As a professional driver, you should have an interest in knowing what's happening in your industry. The best place to do this is at a truck show. You can learn about the latest technology and legislation, make new friends or meet with old ones and enjoy a concert or two.
Attending a truck (or trade) show should be on your list of things to do in the near future. If you're an owner-operator or independent contractor, you could even write your trip off as a valid business expense. (Check with your accountant on which expenses are deductible.)
Check out industry calendars for truck show dates and times, and start planning now. The largest shows are Mid-America Trucking Show (Louisville, Ky.) in March and the Great West Truck Show (Dallas) in August. There are many more shows around the country each year, so try an Internet search for truck shows in the U.S. and Canada.
Once you've made your decision to attend an event, start planning your trip right away. You will want to look at the Web site first, and if there are hotels listed, use them. The show planners work hard to negotiate the best rates for attendees, and they are expected to fill these rooms in order to maintain these prices. When you book your room, tell them you're attending the show and they'll put you in the reserved room block.
Keep watching the show's Web site and look for entertainment, which is often free for professional drivers and their families. You also can find a list of exhibitors who will bring celebrities to the show for autograph sessions or receptions. If you've always wanted to meet an “Ice Road Trucker” or get your picture taken with a racecar driver, here is the place to make memories.
Look at the list of daily activities and plan around your favorites. When an exhibitor promotes a concert, they will usually want you to visit their booth to obtain tickets for the event. The lines are often long, so get there early and bring a friend with you to help pass the time.
Trade shows are the place where manufacturers bring out their latest equipment. As a professional driver, you are their target audience and they want you to look at the new technology, check out the cab comforts, and admire the beautiful paint jobs on their trucks. Owner-operators can start dreaming about their next new rig, and company drivers can think about this next step in their career.
If you bring your family to a truck show, they can learn more about your chosen career. Have them stop at the state patrol's booth and pick up maps and key chains. Let them listen in when you talk to a recruiter about job opportunities and they'll better understand the different types of jobs available in the industry. Take them into the cab of next year's model tractor and they'll be impressed with the updates.
Don't forget to pack your walking shoes, as there are miles of aisles and very few places to rest your feet. You'll spend a great deal of time just walking from booth to booth, and you won't find many benches or chairs along the way. If you're bringing little kids, put them in a wagon or stroller so you won't have to carry then when they become weary.
One of the fun things many folks look forward to is the availability of freebies, or bling! You won't have to buy a pen in a long time if you pick one up at every other booth! Pencils, flashlights, gift bags, key chains, rulers, hats and many other items are brought by exhibitors who want you to remember their name and logo after the event. Fill your bag with these goodies and toss in some of the candy for a treat later.
There will be many raffles and door-prize opportunities, so bring your address labels or stamp to the show. That will help you breeze through these entry cards. Some contests are open to professional drivers only, so be sure to put your name in the box to win GPS systems, coolers, tires and many more prizes specific to those who drive a truck.
Truck shows are a great way to spend a few days between loads, so start planning now for an event that features you, the professional driver. Have fun, and stop at the Women In Trucking booth and say hello!
Mission: Women In Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.
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