Courtesy Atlas Van Lines
An Atlas van on the road.
Truckers, it’s often said, know the best places to eat on the road. It's no surprise that they also have opinions on where to bunk down, where to fuel up on gas and coffee and even which antacid provides the quickest relief.
Those are among the results of the eighth annual King of the Road survey. Produced by the Atlas Van Lines moving company, the survey quantified the preferences of drivers who regularly spend 30 weeks on the road annually and collectively log close to 100 million miles per year.
Citing feedback from both short- and long-haul drivers, the results provide insights “from both the locals who know their towns best and the road warriors who spend more than half of their year on the road,” said Glen Dunkerson, chairman and CEO of Atlas World Group.
"For those of us with fewer miles on our odometers, maybe planning to take the occasional road trip or otherwise trying to make the best of a long drive, this insight can make for a more fun and enjoyable experience,” he said.
So if you’re starting to plan that summer road trip, here’s what the guys in the big rigs recommend:
Best hotel chain: When asked to name the most important factor(s) when choosing a hotel, respondents’ top three reasons were truck parking/access (duh!), price and quality. The winner: Super 8, followed by Days Inn and Best Western.
Best rest stops: When you gotta go, you gotta go. The survey doesn’t offer insights into specific attributes — Cleanliness? Number of stalls? Scenery? — but the top states for pit stops were Florida, Ohio and Texas.
Best coffee: Forget the venti half-caf macchiato with soy milk — these truckers run on Dunkin’. The chain, of course, also serves flavored and fancy coffee drinks but we suspect it’s good ol' Joe that helped the company beat out the likes of Starbucks, McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s.
Favorite snack: With 57 percent of respondents saying that eating right was the biggest challenge of life on the road, it’s encouraging that the snacks cited most were fresh fruit and Planter’s Peanuts/mixed nuts. Then again, with the next three spots going to MMs, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Doritos, that challenge is apparently unconquered.
Best places to eat: The survey took a two-fold approach, asking drivers to name the “best restaurant in America” as well as their favorite fast-food restaurant. For the former, the Iron Skillet at Petro truck stops was ranked first, followed by a four-way tie for second (Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, Longhorn Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse) and Red Lobster in third.
As for the latter, Subway topped the list, which, like the fresh fruit cited above, suggests a nod to healthier dining. Alas, the rest of the list reads more like a heartburn hall of fame, with spots two through four going to Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Which, of course, begs the obvious question to which the answer is Tums, preferred by more than one-third of the respondents, followed by Rolaids, Pepcid and Zantac.
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.