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Trip Planning


Trip planning is essential to every trucker’s job. Not only is it a common sense thing that should be done. It will make your job easier, more efficient, save you time, and save you frustration. This will decrease time spent on your loads and in turn allow you to get more loads which equals more money! This is how I trip plan for every load I get, and it takes me 5 minutes or less. Back when I first started we didn’t have smartphones and the GPS’s weren’t advanced enough to help so trip planning involved using a map book and took considerably longer.

  1. Looking up shippers and receivers on Google Maps.

My trip planning is simple, I look up the shipper and receiver on Google maps to find the layout of the places. This is especially helpful at night because some shippers and receivers have small signs or signs that are not well lit or not lit at all and you may miss the entrance. I give myself 60mph to plan how long it will take. 600 miles will take 10 hours. I know it will take less but you want to under estimate.

Is it all interstate or all backroads or a mixture, am I going to be driving though big and densely populated cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, etc? If so I add 2-4 hours as a cushion. As I get closer I adjust my calculations to fit the miles I have left to travel as some shippers or receivers don’t allow you to get there more than 1-2 hours early.

  1. Details of you load.

I take a picture of the details on the tablet, qualcomm, or whatever computer system that dispatches your loads. If you get that information on your phone take a screenshot as in some areas you may not have a signal and your app won’t load. The information I am looking to save is load numbers, delivery numbers, special instruction, phone numbers and stuff like that. To me it’s way easier than writing all that out.

  1. Look for the best route to your destination.

I have trucker gps app on my iPhone that I use to see if the route the company GPS is routing me is the best route, if not I go by my app. I use an app called TruckBook. It is basically Facebook for truckers, it is really cool. But it also has a GPS function and I like it a lot. You can set the parameters to favor interstates over small back roads or whatever you like. It is a free app so at least try it and see if you like it.

  1. Check the weather.

Every trucker should know what the weather will be along their route. I have the weather channel app. I check that to see what the weather is like along my route. THIS IS A MUST IN THE WINTER! The weather channel app can also give you a radar like screen of high wind areas. That’s helpful in the Midwest. Go to the radar section and you can change it to other options.

You don’t want to run through an area and all of a sudden run into a huge rain storm with high winds and possible flood warnings or a huge snow storm that will not let you get to a truck stop or rest area to wait it out. Plus, if you know about this ahead of time you can add that to your travel time and have a more accurate ETA. An accurate ETA is a truck drivers best friend.

  1. Know where truck stops, rest areas, and weigh stations are.

Check for truck stops and rest areas close to shippers and receivers. You may not make it in one shot but can get close. Also check for weigh stations along the way, as more knowledge of what is on your route is always better than less. I use Trucker Path which is a free app that tells you where truck stops, rest areas, weigh stations, scale houses, truck washes and other places are located along your route. It will even tell you where all the Walmart’s are. That is a huge help when you know you are running low on food or other supplies and need to get more food.

So there it is! That is how I trip plan the loads I get. You will develop your own way to do it but if you start off with what I do and tweak it to better fit your way of doing things you will be better off. Even if you don’t do anything of what I have listed, YOU NEED TO DO TRIP PLANNING! Every trucker needs to do some form of trip planning. I know I sound like a broken record but I can’t stress that point enough. If you trip plan you will be a more successful truck driver which will allow you to earn more money.

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