A truck stop is essentially a self-contained oasis designed to meet the needs of truckers and their big rigs as they travel the highways. A typical truck stop provides a fueling station with diesel fuel, a 24 hour restaurant for hunger truckers, a convenience store for snacks and beverages and often a motel for truckers who must get off the road for rest.
Original truck stops were strictly the domain of truck drivers, and generally off limits to passenger vehicles and tourists. Many truckers develop a camaraderie amongst themselves which would not be compatible with a family environment, and truck stop diners tended to be smoke-filled greasy spoons with limited menus.
Eventually the truck stop evolved into a more ecumenical entity known as a travel center. Truckers could still park their big rigs in special lots and enjoy a meal in the diner, but passenger vehicles and tour buses were encouraged to visit as well. A modern truck stop often features national restaurant franchises, game rooms, shower facilities and full-service garages for repairs.
Truck stops tend to be located near interstate highway off-ramps or other major traffic arteries away from developed areas. Truckers who travel the same routes regularly tend to know the locations of every truck stop along the way, and they often designate a particular truck stop as a preferred place to stop for the night or socialize with other truckers in the diner. Finding a convenient truckstop can also help truckers plan out their fuel stops or meal breaks while on company time.
An authentic truck stop, as opposed to the modern travel center, may be notoriously short on amenities. The operators of a truck stop generally understand the needs of their regular clientele, so their services may all be geared towards long-haul truckers, not the general public. It may be difficult or impossible for a passenger vehicle to purchase regular gasoline at a truck stop which caters to all-diesel big rigs, for example.