How to Thrive in the Trucker Lifestyle
The life of a truck driver is not for everyone. Not only do you have to deal with the constant stress of driving on a big rig, but you also have to navigate all kinds of weather, traffic jams, and other obstacles. Being a truck driver requires a unique set of skills, including a willingness to spend long hours alone on the road, the ability to stay alert and focused for extended periods of time, and strong problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Life on the road differs greatly from your at-home routine, and adjusting to the trucker lifestyle can be challenging for drivers both new and experienced. If you're not careful, it can be easy to lose track of what's important for your career success and your job satisfaction.
The trucker lifestyle can be challenging, but with the right mindset and strategies, you can thrive in this profession.
Planning and organization are essential for taking on the challenges of a trucking job. Trucking can often be unpredictable. Create a schedule outlining the must-do’s for the job as well as your personal needs. Keep track of your schedule, deliveries, and expenses. This will help you stay on top of your workload and avoid unnecessary stress. Check along your route as well to select stops for bathroom breaks, rest, showers, food, and sleep. Not only will this save you from spending drive time searching for a stop, but you can also check out the stops online to ensure they have everything you need. Visiting the same stops will also give you a better sense of comfort and stability with your route itinerary. In addition, track the weather before you head out. It is important to pack the right supplies for various weather conditions such as snow or rain and factor any weather delays into your plan.
Proper planning will give you a chance to optimize your time on the road and outside of driving hours. Experiment with routines for your laundry, dining, showers, exercise, and sleep to see what works best for you. If you plan right, you can even factor in time to explore the areas you travel through. One perk of the trucking lifestyle is getting to see new places, from cities, to beaches, to national parks. Take advantage of any free time you can fit in to get the most out of the areas along your route and form amazing travel memories.
Driving long hours solo can certainly be lonely. A large part of succeeding on the road comes from staying connected with friends and family that aren’t there with you. It's important to remember that staying connected with others can help you maintain your mental health and emotional well-being. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family, no matter where you are. Your phone allows you to text, call, and email friends and family at any time so you can always keep each other updated. Plus, you can schedule a virtual hangout by video calling on your smartphone or laptop. Video calls present a really interactive opportunity to chat, play games, or eat together. Remember to take a bit of home with you as well, especially for long-haul trips! Try packing your favorite home-cooked meal.
Take Care of Your Vehicle
Proper preventative maintenance will keep your truck out of the shop when you are on a route. Check your truck before every trip and look for any signs of wear or damage. This includes checking your tires, brakes, lights, and fluids. If you know your truck has some upcoming maintenance, try to schedule it before a route or even schedule it as part of the trip. Even with proper preventative maintenance, unexpected complications can always pop up with such a heavy-duty piece of equipment. That is why it is important you get to know the specific vehicle you are working with! Familiarize yourself with the dash, owner’s manual, and the feel of operation. You’ll want to be able to spot any issues immediately so you can handle them as fast as possible.
Find a Mentor and Network
Mentors are an incredibly helpful part of the trucking lifestyle. A mentor can offer guidance, support, and advice based on their own experiences and expertise. You can find a mentor at your company, through your driving school, trucker forums, or even professionally-run mentorship programs. When looking for a mentor, it's important to find someone who has the experience, knowledge, and skills you're looking to develop. It's also essential to establish a good working relationship and communicate clearly about your goals, expectations, and concerns to get the most out of the mentorship.
As we talked about above, visiting the same pre-planned stops can add a bit of stability and comfort on a long route. These stops can also introduce you to new friends in the industry. Get to know maintenance workers, fellow truckers, and even locals along your usual routes. Social media is another great way to connect with other truckers. Social media is a perfect resource for industry news, sharing experiences, professional advice, and even job opportunities. You can stay up-to-date on what friends in the industry are doing, post your own updates, and exchange messages to easily keep your relationships strong. JobsInTrucks has several social media accounts with a diverse trucker community for you to take advantage of including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Contacts are an invaluable resource; they can act as sources of advice, help in an emergency, or even act as referrals for future jobs. As the years go by, you will start to see a vast network of friends and fellow professionals that you can count on!
Stay Positive and Tackle Stress
The trucking lifestyle is not always easy, but maintaining a positive attitude can help you overcome obstacles and thrive. Focus on the good aspects of your job, such as the freedom of the open road, strong pay, like minded coworkers, and the satisfaction of delivering goods safely and efficiently. Why did you start a trucking career? Chances are, you are a strong, hard-working individual that always rises to a challenge.
Even with years of experience and thorough planning, stressful situations are going to happen. That’s part of the job, and it is important to accept that! You are human, and it is normal to react to a challenge with anxiety, stress, or even frustration. If you find yourself stressed, try some positive stress management tactics. Take a break where you can walk, exercise, read,or listen to music. Deep breathing, stretching, and meditation are extremely peaceful and proven techniques for lowering your heart rate or stress response. Your friends, family, or fellow truckers are there to be a listening ear and give you advice on tackling your stress. Always come back to your positive attitude! Though you might be stressed in the moment, remind yourself of all the positive aspects of your job.
Despite these challenges, many people find the trucking lifestyle to be rewarding and fulfilling. By following these tips and staying committed to your success, you can thrive in the trucker lifestyle and enjoy a lifelong career on the road.