Advice For Staying Happy On The Road.

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Sambo's Comment
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This may not be for everyone, but it helps me, and it might be able to help you.

The road has many ups and downs. You are tired, lonely, miss your spouse and children. The weather isn't cooperating, AC is busted, appointment times are tight, and traffic is driving you crazy. It all feels like you are going to explode at times.

The key to managing all of this is to decompress whenever possible. By this, I mean, learn to relax whenever you have the opportunity. When you have down time, let it be down time and not time thinking about the job.

Being tense all the time, frustrated and angry will actually be counter productive. You tend to do better work when you are relaxed rather than uptight.

Again, when you have time off, learn to forget about the road and your career, and just enjoy the moment surrounding you.

But, what about those long weeks on the road? How to manage that? There are some things you can do to make life easier while out here, and they are quite simple.

Most of it has to do with treating your body right. Treat your body right and it will make life out here so much easier.

By this I mean a few things. Eating right can be difficult out here, but it can be done. Don't fall into the trap that you see a lot of drivers fall into by keeping a bag of chips, and a box of donuts next to your seat at all times, and that 100 ounce mug full of mountain dew all of the time. Too many carbs and too much sugar will cause weight gain and cause you to feel sluggish. Me, personally, I hate fighting sleep while trying to drive. It actually can get me angry because it's one of the worst feelings.

Yes, the sugar and mt dew may give you a pick me up, but when it wears off, it will cause you to be drowsy.

Eating healthy can help by managing weight and reduce the bad stuff going into your body. I like to keep trail mix and apples next to my seat, but don't over indulge. Just enough to keep your hunger at bay. Drink water and natural fruit juices instead of soda. If you want a little flavor, they sell things like water additives, such as Mio, that can help if you want a little flavor, but I wouldn't over use them, as the artificial sweeteners are not really good for you either, but can help when you need a change fro plain water.

Water intake can actually help speed up your metabolism, which can help with weight management, but also helps flush the body of toxins, which can help reduce the feeling of sluggishness. Only down side is that you may have to stop to urinate more often, but, that in itself can get you out of the truck to move around a little and keep the blood flowing.

When you have to stop for rest breaks, avoid truck stops if you can. Try to stop at a rest area. Not only can you get in and out more quickly, but you have less temptation to buy things, including food and sodas.

Coffee is also a good alternative to soda if you need caffeine, and there are many flavored creamers that can make that cup of Joe that much more enjoyable. Myself, I like the large coffe at pilot, with 2 to 3 sweet n low packets and some French vanilla creamer. Makes a good cup of coffee.

Instead of eating at the buffet, but things you can store in your truck. You can buy a thermoelectric cooler and store milk and vegetables, use storage containers to keep dry goods. Peanut butter, tuna, canned chicken breast, granola bars, instant oatmeal, and dry pack stew, spaghetti, chicken Alfredo are things that can be microwaved in the truck stop if you don't have a microwave in the truck. Just go easy on the dry pack foods as they contain a lot of sodium, but they can provide a quick meal that is easy on the budget, when needed.

Try to limit buffet meals and other truck stop foods to no more than twice a week. This will help keep you from over eating and keep you from eating things that are not good for you, and also help to keep your wallet from being drained.

Exercise can be done while on the truck, and it doesn't take much to do. Exercise promotes good blood flow and can help to keep you energized. I keep a workout band in the truck, some people use dumbells, whatever works for you.

Every other day, I'll do about 10 minutes of step exercises using the rear access step on truck, then, I'll do about 4 laps of walking around the truck parking area at a brisk pace. Then I'll come back to the truck and so curls and tricep extensions with my workout band. You can also wrap the band around the back of your seat, or a hand rail on your truck and do ab crunches.

Anything to keep the body moving and to try to ward off stagnation, and help keep your cardio up and your muscles active, will help keep you more alert in the seat of the truck.



Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated

Sambo's Comment
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Aside from proper diet and exercise, limiting stress on the body will help promote a better driving day.

Try to limit the exposure to stresses on the body. One of the things you can do to help is develop thick skin. There are things that will eat at you out here. Learn to not let them bother you. This is not to say that you should develop an apathetic attitude, but rather learn to take things in stride. Do the best that you can, but when problems arise, don't let yourself get bent out of shape by them. Stop and think through the problem, ask for help. At the end of the day, there is no problem that cant be fixed, and there is no load too important that you have to risk safety to do. Slow down and realize that mistakes will happen, it's how we deal with them and how we learn from them that matters.

Traffic got you frazzled? Tired of getting cut off and having to slow down all the time? Yes, it bothers me too, but, a change of perspective can actually make these situations better.

Trucker or 4 wheeler cuts you off, rather than getting upset, realize that by altering your speed and opening the gap is actually a testament to your being a safe and observant driver. This should make you feel some pride because it means you are doing it right. Flying off the handle on the cb isn't going to help anything but make the other driver mad too, and getting upset over it will increase stress on your body and mind. We just have to realize that creating an argument will not solve the problem, so why even start one. Just drive your truck safely and take pride that you are doing it better than the other guy. You can use this in many other situations as well.

