For most of the year, Atlanta and Houston have been the two easiest places to find a van load on DAT TruckersEdge. Those cities are numbers 1 and 2 for load posts, but those loads haven't paid all that great, especially in Houston.
Houston is mostly a backhaul market, meaning that loads going into the city usually pay more than loads going out. There are some popular lanes out of Houston that do pay headhaul rates, though, like Houston to New Orleans, San Antonio, or Texarkana. You can use that to your advantage when planning a roundtrip.
Haul Two Loads on the Return Trip Instead of One
If you upgrade your load board subscription to DAT Express, you get our TriHaul tool, which gives you suggestions for triangular routes that pay better than a regular there-and-back roundtrip. You can also research the average rates paid on those lanes, so you can decide if the extra money is worth the time it'll take for the extra pick and drop.
Let's say you've got a load booked for Atlanta to Houston, which has paid $1.60/mile on average for the past week. The average rate for loads heading back from Houston to Atlanta is only $1.37/mile.
If you can fit it in your schedule, you'd be better off hauling a load from Houston to St. Louis or to Cape Girardeau, MO, about 120 miles to the south. The average rate on that trip is $1.44/mile, which isn't a whole lot better, but loads going from Cape Girardeau to Atlanta have paid $1.98/mile on average. You’d boost your loaded miles from 1,600 up to almost 2,000 miles, and the TriHaul will pay $869 better than the roundtrip. That gives you more than $3,200 for 2,000 miles.
Some truckers make it a point to drive 55 all the time to save fuel, but the speed limit is at least 70 in all the states you pass through in this TriHaul. So if it’s safe and economical for you to drive faster, you could get back to Atlanta with enough hours for another quick roundtrip, maybe to Charlotte. That's another $1,000 at today's rates, to finish your week on a high note.
Get the TriHaul tool by upgrading your load board subscription to DAT Express. If you're already a DAT customer, send us an email to get started or call 866.487.8253. Not already a customer? Sign up today to find higher-paying routes.