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FAQ: The Truck Driver's Lifestyle

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2016

The Truck Driving Lifestyle - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is truck driving called a "lifestyle", not just a "job"?

Because for most new drivers going over-the-road, doing the job safely and effectively is going to take up most of their time. It's not a job where you work 8 or 9 hours and then forget about it. You are always involved in it.

Will I have to be away from my family for very long during school and on the road?

It depends on the job that you eventually get, but most new OTR drivers should expect to be away from home for 8-10 weeks with little home time, at least for CDL school and company training. Over-the-road drivers will typically stay out 4-6 weeks at a time, with regional or local jobs getting home weekly or nightly.

Is being a truck driver hard on a marriage?

It can be, due to the potentially long stretches away from home. Many couples team drive, or at least have the spouse ride along as much as possible. Technology also makes it easier to stay in constant contact. Many drivers will look for a more localized job as soon as possible, to be home more.

Can I bring my family on the road with me?

Many companies have rider policies that allow for one rider. Most will allow only one rider at any time, and many have age or time frame restrictions, which vary by company.

Is it hard spending so much time alone as a solo truck driver?

It can be, for many people. The solitude of life on the road is one of the hardest parts of the lifestyle for many people to adjust to, and many can't. You could go long stretches of time without having any meaningful interaction with other humans.

Is it hard for a truck driver to balance work and family life?

Again, it depends on the driver. OTR drivers should expect to only get home very 4-6 weeks. All relationships are different, but long-haul drivers may especially struggle if they have a young family.

Will I enjoy being on the road?

Every individual handles it differently. As much as we try to prepare drivers for the actualities of being a truck driver, many people get out there only to realize that it is just not the lifestyle that they want to lead. Your best bet is to do a ton of research and ask a million questions to try to figure out if it is really for you.

Can I take my pets on the road with me?

In many cases, yes. Many companies allow pets on in the truck and on the road, mostly dogs and cats, and you will find that many have certain size, weight, breed, and number restrictions.

What should I bring on the road as a truck driver?

Generally, if you are an OTR driver, you'll have your truck set up as a little version of your house. Clothes and personal items are a given, while most drivers will have some kind of refrigeration or cooler, microwave ovens, coffee makers, etc.

What kinds of things should I NOT bring on the road?

Drugs, alcohol, and most weapons, especially firearms, are the main things that you should absolutely avoid having in your truck. Almost all companies and most customers will have a "No firearms" policy,and getting caught will be a major roadblock to getting another driving job. Also avoid taking unauthorized pets or riders.

What kinds of expenses do truck drivers have?

Besides any bills that you have at home, the biggest expense for drivers on the road will be food. Most everything else, like tolls, scale tickets, and repairs, will be paid for or reimbursed by the company.

Where do truck drivers shower?

Most of the time, the truck stops will have shower facilities. Many even offer free shower tickets when you fuel up. Many drivers will use their 30-minute break to clean up, or even rent a hotel room for the night if they know they have the time.

How often will I be able to shower while I'm on the road?

After you've gained some experience, and get better at time management, it's entirely possible that you will be able to shower as often as you'd like. Until then, your bathing schedule may be a little more haphazard.

What if I have to use the restroom while I'm driving?

In most cases, you will come across a truck stop or rest area before the need gets too dire, if you've planned ahead a bit. Obviously, keep your liquid intake to reasonable levels before and while you're driving. If you are stopped in your truck, without any nearby facilities, many drivers will keep an empty Gatorade bottle or something similar in the truck, just for emergencies.

Where will I park the truck to sleep?

If you are not taking the truck all the way home with you, you will usually park it at a company terminal or drop yard, or at a truck stop in the vicinity. Trucking companies and truck stops will all have different policies on what is allowed or not allowed.

What if I can't find a place to park before I run out of hours?

Unfortunately, you would have to pull off to the side of the highway, or continue to travel on in violation of hours-of-service regulations. It's up to the driver to NOT let that happen. When in doubt, you should stop early, before running out of hours.

Is it hard to sleep in the truck?

You'll get used to it. Most times you'll be so tired when it's time to sleep that it won't be an issue. Many drivers use the same methods they would use at home, such as white noise machines and darkening shades/masks, to help them fall asleep.

Will I be bothered at truck stops while I'm trying to sleep?

Generally, no, not unless you're waiting at a customer or you're parked in somebody else's way. Or someone crashes into you.

Can I take my computer or gaming system on the road with me?

Many drivers do, and it will depend on what your company allows you to have in terms of a power inverter. A lot of drivers take at least their laptop computer with them.

What is the best cell phone service for truck drivers?

Different cell phone companies will obviously have different plans, but in terms of service area coverage, Verizon is generally known to offer the widest coverage.

Do all truck stops offer WiFi?

These days, most of the larger truck stops will offer WiFi, but there is still much debate on quality and reliability. It's generally accepted that you will be better off finding your own Internet access plan or using your cell phone.

What do truck drivers do for entertainment?

In the beginning, most new drivers won't have much more time to do anything but work, eat, and sleep. Most drivers will have some sort of computer or smart-phone with them, to watch videos, surf the Internet, etc. There's always satellite radio or audio books, or good ol' fashioned paper books. Or the CB, or just sit and think.

Do truck drivers deal with a lot of stress on the road?

Quite a bit, yes. Aside from the stress of keeping appointments, managing hours, and generally not hitting anything, added are things out of a drivers control like weather or traffic delays, and the other drivers around you.

Are there any health problems related to trucking?

The nature of the job requires long periods of sitting, which can lead to all sorts of health issues like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Proper nutrition and exercise are key to being a healthy and successful truck driver.

Will I be able to do any sight-seeing as a truck driver?

Absolutely. Once you have some experience, know how to handle your hours-of-service, and develop a good relationship with your dispatcher , you'll have some occasional free time to do what you want. Many drivers will park at the truck stop and call Uber or Lyft or a taxi to take them wherever they want to go.

Can I take my truck home with me?

It depends on your company, local laws and ordinances, and whether or not you are under a load. Many companies will let you bobtail home if you are not under a load, or have a secure place to drop your trailer. Others will not allow it, and require you to leave the truck at a terminal or drop yard.

Where do I park the truck when I have home time?

If you are not taking the truck all the way home with you, many times you will be required to park it at a company terminal or drop yard, or at a truck stop in the vicinity. Trucking companies and truck stops will all have different policies on what is allowed or not allowed.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.


A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.


Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.


Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

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