Must-Haves for Truckers on the Road
When you put your rig on the road, there’s no telling how long you’ll be gone – a few days, a few weeks, or sometimes even a month at a time depending on the job. The life of a trucker has always meant extended time away from friends and family, and this year with the Coronavirus pandemic has been no exception as truckers from all over the country have stepped up to keep the medical, food, and paper supply chains moving.
Regardless of how long you’re going to be on the job, you have to be prepared with everything you’ll need to take care of yourself and your vehicle on the road. But what exactly should that entail? Some of these may be no-brainers, but there may also be some surprises or things you notoriously forget before you leave.
1. Duty/Off-Duty Clothes
Truckers may not have to adhere to a uniform requirement, you still have to look professional on the job while also being comfortable in what you’re wearing. To achieve this, it’s a good idea to pack:
- Button-up/polo shirts
- Jogging pants
Off-duty clothes should also be comfortable, breathable, nonrestrictive, and seasonally appropriate to where you’ll be traveling. Other clothing items to consider are:
- Shoes. Most drivers know what shoes they like to drive in. But don’t forget the jogging shoes, shower shoes, and sneakers/general off-duty shoes too to make sure your feet stay protected and comfortable.
- Jacket. Even when you don’t think you’ll get cold or be in a state that experiences winter, an unexpected change in altitude can also quickly change your comfort level.
2. Personal Hygiene Items
We’re not just talking about throwing a beard trimmer and a toothbrush in your cup holder before you take off. To make sure your health and hygiene stay top notch, you may want to think about putting together:
- An overnight kit with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, deodorant, and body spray or the cologne of your choice.
- A grooming kit with combs, brushes, the beard trimmer we mentioned before, nail clippers, and whatever else you need to look and feel your best.
- A shower kit, because let’s be honest, even though the life of a trucker is exciting, you also never know where you’ll end up bathing. Stock up on body wash or bar soap, shampoo, and whatever else you need to wash off the stink of being on the road all day.
3. Safety Gear
One fact about trucking is that unexpected things can happen, and part of taking care of yourself on the road means making sure you’re safe and visible to others. Some items that you may wish you had packed in hindsight are:
- Heavy-duty work gloves
- A reflective safety vest
- Earplugs (a snoring co-driver is a matter of personal safety, right?)
- Headband lamp for outside visibility
4. An Emergency Kit
Most trucking companies require some type of emergency supplies in the truck but being thorough in stocking your emergency kit is never a bad idea. Be prepared for any emergency situation with:
- An emergency triangle kit
- Road flares or cones
- Tire chains for unexpected snow/ice
- A light rain jacket, thermal underwear, and other gear to keep you protected in all weather conditions
5. Cleaning Supplies
We’ve all seen pictures of chaotic, cluttered cabs, but your truck is your workspace and at times also your home, so keeping it clean and organized can only help you stay focused while you’re on the road. Wiping and disinfecting your high-touch points in the cab can also help you stay healthy while this pandemic is still going on so don’t forget the:
- Disposable gloves
- Disinfecting wipes
- Hand sanitizer
6. Electronics for Work and Play
When you’re on the road, your CB radio and smartphone become your lifelines to your loved ones and to the rest of the world. But that doesn’t also mean you can’t enjoy yourself during the trip.
- Communications. In addition to your trusty atlas, maps, and GPS device, it’s never too early to upgrade your CB radio to handle your communication needs with your company and the rest of the trucking community.
- Music. If you’re only listening to what’s on the radio, you’re missing out on fully enjoying your drive. Invest in a system with a CD/MP3 player, a remote control, and the volume controls you need to crank and sing REO Speedwagon as loud as you please.
7. Food, Snacks, and Drinks
With truck stop and restaurant closures and restrictions, depending on your own supply of food, snacks, and drinks can help you minimize stops and eat better during the trip.
- Non-refrigeration snacks. Your truck fridge can only hold so much but apples, bananas, beef jerky, trail mix, bread, peanut butter, and other protein-packed snacks can fill you up without compromising space.
- Make-ahead meals. Bring a little taste of home with you with sandwiches and soups from home, or take it to the next level with take-and-make options if you have a slow cooker on board.
- Water. Waking up and staying alert with coffee and energy drinks is a common habit for many truckers, but don’t forget that you actually need water too!
8. A Superior Quality Fridge
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about your truck fridge. Is it always breaking or just not big enough? Rather than spending less upfront for the same brand of cheap fridge, get one from a dependable brand with adequate storage capacity.
9. Comfort is Key
Truckers sacrifice a lot for their jobs, but it’s possible to still be comfortable with the use of:
- An indoor sleeping bag
- Pillows and a blanket that are customized to your personal sleeping requirements
- A portable toilet because sometimes you never know when the next rest stop is coming up.
If something’s going on with your truck and you’re a good distance away from the nearest service center or technician, truckers have to do what they can to keep their vehicles up. A stocked toolbox may include:
- Zip ties
- Brake cleaner
- Pocket knife
- Flashlight and batteries
- Tire pressure gauge
- Wrench set
That all being said, now do you need a bigger truck?