First Solo Trip

Topic 33972 | Page 1

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Michael S.'s Comment
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So this week I will be taking my first solo trip. Anxiety and nerves have been getting to me a bit I would appreciate all the tips and advice you all have. Thank you!

FR8 M4N's Comment
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Take it slowly. There will be so much information to take in going solo. Depending on what your training has been up to this point, may help you some what; but there will still be a lot to learn moving forward. So take your time. Things will likely be pretty hard in the first several months, but it does get easier with time and practice.

There's a ton one can say to you at this point. There are a lot of facets to this job; safety, responsibilities, ethics, health matters, laws, determination... You'll learn the most now that you're going solo. It will be frustrating and at times you'll want to just give up on it, but stick with it; things will get better with experience.

Good luck! It's an adventure/life style like no other.

BK's Comment
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Hi Michael,

Do you know yet what the assignment is? As soon as you know where you will pick up and where you will deliver, start your preparation. Get on Google maps satellite view and get familiar with your route. If you have your company provided route, start studying it. With the satellite view feature, you can actually test drive your route. Are you able to do that? If not, find out how and make sure you have a device to do that with.

Get out your trucker’s road atlas and study your route. Get a number of weather forecasts to know what to expect along the way. Check the bridge laws for the states you will be driving in. That info is in the atlas, so learn how to interpret it.

Many other things could be said that would help you, but I believe good navigation skills are essential for success and will save you from many unpleasant situations.

Hobo's Comment
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So this week I will be taking my first solo trip. Anxiety and nerves have been getting to me a bit I would appreciate all the tips and advice you all have. Thank you!

Number 1 is get out and look.

2 is send your paperwork to the company immediately, don't save it up and wait till the end of the week. I did that my first week solo, it didn't work out well.

3 is trip plan. Know what your destination looks like and how you enter and exit before you begin your trip.

4 is call your Trainer if you need advice.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I always remind everyone that there is only one golden rule - don't hit anything. That's it.

Take your time out there. We all tend to rush when we get nervous, and that leads to mistakes.

Most rookie mistakes happen in or around parking lots. That's when things get tight, and drivers get nervous. You don't want to hold someone up or look like you don't know what you're doing, so you either forget to watch certain areas of your truck or you assume you're in the clear instead of getting out to look.

Move at a crawl when you are in tight places, and take all the time necessary to avoid scratching anything.

For finding customers, triple-check the directions. Verify that the directions your company gives you make sense on a map. Call the customer to get directions to make sure they're correct. Examine the location on Google Maps to learn all you can about where the entrance may be, where the docks are, and where you will have room to maneuver.

Getting lost or making a wrong turn can be extremely stressful and often leads to mistakes, so take extra time to ensure your directions are correct and you know the game plan before you head in.

Finally, appreciate the opportunity you have! Yeah, we're all nervous in the beginning - very nervous! But what a blessing and an amazing opportunity it is to drive a big rig! Now you're ready to do it for real, and that's something special. Many of us grew up dreaming of driving trucks, so hopefully you're excited about the opportunity as well and you can enjoy it along the way.

Keep us updated! Let us know how it goes and throw us any questions you may have.

Best of luck out there!

NaeNaeInNC's Comment
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Ditto what every other post has said.

I would also add, use Dry erase markers on your windshield so you have critical information, and your "last mile" turn by turn info. GPS has a nasty habit of going down when you need it the most. (I shape my route on GPS, and it freaks out at 4 major cities every time)

Example in photo. It's there if you need it, but easily looked beyond


Davy A.'s Comment
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Great advice so far. For me, having a plan and repeating the steps in the plan no matter what gave me structure and that structure eliminates the rush, as was said, the rush is what gets most people into trouble.

This is the process I use. I still use it today when im unfamiliar with the customer or its a new customer:

1. Check load assignment for p/u, delivery times, weight and make sure I have available hours to get all done.

2. Check weather vs weight along the route. Check route in atlas vs gps. (IE light weight, high winds? Snow ice, etc?). Establish back up route.

3. Plan miles to drive each day, select 3 to 4 suitable shut down spots for each day. Select shutdown spot for reciever, before delivery or after, back up spots too.

4. Final mile into and out of shipper , then repeat for reciever. Find satellite images of docks, drop yards for both, find easiest, safest path, place to park while getting checked in and how to exit. Check Google reviews, check to see if remote drop yard and verify directions from dispatch. Check both satellite view and street view, check in truckerpath and atlas, make sure it's truck friendly.

5. If parking and docking solution can't be found, call dispatch and ask, call shippers and recievers and ask. If you have a social media group of drivers from your work, ask if they have been there and ask directions.

6. Go over steps 4 and 5. Verify and memorize. Include landmarks and street names. Also, use a light version of this for ypur nightly shutdowns.

7. Execute and verify each step as you go. Replan as needed to adjust for changing conditions.


The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.


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.
Errol V.'s Comment
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I posted a diary of my first solo week at Swift. After a few weeks, my routine was not like this at all. Learn from every mistake. Experience is your best teacher. That's where all the above advice came from.

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