Road Trip Travel Tips from a Trucker

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Road trips are expensive, but they’re usually the cheapest way to take a vacation. If you have kids and pets along for the ride, you’re basically at the whim of their bladders and stomachs, so making good time and getting good gas mileage are out of the question. If you’re single or married without children, that opens the door for some other road trip options. If you’re a little more hardy than most and have a sense of adventure, you can save a lot of money and have a great time by traveling like a trucker.

Fuel Budget

Truckers have to worry about fuel economy. Diesel is expensive, hauling heavy things is expensive and long drives are expensive. Fortunately, truck drivers know the best ways to get as many miles out of a gallon of gas as they possibly can. You probably don’t have a governor (a device that makes sure you don’t exceed a certain speed) on your car, so you’re going to have to rely on yourself.

55 mph is an ideal speed. Make sure you’re always being safe and not endangering anyone behind you, but if you can set the cruise control to 55 you’ll be saving a ton on gas money. Keeping a constant speed whether you’re going uphill, downhill or just cruising across the flatlands is the key. Pretend there’s a device attached to your vehicle that won’t physically allow you to go over 55 mph and you’ll do great on gas.

Straight On ‘Til Morning

Truckers have places to be. There are deadlines. There’s no time to dillydally or make unnecessary stops. Making good time is the most important thing a trucker worries about. That being said, you’re probably not on any hard deadlines if you’re on a road trip, but it’s sometimes fun to pretend like you are. The trucker travel method involves making the least amount of stops possible and knocking out as many miles in one day as you can.

That being said, there’s never a reason to be unsafe. If you’re falling asleep or your bladder is bursting, it’s time to step out of the vehicle and take a little break. If you can hack it though, efficiency can be a great way to take a break from those “stop every half hour” road trips. You feel like you’re getting something done, and the constant driving makes up for the 55 mph speed. You’ll appreciate the progress and simplicity.

Enjoy the Scenery

Truckers have a lot of ‘thinking’ time. During those long drives, there’s a lot of time that’s spent just looking at the great open road. During those times, you learn to appreciate what you might not have otherwise even noticed. Sure, there are parts of the USA that are just miles of cornfields, but sometimes even what seems like a bland desert becomes breathtaking when you start looking at rock formations and riverbeds. It’s amazing how diverse this country is, and if you keep an open mind you might even see some things on the journey that impress you more than your destination will.

There’s no point in pouting or not enjoying the drive. If you look hard enough you’ll find something that changes your whole perspective on this country and its highway infrastructure. You’re seeing the nation for what it really is—not from the window of an airplane or from a car moving at 90 mph. You’re taking the time to soak it in.

Sleep Light

If you have a camp trailer or RV, you know all of this next section already—but there’s no certain time, place or length of time that you have to sleep. RVs and campers have access to great, cheap facilities that allow for any sleep schedule. Motorists without an RV have more limited options, but they definitely don’t have to stay in a Motel 6 from 10pm to 7am. There are camp grounds, youth hostels and a plethora of other options. Sleep as much as you need—or oversleep if you have the time. As long as you’ve made good progress, you’ve earned the sleep. Take it when you need it and don’t let other people dictate when you need to be sleeping.

It needs to be said again, though—never drive when you’re feeling sleepy. Safety is important, which is another thing that truckers are well aware of. Truck drivers spend a huge part of their lives on the road, and they take pride in their adherence to safety, laws and the unspoken rules of the road.

When you reach your destination, you’ll be happy and have more money. You’ll have more time to talk to the person accompanying you (or listen to good music by yourself) and you’ll appreciate the road that took you there. When you make good time and have some extra cash when you reach your end goal, you’re sure to make traveling the trucker way the go-to method for your next road trip.

Photo credit: Luc B

Hank Barton is a second-generation trucker and a first-generation writer. When Hank isn’t waxing philosophical, he writes about good driving practices, the trucker lifestyle and the beauty of the open road. . He writes for E-Gears, an online CDL Practice Test authority that specializes in a variety of study guides.

1 Comment

  1. Emily lomba

    April 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Long drive is expensive but interesting too much with your single wife. If you have idea, you can make a cheap long drive by following the trucker tips. Using patrol or fuel is expensive but instead of oil if to be use gas that gives a cheap result.

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