Enjoying Yourself As An Over The Road Driver

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Old School's Comment
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Recently someone in our forum answered the question of why they decided to quit driving Over The Road with this simple, but telling response...

I decided to get a life.

I thought about writing an article on this subject, and I may still, but I'm tired tonight so I'll try to keep this brief.

One of the keys to success out here is to be able to enjoy your new lifestyle. If you spend each night in a truck stop, eat the same truck stop meals which all begin to taste the same, and suffer through the same TV reruns in the driver's lounge each night, you will suffer burn out.

I think new drivers have the biggest struggle with this. Their inexperience leads them to always depend on truck stops for parking, and their inadequate skills at backing just make those unfruitful late night hunting trips for an easy parking spot add a whole new dimension of stress into their newly chosen lifestyle. If you are constantly bombarded with stress and frustration, you will burn out quickly.

I do a lot of creative parking - much of it on my customer's properties. This frees me up to explore a new area almost on a daily basis. I always like to spend some time walking each day. The fresh air does me good. Just getting out of the truck rejuvenates me, and I oftentimes discover something fun or interesting in whichever town I happen to be in.

Earlier this week I was headed for Pensacola, Florida. I'd been to this customer before and remembered they had an empty lot for staging trucks. I made that empty lot my parking area for the night. I got there early enough to do some exploring around on foot and came upon this interesting little restaurant.

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I noticed they had some outdoor seating and an open patio area in the back of the building. Some fresh air and a nice meal al fresco was just the ticket!

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Once I got inside and situated where I wanted to be, it became obvious that this was open mic night out on the patio, and the folks who were showing their talents were very good! I thoroughly enjoyed my evening there.

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One of my daughter's has an app on her phone to track me with, and she told my wife, "Uhm, Mom - it looks like Daddy is at a bar tonight!"

If you can learn to mange your new lifestyle out here in a way that is both productive and rewarding you won't be looking to greener pastures so you can "have a life." Personally, I enjoy every minute of this grand adventure, and I hope each of you can find that balance that makes this career so rewarding to me.

Over The Road:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

I also tend to park at customer locations, or at terminals, where there's plenty of guaranteed parking, and I even know a few mom n pop restaurants that welcome trucks. If I've parked somewhere that a shower isn't available, I'll generally shower on my 30 minute break at a truck stop where I have shower credits.

I love being out on the road. Right now though I had to come home for a family emergency and hopefully will be back out there soon.

Terminal:

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.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Very nice OS. I too park at customers whenever possible. It is so much nicer and low stress. My customers usually are very peaceful. I do follow one major rule though... If I can’t get there before dark I don’t go in unless its a location I am familiar with. Last night I ate at a small family run thai restrauant across the street. I actually set my drops up with customer parking in mind. Like Susan I manage my time to grab a shower when I get fuel and/or 30 minute breaks.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

That comment was aimed specifically at my local tanker job not OTR. While I had no life during both jobs, at least when I was OTR I had fun, got to see the country and meet a ton of awesome people. Lots of adventures were had with that BMX bike I strapped to the back of my truck and training students.

Daniel B.'s Bike Rides

OTR:

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
That comment was aimed specifically at my local tanker job not OTR

I stand corrected. I apologize.

The point is still valid though. You also made this comment in another thread to a person who was speaking about how much they enjoyed being out on the road as an OTR driver.

I think that's how most people feel in the beginning. Everything is still new, fresh, and exciting. But after a few years it can become a grind. I personally prefer local.

My point is that you can work at making this enjoyable.

There was no intention here to focus on you Daniel. Your comments just made me think that some of the newbies in here now days don't always have the perspective of the many enjoyable features this career can offer. I was just using the comment as a spring board into a conversation on the rewarding aspects of the career. It really is something I continue to benefit from, both financially and otherwise.

I don't think anyone should pursue this just for the money. There are too many other benefits to this that are even more rewarding than the fiduciary ones.

OTR:

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.

TruckerSpeir's Comment
member avatar

This is great, OS! As I’m on a trainer’s truck all I can do in regards to parking is plan for my future solo career, and I have put a lot of thought into how I’m not looking forward to truck stops every night. This gives a great alternative, so I appreciate it. I do enjoy my time out here and take walks as often as possible. We had five hours the other day in a suburb of LA so I took off walking and thoroughly enjoyed myself. My trainer, a 38 year burned out vet, couldn’t for the life of him figure out why I’d do such a thing! 😁 I also love pulling over from time to time and capturing the scenery. Even the most “boring” of places has beauty in it if you look at it the right way.

I am new of course but see no trouble enjoying life out here.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Old School, I was the same way. I took advantage of every opportunity I had to find some interesting local culture and go have some fun. I'm a huge scenery buff and I used to do a lot of jogging so that was one way of going out to explore the scenery. But when it was time to have some fun I always looked for small family restaurants or flea markets or beaches or anything interesting I could find. I found myself in countless situations over the years where I was like, "Man, this is the coolest place! What a lucky break!"

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I think that's how most people feel in the beginning. Everything is still new, fresh, and exciting. But after a few years it can become a grind. I personally prefer local.

In fact I felt the exact opposite. The only time I felt that I had a life was when I was OTR. I could attend sporting events, concerts, and festivals all over the country. I could run around Vegas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, or any other city where I had some time to spare and enjoy the local culture and meet some fun people. Every day I had different adventures in different places with new scenery. You never knew what each day would bring.

Driving local was a grind for me. I thought it was awful. It made trucking go from an exciting adventure to a tedious grind where every day was the same places, the same freight, the same monotony and all I could think about was getting finished with the day and getting out of that truck. Of course I don't know what good that did anyhow. Most local jobs take up 12 - 15 hours of your day so all you do is go home, eat, shower, and go to bed. That's no kind of life at all.

For new drivers, it really is important to get out of that truck and go have some fun. It doesn't have to be epic by any means. Just go find a little family diner or local shopping mall. Go see a movie or hunt down a flea market on the weekends. Go see a high school football game. Just get out there and meet some locals, see some of the sites, and explore the area. You'll feel so much better when you get back in the truck, refreshed and ready to go with some cool memories of the area.

OTR:

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.

Garth M.'s Comment
member avatar

Into my seventh month I’m finally getting used to the daily grind and not as exhausted from concentrating on the driving, not getting lost or injured etc. It seemed that this life style was not compatible with good health and trying to cram all my living into the short weekends, I was getting frustrated to say the least. Now its getting easier and repeat customers more plentiful I can find the time to enjoy the drives and explore the stops, my diet is improving lol and I find myself making a lists of the possibilities when I get my trip info. Parking, truck access and how far I can comfortably walk figure in to enjoying the weekdays. With the coming spring I’m planning how I can secure my bicycle to the truck. Having an understanding girlfriend helps and since absence makes the heart grow fonder my weekends are short but intense which Is a good thing. I wouldn’t want to give that up by quitting now lol.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

Garth, Daniel B. Has a post on here somewhere showing how he secured his bike.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Chad B.'s Comment
member avatar

I’ve been driving for 2 1/2 years now. I thoroughly enjoy listening to podcasts. I feel like I’m getting a college education and getting paid for it. I try to listen to things outside of my comfort zone as well as things that resonate and i agree with. It’s been an enlightening time. I hope for many more years of this and I’m making more money than i planned on and expected. That’s allowed me to not have the stress of bills which i had when i started.

I’ve also been listening to a verse by verse lecture series on the Bible which has been fascinating. It’s very in depth and just the book of Genesis had over 40 hour long lectures to it.

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