The price of shipping varies based on several variables: the amount and type of freight, the origin and destination, additional driver tasks, and more.
Holidays are another one of these variables. Drivers, like most people, want holidays off. When the holiday falls on a weekend or a Friday or a Monday, many will take the entire three days off.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we’ve had drivers on the road for nearly 70 years. That’s a lot of holidays, and a lot of long weekends. During that time, we’ve learned the ins and outs of shipping freight, including over holidays and weekends.
In this article, you will learn the nuances and challenges of shipping on and around holidays, and tips to make it easier to plan your holiday cargo shipments. With this information, you will be prepared to meet transportation deadlines year-round.
Challenges with Holiday Freight Shipping
Finding a driver and a shipping team is the main challenge with holiday shipping. Drivers want to spend the day with their loved ones, and it will be difficult to find a driver.
There are some drivers who choose to work holidays with the goal of making more money. If you are able to find a driver willing to drive on a holiday, expect to pay a premium as there is intense competition for a few drivers.
If your freight needs additional tasks, like tarping, expect to pay a premium for that as well. This is especially true of the winter holidays, when tarping is already uncomfortable and difficult due to the cold weather.
It’s not just drivers who don’t work holidays. Having staff available to load and unload your truck is also going to involve overtime pay (if you can find enough people to work).
No matter where or what you are shipping, staffing is going to be one of your biggest hurdles. Shipping oversize freight is going to be even more complicated.
Oversize Freight Restrictions on Holidays
Many states restrict or ban permitted freight travel on holidays, and nearly all permitting offices are closed. Holiday roads are especially busy, and engineering and law enforcement agencies are working with skeleton staff only.
Remember that over-dimensional permits are needed for every state along the route you are traveling, not just the origin and destination. It will be difficult or impossible to move OD freight on a holiday.
The best way to overcome these challenges is to avoid shipping on holidays and long weekends. Working with your carrier ahead of time can have other benefits as well.
Plan Ahead for Long Holiday Weekends
Before spending time with their families, drivers want to maximize their incomes as much as possible (they have to prepare for holiday spending too). If they can use your shipment to get closer to home, they may be willing to go out of their way or take slightly less pay for the lane.
This also holds true with Friday and Monday trips. The most cost-effective way to have a load moved on Friday afternoon or Monday morning is to have the driver drop off the load on Friday, spend the weekend with their family and then pick it up on Monday.
Hours of Service regulations are still in play during holiday weekends. If a driver can maximize their allowed drive time before and after the holiday, this allows them to keep their income steady while they are off the road (most drivers do not get paid time off).
What Are the Major Holidays in the Trucking Industry?
In the trucking industry, the big six holidays are the most popular for driver time off:
When planning shipments, remember that nearly all drivers will want these days off. However, some of these holidays have one or two additional days that many will want to take off (Christmas Eve, the Friday after Thanksgiving, etc.).
Many drivers are parents (and grandparents). They may plan to take off extra time that corresponds with school holidays, such as the period between Christmas and New Year’s and a vacation in the summer. Prepare for elevated pricing during these periods as there are fewer drivers on the road.
Some states will have over-dimensional freight restrictions on other holidays, like Presidents Day and Veterans Day. Keep up with the ATS Learning Hub for updates on these restrictions.
Knowing these holidays and preparing for them can help you avoid the messiness of holiday shipping, and help you get the most out of each of your freight shipments.
How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Shipping
Ideally, your business will be able to plan ahead and avoid shipping during holiday weeks. The best way to save money and have your freight delivered is to complete the haul before the holiday starts.
Drivers and carriers also plan for holiday transportation. Your carrier will use the driver’s holiday plans, their domicile and your deadlines to schedule the most efficient haul possible. Ideally, your load can be used to get the driver close to their home so they can spend additional time with their family.
If you have to ship on or near a holiday, here are some tips to ease the process.
Whenever possible, be flexible with your shipping needs. Around holidays, providing a window of time when they can arrive will make your load more appealing.
Holidays are busy on the nation’s roads and airports as Americans travel over the river and through the woods. Highway congestion will be frustrating and slow for the driver, especially those trying to finish up one last load before heading home to their families.
If you are able to widen your arrival window for the driver, that will make your freight less stressful and more appealing.
Being flexible around holidays may make it easier for the driver to combine your load with a trip home, which is extra important during the holiday season.
Being flexible can help counter holiday season delays, as shippers and receivers are nearly all working with reduced staff. If your driver is held up at an earlier location, they may not be able to make up the lost time.
Being prepared is always valuable in the trucking industry. During the busy season, allowing extra time will make it easier to find a driver and coordinate the delivery.
In the trucking industry, working with your carrier 24-48 hours before the shipment leaves is always best practice. When it comes to the holiday season, consider that a minimum notice for a successful shipment.
Increase Your Budget
Shipping during the holidays will cost more. There is increased competition for a smaller number of drivers. If your shipment must be delivered on or near a holiday, prepare for extra costs.
There are always drivers on the road, and it’s always possible for your freight to meet its ultimate destination. Following these tips will make it easier to secure a truck and driver.
How to Move Your Cargo Around the Holidays
The bottom line is that shipping on or near a holiday will come with added complications and fees. Planning to avoid these holidays is the most effective way to get your cargo to its destination on time and within your budget.
Understanding the complications trucking companies and drivers face around the holidays is one step toward easing holiday shipping headaches. Working with your provider can help increase your load tender acceptance rate.