Perhaps you’ve been there … It’s fast approaching dinnertime. Everyone is getting a bit hangry (hungry and angry) and needing to stretch. Face it. You tried to cram too much travel time into one day. What to do first? Get food? Try and find an RV park in the area and hope by some miracle they have a site for your rig? Pull over at the next rest area and try to catch a few winks? Before your fellow travelers get too overwrought, find the nearest truck stop. Yes, you read that right!
Not just for truckers
What makes a truck stop so great? Take a look at the RV-friendly amenities offered at many of these highway respites, like Love’s Travel Stops, Pilot Flying J, and more.
- Food. Even the picky eater in your group will find something they like to eat. In most cases, well-known restaurant chains are located right inside the truck stop – like Arby’s, Wendy’s, Subway, Taco Bell, DQ, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Huddle House. Just hungry for a sweet pick-me-up? Some Pilot Flying J locations feature Cinnabon and Carvel.
- RV parking. You don’t need to worry about finding space for your big rig. Truck stop parking lots are big. Really big! And many feature special areas for RVs to park. Even overnight! You can book a site with full hookups at some Love’s Travel Stops. Check here.
- Laundry. Heading home from a week’s worth of travel? You can do your laundry before you get home!
- Dumpsites. Check out this PDF to see if your Pilot/Flying J has this service.
- Private showers. If you’ve been dry camping, this can mean the difference between another night of sticking to the sleeping bag lining or sleeping clean and comfortably.
- To go. Truck stops have great coffee, but many stores also offer fresh fruits, handy grab-n-go snacks, and soft drinks, too.
- Propane. Most truck stops offer both bulk propane refills and small propane exchange tanks for your grill.
- Tire repair and more. Yes, you may be able to get that spare tire fixed at the truck stop. Some places also have general mechanics for your convenience.
- Dog parks. All newly built Love’s Travel Stops incorporate this amenity, as do many of its competitors. Older stops are adding this feature, as well.
- Wi-Fi. Every national truck stop chain we’ve stopped in has offered free Wi-Fi. Most have a consistently strong signal, too.
Of course, there are downsides to stopping in a highway truck stop. Here are just a few:
- The high volume of traffic means you’ll need to be alert as you follow signage for RV-friendly fuel lanes. If the RV fuel lanes are full you can use the trucker fuel lanes. Just be sure to pull well away from the pumps once you’ve gassed up. (Those truckers want to get back on the road ASAP!)
- Overnight stays in a truck stop can be noisy! You may have diesel transporter trucks entering the station for fuel throughout the night. Most truck stops are located right next to the interstate highway, so you’ll have constant traffic noise, as well.
- Fuel prices can be higher at truck stops than stations a bit farther off the highway. Check apps like GasBuddy to compare prices. Know that smaller fuel stations may not be able to accommodate your rig’s size – specifically overhead clearance.
- Stopping at national-brand mega truck stops also means you’ll miss some of the local flavor of the region. (Although we have seen boiled peanuts in some of the big truck stops in the South.) That said, even Cinnabon can’t beat a good, local, mom-and-pop-owned restaurant.
When you travel, do you stop at truck stops? Have you ever stayed overnight at a truck stop? We’d love to hear what you think! Please share in the comments below.