If you have been an over the road trucker for a few decades or even a few years you have likely noticed a big change in the way that the locally owned and chain truck stops are designed. Today’s truck stops are a lot different than the old pump and diner truck stops of the past, and this is a good thing for truckers to take full advantage of.
Trends in design make these rest spots along the road a lot more beneficial to the drivers. They tend to be larger, roomier and overall much more of a one-stop place to get out, spend some time socializing and enjoying the company of others, and to have a healthy meal, shower and spend a bit of down time.
There are both the big name chains as well as the individually or locally owned options. Typically the big chain truck stops offer you a predictable and uniform set of features. It is estimated that the most numerous 50 chains in the United States and Canada make up about 40% of the truck stops across North America. This means that 60% are smaller companies that may have one or multiple locations, often situated within a specific state, province or geographic location.
One of the biggest changes in the food aspect of the modern truck stop is the variety of foods available. No longer are you restricted to basic diner foods or burgers. Instead you literally have a range of prepared or cooked to order items.
In the larger stops you may have several restaurants or fast food chains including national coffee shops, burgers, chicken, pizza and a traditional sit down diner area. Often the diner menu features the classic favorites, the comfort and home cooked options, as well as some less than traditional options.
Salads, sushi, steak, seafood, vegetarian and vegan options and even food “bars” that allow you to custom design your meal are a big hit. These restaurants tend to offer highly competitive prices and excellent meals that can be cooked just to your specifications.
Another change in the food offerings at many stops include handy pre-packaged salads, sandwiches and fruit cups or plates. These are usually made fresh on a daily basis and provide a healthy option to burgers and fries on the go. Fresh baked breads, pastries and cookies are typically available along with the standard chips, nuts, chocolate bars and candies.
While truck stops are not always designed as a destination stop, some of the new breed of stations are definitely geared at getting truckers to stay either in their rigs on site or in accommodations affiliated with the truck stop itself.
These stops tend to be the plaza style with a variety of services offered in one central location. They are not just geared to CDL drivers and may include a variety of attractions for families, vehicle drivers and those traveling round the country on vacation.
Motels, hotels, RV parks and acres of truck parting are often found on or very close to these locations. In addition drivers will enjoy driver lounges, games rooms, deluxe shower facilities and even outdoor parks, gardens and eating areas. These facilities tend to be popular with all types of travelers and are typically very well maintained year round. Dog walking trails and off-leash fenced areas are included in many of the large and small truck stop areas.
On site truck services are also a big addition to many truck stops. These can include tire repair and replacement, basic mechanic services, oil changes or full service diesel mechanic bays. Typically the mechanics and technicians at these facilities tend to be highly experienced in working on rigs and can provide fast service to get you back on the road.
With fleet cards and discounts you may be able to save significantly using these services if they are linked to your fleet fuel card plan. The plan provider typically lists all truck stops and chains where the card is honored for discounts or rewards points.
Some truck stops, especially those by major urban centers on interstate highways, may have these services available 24 hours or they may be open only during typical business hours. Roadside assistance, including big rig wreckers, can also be available or dispatched through these locations.
Truck washes are a popular option at both small and large truck stops. These may be do it yourself types or you can pay to have the truck and trailer cleaned while you spend some type relaxing and eating a good meal.
Truck stops have certainly changed over the years from a very basic place to eat and get fuel to a full service, full support type of outlet. There are several apps available for smartphones to help you located truck stops on a given route and help you identify the services available at each one.