There are some things worth getting upset at, and there are some that are not. Learn to weed out the emotional response to the things that are not worth it will help keep stress from building up.

Make sure to get enough sleep. Obviously, this is the biggest one for being alert and awake behind the wheel. Try to get enough sleep each night/day. Lack of sleep will cause you to be drowsy, and a continual lack of sleep can lead to a sleep deficit which can be hard to catch up on. When you do sleep, try to make the environment as comfortable as possible. Use AC and heater to keep the cab at optimal temperatures, and fans if necessary. I know some companies limit idle time but if you are not sleeping properly, this can be dangerous. This is why I think companies who do not provide apu units should not have restrictions on idle time. If you are not comfortable when sleeping, this means you are not getting quality sleep, and this can have dire consequences.

Also, best sleep is done in pitch black environment. Your sub conscious can pick up on light in the area and cause a reduction in the quality of sleep. As drivers, we sleep during all hours. This means trying to block out as much light as you can. Cab curtains, bunk curtains, maybe even a sleep mask for light blockage. Also, put your cell phone and other electronic devices in a place where if it lights up on it's own, you won't be able to see it.

Lastly, silence is golden. During the day, if you are the type that likes to listen to hard driving rock music, this can actually be a stress increase. Also, listening to political talk radio can increase stress. Loud music can cause you to have to focus harder on the road.

Sometimes, turning the radio off for awhile can help you relax and decompress. Myself, I like to turn to a classical station or ambient station if you have satellite radio. Calming music can help relieve stress and put you in a relaxed state and make your drive more enjoyable. Also, you can use audio books with a positive message. Just be cautious as some people tend to become too relaxed when listening to classical music and can become sleepy.

Basically, it's about finding balance. Treat your body well, eat right, exercise and limit stresses on your body, and it will lead to a happier and healthier drive. smile.gif


Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Barry L.'s Comment
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Sambo, thanks for all of these tips. Very useful info!

Paul F. 's Comment
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Thank you. all very good advice. My preference for mellow music is Pink Floyd. I also have an album of Led Zeppelin music performed by the London Philharmonic orchestra. I love it. I keep nuts and fruit in the truck. My fruit of choice are apples, clementines (easy to peel while driving), and bananas. I do drink a ton of soda though and I love coffee but try not to drink it as it drastically increases my pee stops.

I intend to get a freezer and cook at home, and eat a lot of home cooked meals reheated in the microwave. I'll make a ton of rice, some stir fry, some stew, some eggplant parm, and portion them in ziploc bags, and I'll have a home cooked meal in minutes. I'll also have a number of hard boiled eggs. They're a good snack and egg salad can be made easily.

I have a culinary education and have been in food service for 35+ years so bulk cooking is easy for me. It will also be much less expensive.

Susan D. 's Comment
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Paul, I bulk purchase, then split up my meats, fish, and veggies for single serving sizes in ziploc freezer bags. I've got a dometic portable freezer in my truck, so I cook all my dinners from scratch. Sometimes I'll mix a couple mini meatloaves and freeze those, cooking them later in my aroma cooker on crock pot setting. I'm not a huge fan of microwaving.

I keep a huge variety of pantry staples also.

I haven't done much in the way of breakfast though.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Xnihilo's Comment
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Paul, I bulk purchase, then split up my meats, fish, and veggies for single serving sizes in ziploc freezer bags. I've got a dometic portable freezer in my truck, so I cook all my dinners from scratch. Sometimes I'll mix a couple mini meatloaves and freeze those, cooking them later in my aroma cooker on crock pot setting. I'm not a huge fan of microwaving.

I keep a huge variety of pantry staples also.

I haven't done much in the way of breakfast though.

May I train with you someday? 😁


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Jeremy's Comment
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A federal fishing license good for all states should be available for truckers i dont know about anyone else but its my ultimate zen moments in my life

Michael C.'s Comment
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When I was I was a OTR driver I stayed out 4 weeks and was home 4 days. For the first 7 months I enjoyed it. But after that my mood started changing. It wasn't boredom or the long hours that got to me. It was the loneliness. Not spendind time with with family and friends. Missing out on things because you are on the road for weeks or months at a time. The depression kicked in and really got to me. But I will say this to anyone looking to get into OTR trucking just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it wouldn't work for you. No matter what finish that first year. I did 17 months. That OTR experience will help you land a decent paying local driving job.


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.

Slim's Comment
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Really loved this post. Some good advice on staying in shape both physically and mentally. I think having some good reading material on hand would be a welcome distraction while you were on your 10 hour break from trucking.

Moe's Comment
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This is all great advice and now that I have my CDL , i need to take my health and wellbeing ALOT more seriously. I need to lose about 80 more pounds personally and quit smoking. The little things add up. I can weight like nothing in a short period of time eating trucker stop food.

I personally like to homecan meat and put that up for leaner times. Already have an instant pot and microwave.

Excercise is my bane.

I like video gaming to relieve stress so might bring my switch with me for the dow time.


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.
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