A trucker’s life is never easy: you’re on the road, you work long hours, and you have to be prepared for whatever is thrown your way.
These challenges escalate when you have to travel across the country. It’s more difficult to find what you need at an unfamiliar gas station along the way than it is to shop at your neighborhood grocery store.
Before hitting the open road, skim this checklist to make sure you didn’t miss anything. It’s better to be prepared than to wish you had something in an emergency.
Packing for a long haul is a lot like packing for a camping trip. You want to make sure you have the appropriate clothing for where you’re going. Be ready for unexpected changes in weather and temperature by packing the following:
- Several pairs of socks and underwear (include heavier socks and underwear for cold weather)
- Sturdy T-shirts and sweatshirts with no offensive logos
- Several pairs of quality blue jeans or work pants
- Bras (if you need them)
- A good belt (or suspenders)
- Sturdy work boots as well as comfy driving shoes
- Weather-proof coat
- Knit hat and weather gloves (not the same as work gloves)
If you’re going to be on the road for days at a time, you’ll likely want to shower and refresh yourself whenever you get the chance. Unfortunately, not all rest stops are well-equipped with personal hygiene supplies, so take these with you:
- Shower shoes (flip flops will work, too)
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo, conditioner, and soap
- Razors, trimmers, shaving gel or cream, aftershave
- Lotion and sunscreen
- Travel mirror
- Comb or brush
- Tweezers, nail clippers, and small scissors
- Baby wipes, tissues, and toilet paper
- Feminine hygiene products (if you need them)
- Mesh laundry bag and laundry detergent
- Hand sanitizer
- Safety pins
Keep in mind that liquid items travel lighter than most solid items. If needed, place anything that could spill or leak into Ziploc bags and plastic bags to avoid potential messes. Smaller travel size versions of many of these items are available in most stores.
While you could sleep in a hotel every night, some nights you may find yourself sleeping in your truck simply out of necessity.
Take the following essentials to sleep comfortably:
- A good pillow (consider purchasing extra pillows for your seat and neck as well)
- Sleeping bag (extreme cold sleeping bags-mummy bags-are best)
- Sheets and blankets
- A reliable alarm clock
- Additional Essentials
Once you have your bedding, hygiene, and clothing ready, you’ve got the basics covered. However, no experienced truck driver would leave on a long road trip without the following equipment:
- Polarized sunglasses or prescription sunglasses
- Trucker hats
- Work gloves
- Hands-free phone system and chargers
- Map (phone GPS will fail in areas without coverage)
- Calculator, pens, rulers, whiteout, and notebooks
- CDL (never leave without it!)
- A copy of your vehicles registration, inspection, and insurance
- Driver’s daily log book
- Additional documents as needed (SSN, birth certificate, med cards, passports)
- Pocket knife or Swiss army knife
- Roadside emergency kit (spare tires, jacks, tire irons, wrenches, tire gauge, etc.)
- Snow chains (for winter)
- Flashlight (with extra batteries)
- Porta Potti (if needed)
- Electronic entertainment (music players, laptops, portable DVD players, etc.)
- Portable vacuum
- Wallet with debit and credit cards, checks, and cash -you never know which ones you’ll need
- Any medication that you may need as well as first aid supplies
- Spare door and ignition keys
Think You’re Ready to Go?
If you’re packed with all your necessary gear, you still have a few more preparatory steps before you’re ready to pull out.
- Adjust your seat. All controls should be within easy reach, and keep your head positioned against the headrest in case of an accident. Make yourself as comfortable as possible without sacrificing your driving capabilities. Don’t forget your seat belt!
- Map your stops. Knowing where you’re going is half the battle. Plan appropriate stops and alternate routes in case of heavy traffic or accidents. Note any problem areas such as bridges or tunnels where your vehicle might have a problem.
- Check brakes, tire pressure, and fluids. Your truck should be in top shape before you leave. Ensure your load is evenly distributed. This ensures the safety of your cargo as well as your truck.
- Check the weather. Adapt your driving to weather conditions such as rain, mud, ice or snow. You may have to reduce your speed and leave your stops earlier to make up for lost time.
Check, Check, and Recheck
Hopefully this list will help you prepare for the long road ahead. Before leaving, double-check your list to make sure you didn’t forget anything. If you need additional advice, ask your partner (if you have one) or other more experienced truck drivers for pointers.
Remember to be safe and pull over if you’re tired. Happy driving!