Packing List for Truck Driving School

by rbradyjohnsen

Before he left, my husband and I were arguing about things I should pack for the road. He thought I was being obsessively neat and organized and over-packing. Now he is super-grateful at the way it was done. So far, he hasn't said there was anything he would have skipped.

He did mention that he wished he had another book or two (in case there ever is any down time) and, since he missed the food-run shuttle, some more snacks. And maybe a couple more t-shirts, because it was hot and he was nervous...I packed 10, and he already had to do laundry by the 3rd day of school! The only thing is that the lockers are really small, so you just have to fit in anything valuable and sort of take your chances with the rest of your stuff. I say if someone wants to steal his old socks and undies, let 'em have it!

I still have (my copy of) the list of what he took (which we went over numerous times, checking things off as we packed them). That's right, I have a little OCD. He went by bus and there were weight restrictions on the luggage (One 25 lb carry-on, one 50-lb checked bag and a Sleeping Bag/Pillow which he carried on separately), so we kept weighing it by jumping on the bathroom scale. Here is what he took:

Money and Documents:

  • Wallet
  • Debit Card
  • A few Checks in case the debit card stops working (happens randomly, but we are in contact with the bank to let them know he's traveling)
  • Some Cash
  • Social Security Card
  • Driver's License (+ class A permit and DOT medical card, neither of which seemed to be much good there)
  • Original copy of Birth Certificate
  • Money Orders for school fees

School and Staying Organized:

  • CDL book to study
  • Notebooks (1 or 2)
  • Folders (several) to help him organize any paperwork he accumulates in school and afterwards
  • Post-its and a highlighting marker
  • Calculator
  • Pens and pencils
  • Ruler
  • Work Gloves
  • Flashlight (I unpacked the extra batteries, too heavy)
  • Padlock (for school locker)

Personal Items:

  • Book (Who Goes Out in the Midday Sun, about a young British guy who treks thru the Amazon by himself, has to eat his dog and nearly dies! I thought it would help keep his mind off things.) I wanted to send at least 1 more, but they are heavy.
  • Glasses (prescription) and 2 pair Sunglasses (both broken or lost in less than 4 days)
  • Cell Phone, regular charger, and mobile charger
  • Meds (he has an inhaler he hardly ever uses + some aspirin, Tylenol, antacid, Bandaids)
  • A couple of photos, so he won't forget me.


  • Sunscreen
  • Towels (only packed 3, they take up so much space)
  • Wet Wipes (it's messy out there w/o running water)
  • Kleenex (just part of a box)
  • Beard trimmer (he refused to take the charger, so good luck to him!)
  • Little Scissors (nose hairs growing down into your mustache is NOT good) and a Nail Clipper
  • Laundry Detergent (it was heavy, so I put some ultra-concentrate into a small-ish drinking water bottle) and a dozen or so Fabric Softener sheets (which he actually appreciated, whudda thunk?)
  • Mesh Laundry Bag
  • Shampoo
  • Soap (in individual ziploc baggies, cuz you can't leave it in the shower you're sharing with 7 other guys)
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste (he won't floss, the big dummy)
  • Deodorant (spray and stick)
  • Cologne (optional)
  • Shave Cream and Disposable Razors

* I packed anything that could spill or would be getting wet in ziploc baggies (used 3 different sizes) + put in some extras for later...they're so useful. I also stuck in a couple of empty plastic bags for garbage or whatever.


  • One extra pair of Tennis Shoes (brand-new white ones, so geeky)
  • Flip Flops, to wear in dirty showers
  • Jacket (in case it gets cold + he had a windbreaker on) Skipped the raincoat, too bulky.
  • 2 Sweaters (he'll need more later)
  • 5 pairs Jeans
  • 3 pairs Shorts
  • 10 T-Shirts
  • A Dozen pairs Socks
  • A Dozen pairs Underpants
  • Hat

Laundry chores will be easier if you choose simple clothing that's all dark (black, blue, etc.) so you can wash it all together. Or, for those like my nutty husband who will only wear white socks and tightie-whities...pack a few white shirts so you have something to wash them with. Or you will have some very ugly, sort of grayish-dirty looking whites.

I also packed a change of socks/shirt in a plastic bag in the carry-on, in case he got sweaty during the 32-hour bus ride. They stopped every hour to smoke, but never to shower!

And I packed him a bunch of Snacks in the carry-on:

  • mini (soft) cooler with 2 sandwiches, 3 pops and a bottle of water
  • beef jerky
  • mini candy bars/peanut mandm's
  • peanuts
  • tons of granola bars (crunchy and chewy)
  • gum (mint and bubble)

It sounds like a lot but it all fit nicely (I'm a good packer). And he's been so glad he's got things that other guys have complained about not having. A word of caution: bring valuables, such as a laptop computer or digital camera, at your own risk. They do get stolen if you don't watch them carefully!

Note: This was too much to bring with the trainer, so he was able to lock up the excess at the school when he was out on the road. He took just absolute necessities with him in the carry-on bag.


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.


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.


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Driving While Intoxicated


Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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