Trucker Thanksgiving Trip
Money Saving Tips

We had a Thanksgiving trip over the road in a big truck three times.

What we mean is that we were under a load and working while lots of folks in the USA enjoyed that holiday and "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving -- known as the "biggest shopping day of the year") as time off work.

We certainly didn't feel sorry for ourselves. We had jobs and were earning money. The freight was good for the 9-week stretch from October to Christmas.

Of course, our family consisted of just the two of us, so there was no push for us to "be home." Our truck was our home during those times since we were "homeless" then.

If you have to be "on the road" and taking a Thanksgiving trip yourself, opportunities for savings still abound. We'll reveal some things that you can do even on or from the road.

truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tips: For your convenience, we have broken up our money saving tips into the categories as shown below.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Food

  • There may still be truck stops that offer a free meal to CDL drivers in their restaurants on Thanksgiving Day. The first two years we drove OTR, we enjoyed such a meal at truck stops in New Mexico. All we had to do was show our commercial drivers licenses. For a list of various chains, see our diesel fuel prices page.
  • Thanksgiving dinner prepared in a big truck.If you cannot find a freebie meal, you can make one for less money than some expensive truck stop meals (the ones that have 3 or 4 meats on the buffet and all the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes).

    We detailed this on our Thanksgiving Dinner page and video.
    If you don't like turkey or ham as entrees, then eat what you like. Still, the prices of traditional Thanksgiving meats may be lower at this time of year.

    You don't have to get a regular turkey; a turkey breast can fit down into many medium-sized crock pots to cook.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Shopping and Finances

  • Since you're in a big rig and the parking lots for many stores may be jammed full of shoppers, don't try to compete for space. Shop ahead of time for foodstuffs, such as early in the week.
  • Be aware that some Black Friday sales are available only on the web (over the Internet). Some stores' websites have certain items listed for sale only online year-round. Furthermore, some stores are having "pre-Black Friday" sales this year.
  • Credit card in hand.If you usually use a credit card to pay for your purchases, don't forget to look for special savings or cash back rewards points for certain categories of purchases during certain months.

    One of our favorite credit cards increase the percentage of cash back rewards from 1% to 5% during certain months for certain categories of goods.

    Of course, you don't want to buy more than you normally would just to get the rewards. You still have to pay for what you charge.
  • Hopefully, you've been working on meeting the financial goals you set and have saved up money for whatever Christmas gifts you want to buy this year. The money you saved will help you either pay cash or avoid paying interest on your credit card balance (if you have one). As one astute speaker said, "Some people pay interest, others earn interest. Which are you?" Personally, we'd rather be earning interest than paying it.
  • If this is the time of year when you normally do your Christmas shopping, it might be a good idea to evaluate why you give what you give.

    We have a friend who visited an out-of-town relative during Christmas 2010. When gifts were exchanged, he expressed to us his dismay over the size (cost) of the gift he received versus what he had been given, especially in contrast to what the relative gave others in the family.

    This mental "comparison" of gifts tends to lead to competition or bitterness, neither of which is healthy. Vicki urged our friend not to focus on the size of the gift because he didn't know what was in his relative's heart, mind or budget.
  • We cover trucker accessories separately. These are tools that are good to use in your truck all year long.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Family

  • A mother and son under a tree in the fall, as if during Thanksgiving.No one can take your place at home. Do what you can to ease the ache of family members who want you to be home at this time of the year when you can't be.

    If you can't be home on Thanksgiving, family members will most likely appreciate it if you contact them, such as by calling on the phone. An alternative to calling is to send an email. It's also faster than mailing home a card (even though you can do that, too).

    If your trucking company pays a holiday bonus (for OTR drivers) or time-and-a-half (for local drivers) or some higher pay rate than you would normally be paid -- just for working on Thanksgiving Day -- this may be too big an incentive to pass by. Discuss this with your loved ones. It is possible that your home support team can celebrate the holiday with you on a different day.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Traffic and Traveling

  • Heavy traffic on the road including big trucks and cars.If it works well for you, see if you can avoid big snarls of traffic by routing yourself around areas that are prone to having congestion. Some GPS units may be able to help.

    You can view current traffic conditions (inasmuch as they have been updated) on Google Maps. When you pull up a map, click on the box in the upper right hand corner. (If you receive Internet while traveling, be aware that traffic updates take up more data than views of roads.)
  • In 2011, the American Trucking Associations published a news release citing AAA's prediction that "[o]ver 42.5 million motorists are expected to travel over 50 miles" this year between Wednesday and Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend."
    (reference removed)

    In 2013, the number of Thanksgiving trip travelers was expected to be 43.4 million.(link)
  • While traveling, allow plenty of following distance and anticipate the moves of other motorists.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Safety

  • Wherever you park, be aware of the potential for slick spots at freezing or near-freezing temperatures, for both you and your truck. Sometimes leaves that fall can cover a slushy or icy spot that, when stepped on, can slip right out from under your feet. Unless the ground is perfectly dry in freezing temperatures, there is always a potential hazard.
  • Use three points of contact when getting out of or into your truck. Flatbed drivers need to be especially careful when getting up on their loads in cold weather.

Thanksgiving Trip Tips: Give Thanks

  • A man praying.It's a good practice to give thanks. Many of us have been blessed by our Creator in many ways. You may wish to read about the origin of America's annual Thanksgiving Day or our Thanksgiving prayer.
  • It's also helpful to remember the folks who have helped you get where you are or are helping you get where you want to be. Who is on your list to receive a word of thanks?
  • We are grateful to you, our readers, for helping us make the place on the web to help all professional truck drivers save money. Thanks so much.

Return from Trucker Thanksgiving Trip Money Saving Tips to our Budgeting page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.

We personally use and recommend the service described in this webinar...

How to Pay Less Taxes and Never Worry About an IRS Audit

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