-foot salad bar make this truck stop an unforgettable one.
Do you have a favorite stop that didn’t make our Top 5? Tell us your favorites in the comments below!
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