The truck driver lifestyle is entirely unique compared to many other professions, and those who are in the career for the long-haul have some tried and true tips and tricks to make the most out of life on the road. From inconsistent or erratic schedules to frequent visits in unfamiliar towns and cities, and sometimes, the battle against loneliness and isolation, the truck driver lifestyle isn’t for everyone. However, anyone can develop healthy habits for coping on the road and even have quite a bit of fun if you follow this simple truck driver lifestyle guide.
Here at LubeZone Truck Lube Center, we’re a resource for drivers everywhere. That’s why we bring you the very best truck driver articles each month, with tips, tricks, information, and life hacks to make your driving career that much better.
When it comes to scheduling, the truck driver lifestyle is unlike any other job. You won’t be working a 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, stuck behind a desk; that’s for sure. Many know trucking as a life that’s seemingly always on the road, but is that true? How many hours do truckers really work and how often do they get to come home?
Federal regulations state that truckers must have at least 10 off-duty hours prior to every 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour work period, or 8 hours of rest for every 10 hours of driving. This is according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA’s) guidelines on Hours of Service (HoS). However, as many trucking jobs are for long-haul freight, those 8 to 10 hours of rest likely won’t always be in your own bed. They will likely take place at truck stops along your route, or sometimes at motels along the way.
Since in the trucking business time is money, many drivers try to maximize their hours on the road to reach their destinations more quickly. That means they can return home sooner, and ultimately, take more jobs which means more cash. On average, most long-haul commercial truck drivers stay on the road for two or three weeks at a time before returning home. Then, they receive a few days off before hitting the road for the next job.
However, there are companies and situations that lead to more time at home and more regular schedules. Companies that follow union guidelines, for example, tend to have more set schedules that allow for evenings and weekends at home. Similarly, local companies that serve point-to-point (PTP) routes are more likely to have drivers that go home at the end of each shift and return in the morning. Your individual schedule will depend on your industry, company, and location.
There’s no denying it, life on the road can be tough. Many drivers spend the maximum allowable time physically driving to optimize their routes and make it to destinations more quickly. This means that there can be long stretches of the road without face-to-face contact with another human being. Especially for novice drivers, this can be challenging. It’s essential to find ways to cope with these long days and nights away from home that come with the truck driver lifestyle.
Here are X tips to feel less lonely when you’re out on assignment and to make the most of the days you do get to spend back in your own bed.
If you’re a long-haul trucker, it can be greatly beneficial to find some familiar faces when you’re out on the road. This enables you to build relationships with others outside of your hometown, and will even give you something to look forward to. You don’t have to find a new best friend, of course. But, if you know you have a regular long-haul route through certain states or cities, try to visit the same stops when you’re driving.
Stopping at the same location for semi-truck maintenance, the same sleep spots, and the same great restaurants and eateries can bring a sense of stability and balance to what can be an unpredictable schedule. You’ll get to know your service technicians by name, the cashiers at the truck stops, and get to chat with your favorite restaurant server. Having someone who knows your name when you’re on the road can mean a lot.
Most trucking companies give their drivers at least the standard two weeks of PTO every year. Make sure you use it! Whether you take several shorter vacations or one long vacation, having this uninterrupted time with loved ones can make a huge difference. The best part is, you won’t be losing out on any cash since it’s covered by your company.
One of the biggest pitfalls that employees face is the idea that to use their PTO they have to have somewhere to go. While a trip to the beach or the mountains is great, the reality is that as a long-haul trucker you likely see far away places on the regular. Instead, you can use your PTO to stay at home, catch up with friends, see a ball game, or complete a few home improvement projects.
A furry, four-legged companion, that is. Many long-haul truckers find that they are able to bring along their pets when they drive and this is often a great comfort. Everyone knows that a dog is man’s best friend, and having Frido in the passenger seat can put a huge smile on your face. While he might not talk back, he’s there to listen, wag his tail, and give you unconditional love. Always check with your company regarding their pet policy before bringing along your furry buddy and look into things such as interstate health certificates, breed bans, and vaccinations necessary for pets that travel across state lines. Also, be sure to grab your animal companion their fair share of travel gear, such as a good harness, a pet seat belt, toys, food, and more.
Even when you’re on the road for a job, you won’t be driving all the time. Your free time is still your free time and you should make the most of it to help you unwind, relax, and enjoy when you’re on assignment. Being a long-haul trucker is likely to land you in some pretty interesting and beautiful places, with sight-seeing and leisure opportunities that many others may not have.
While you’re on the road, scope out the activities available in each town or city you plan on stopping in. Internet searches will yield you many consumer-reviewed lists and tips, and you can choose between free and paid activities. You’re also likely to find some great tricks and hacks by searching trucking forums and social media groups. There may be an ultra-cool place to park your truck overnight to catch a killer sunrise that isn’t on the main GPS–give it a try and share your experience with others.
One of the greatest things about modern times is that now, we have the ability to connect with countless individuals wherever we may be. This means that even when you’re far away from civilization you can share your journey with those who are interested. Other truckers, family, and friends will enjoy seeing cool photos and reading funny stories about your experience on social media. Reach out to other drivers to compare notes and get advice, and send lots of pics home to your loved ones.
You might not be able to make it to dinner at mom’s house this weekend, or to the bar for a drink with your buddies in person, but you can be there via WiFi. Schedule times to connect with those you care about via video chat, so you can be there even when you’re not. Additionally, there are countless other ways to stay connected via smart phone. Start two-player games of chess or word scrambles over apps, and chat with your loved ones while you play on your breaks. It’s a great way to maintain a bond and a shared interest even when you’re miles away.
We know that sleeping in a truck cabin may not be the most glamorous or the most comfortable. However, there are things that you can do to elevate the experience. Since you’re spending lots of time on the road it makes sense to invest in high-quality gear that will not only last you for quite a while but also improve your experience while driving.
Go for the upgraded bedding , the nice travel pillow, and your favorite toiletries. Making sure you are comfortable and well-rested is essential. Make your truck cabin as much like home as possible, with pictures of loved ones and comfort items.
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