Whether you are driving regional or long-distance routes, truck drivers spend extended periods of time on the road, often between towns and modern conveniences. Your cab becomes your office, and sometimes your home away from home while living on the road.
You also need just about everything within safe reach of the driver’s seat, especially if you are driving solo. Inexperienced drivers often find it difficult to stay comfortable and reasonably well entertained while also safely operating the vehicle.
Old hands at truck driving know all the tricks to make living on the road easier, but there are many new drivers who are getting their CDLs to fill the nationwide shortage of truck drivers that the market is facing today. With better employment packages and better-balanced roles than ever before, now is an important time for people who love to drive to take up life on the road. We’re here to help you stay comfortable, safe, and entertained with a few smart tips that make road life more enjoyable with every mile.
1. Build a Personal Caddy in the Passenger’s Seat While Living on the Road
If there is one single tip we can give to new truck drivers to make road life easier, it’s the caddy. A “caddy” is not just for golf, it’s any foldable storage item that has a few useful pockets. In the car, you want a passenger-seat caddy if you don’t have a partner, or a between-the-seats caddy if you do. A passenger seat caddy straps to the back of the passenger seat and sometimes belts in. It can, indeed, be a flat rack of pockets – kind of like a hanging shoe rack – or it can be a fabric box that folds out into compartments – or both.
Both designs are useful because they keep the things you need at hand, and we prefer the fold-out boxy style because it has more capacity and is easier to reach from the driver’s seat. Here, you can stock absolutely everything a truck driver needs to have on hand without letting go of the wheel. Here’s a quick checklist of all the things we’d load into the caddy:
Snacks and Drinks
● Filter water bottle
● Bottled sports drink
● Protein bars
● Wrapped sandwiches
● Individual snack bags
Personal Care and Road Hygiene
● Wet wipes
● Witch-hazel toner
● Nail clippers and cuticle nippers
● Personal meds
Maintenance and Cleaning While Living on the Road
● Paper towels
● Glass cleaner/all-purpose cleaner
● Roll of small trash bags
● Multi-tool or utility knife
● Twine or paracord
● Duct tape
● Elastics, clips, or hair ties
● Safety pins
● Paperwork and documents
● Spare change
You probably won’t need everything on this list, but when you’re on the road, it’s better to overpack than go without. Arrange everything in a tidy way that is always in the same place so you can reach for what you might need without looking.
2. Stock Up on Healthy Travel Food
Eating healthily is one of the single biggest challenges for truck drivers living on the road, even if you only make local deliveries and go home at night. Eating on the road leads to fast food and to the higher prices of on-demand convenience. You can protect your digestive health, your weight, and your wallet by planning ahead and packing healthy food for the road.
Pack a large bag of prepared wraps or lunchmeat salads. Keep them cool with regular infusions of ice or in a thermo-electric cooler. Pack healthy sandwiches, or even make a cold soup that you can sip happily on the road. However, if you don’t have time to prep, favor the healthier options in the grocery section of some truck stops, or even stop by a grocery store’s pre-made deli section on your way through.
3. Plan Your Trips and Stops Ahead of Time
When’re on an unfamiliar route and you need a personal break or your eyes are starting to droop, you don’t want to be wondering where the next stop might be. That kind of uncertainty can lead to stress and less healthy or satisfying decisions. The best way to make sure that every route you take will be a leisurely roll through planned stops is to plan.
When given a route or before you accept a route, take a look at the stops ahead of you. Look at the mile distances and estimate approximately where you’ll need to be for every stop you make for gas, food, and rest. If you plan by the hour and by the mile, you’re likely to come in close to your predictions, which will reduce your stress levels and make it easier to ensure that your own personal needs are taken care of along the way.
Know where you will refuel, eat, and sleep before you take off.
4. Build a Sleep-Anywhere Kit for Living on the Road
There are two kinds of sleepers among truck drivers, those who can doze off at any given opportunity and those who work hard to get good sleep. If you fall into the second category, don’t let poor sleep impact your quality of life or attention on the road. Instead, help yourself get better sleep with a portable sleep environment kit:
● Eye mask
● Fan or white noise machine
● Favorite pillow
● Weighted blanket
Your sleep environment is how you build the circumstances around your slumber. Some people need complete darkness, complete silence, or a softly whooshing white noise. But here’s the trick: you can condition yourself to fall asleep using certain tricks, then make a portable kit to transport that sleep environment anywhere.
We recommend going to bed wearing earplugs, with a fan, or a specific white noise track playing. You may prefer a specific pillow or a weighted blanket, as well. When you need to get to sleep in the back of the cab or in a trucker motel, take the kit with you and recreate your sleep environment for a deeper, more refreshing night’s sleep every time.
5. Learn Your Favorite Stops for Personal Care
Finally, learn your favorite stops. Truckers always eventually learn the best places to refuel, stock up on healthier foods, and where to take the best showers. Fueling up can earn shower credits and other trucker perks, so you may have a favorite truck stop chain. You will eventually learn the best specific stops that you find the most welcoming and easy to refresh on a long drive.
Once you learn the routes with your favorite stops, you can ask for these routes more often because you will find them easier and more pleasant with good-quality stops along the way.
Becoming a Truck Driver and Living on the Road
If you’ve always wanted a life on the road, now is an important time for all interested drivers to pursue a CDL and try their hand at the big rigs. Our nation is currently experiencing a truck driver shortage, and driver employee packages are getting better every year. Fortunately, getting started with your commercial driver’s license is easy with the Texas trade school, Southern Career Institute. Find out more about SCI’s CDL program and pursue your new career on the open road.
This article was published on: 08/4/22 4:36 PM
* SCI does not guarantee employment or a starting salary upon graduation, completion, or withdrawal from SCI. As an accredited post-secondary institution, SCI has various federal financial assistance programs available for students who qualify and are enrolled in SCI programs. This does not apply to seminar students.