Truck Driving with Your Spouse

Working with your spouse can be great fun, personally rewarding, and emotionally fulfilling. Or it could be a complete nightmare! It completely depends on whether its right for you, your perspective, and how you handle it. Some couples work really well together, while others aren’t used to it and just get in each other’s way. Truck driving is one of the few careers where you have the chance to work with your spouse if you both have a CDL. There are advantages and disadvantages to this option, and it’s not for everyone. There are also things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge truck driving with your spouse.

Advantages of truck driving with your spouse

One of the big advantages of driving together is that you have the chance to earn more money. Truck drivers earn based on how many miles they drive. The more you drive, the more you can earn. However, it’s not that easy. Mandated rest-time means you have to stop for breaks at regular times instead of pushing more miles. Good thing too actually, since driving without rest can lead to burnout and a higher chance of accidents! A well-rested driver will be fresher, more alert, and will have had time to recharge away from the job. However, rest-time only affects one driver at a time. If you’re truck driving with your spouse, you can cover more miles together than you would alone. One of you would rest while the other one drives. Yes, you should take a few breaks together as well! But the bottom line is that if you drive together you have the chance to cover more ground and earn more miles.

Another obvious advantage of truck driving with your spouse is the time you get to spend together. Truck driving is a unique profession which takes you away from home for long periods of time. OTR drivers have it particularly tough as they may see their family only after a few weeks on the road. Home time is a crucial factor which drivers consider before accepting job offers, and many drivers seek to balance work and home life. If you’re truck driving with your spouse, this changes the equation entirely. You don’t have to take off work to spend time together (HINT: you still should!). It’s easier to spend time together if your spouse is right there in the cabin with you and taking in life on the road. You should definitely balance spouse time with alone time and rest time. More on that below! Instead of your trucking career being a detriment to your home life, it could provide the chance to reduce loneliness and renew your marriage.

Truck driving with your spouse isn’t for everyone so here are some suggestions to consider before taking the plunge.

Tips for truck driving with your spouse

Depending on how you handle it, driving with your spouse can help you reconnect or can drive you further apart. One big indicator will be how you interact about work currently—before you decide to drive together. It would help to have some previous experience working together in other professions or contexts. Even being in the same workplace but not actually working together gives you some experience to build on. Did you find your previous experience to be positive? Even if you didn’t work together, you may have worked on shared projects together at home. How is your work style while sharing domestic tasks? Did you have a big argument about which furniture to buy, or how to rearrange the kitchen?

If you had positive experiences of making joint decisions and compromising when needed, it’s a good indicator that you’ll be comfortable working together behind the wheel.

Once you’re driving with your spouse, you’ll be spending plenty of time together. Suddenly you’ll have to think about getting enough alone time as opposed to getting enough home time. This can be a bit jarring to truck drivers since they usually have too much alone time and will be excited about spending time together. However much two people love each other, they can get on each other’s nerves if they spend too much time together, especially in cramped quarters. Make sure you both bring plenty of books, music, games, and other activities that can be used alone or in tandem. While your spouse is driving, you may want to be together part of the time, rest for another part, with the option to engage in a solo activity when needed.

Finally, truck driving with your spouse doesn’t have to be all work and no play! If you’re lucky enough that the arrangement works for you, make sure to get the most out of it. There can still be date nights and lazy afternoons even though you aren’t at home. Since you’re already on the road, get out of the truck and make sure to explore. There are beautiful scenic spots all across the country, and new towns and cities to explore together. You can even document your travels through photography and scrapbooks, or engage in a new hobby together. Previously mundane tasks like exercise or cooking can become more fun with a partner alongside you.

Don’t forget the importance of days off. Just because you’re together more often and get more rest, doesn’t mean you don’t need time away from work.

Getting away from trucking for a bit can help you reconnect with home and will leave you recharged for when you return to work. Couples who work together often fall into the danger of having their entire interactions be about work, so try to avoid that trap and keep your marriage interesting outside of trucking as well.

Overall, truck driving with your spouse can offer incredible advantages if you have the opportunity to do it. Being prepared for it and having the right perspective can make the difference between a rewarding and a frustrating experience.

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For emergencies, it’s better to be overly prepared than to be caught unprepared. This rings especially true for truck drivers. Drivers find themselves in all kinds of weather and road conditions, at all times of the day, and quite often in remote areas. It’s not practical to have everything you might ever need with you. But to make a truck driver’s life a little bit easier, here’s a list of 19 items to keep in your truck. Better to be safe than sorry!

Personal Items

1. Water & Food: This should go without saying, but any driver should have water and non-perishable foods available in their trucks. Even if you don’t have any cooling or cooking tools, keep at least a few days’ worth of water and food in the truck with you.

2. Medications: Have enough of each required prescription for the length of your trip. Probably even a few extras of each medication just in case. Best idea is to have them sorted out by day in a daily pill organizer, so that it’s convenient for you to know what to take and when.

3. First Aid Kit: Have a well-stocked first aid kit to treat minor injuries over the course of any trip. Band-Aids, pain relief medication, antibiotic ointment, and some basic bug bite creams are must haves for anyone spending time on the road.

4. Earplugs: Earplugs are a great idea for anyone working in a loud environment. Or anyone that might need to catch a good night’s sleep away from home.

5. Hygiene Items: A well-stocked shower caddy is a must have for anyone needing to grab a shower at a truck stop. Keep everything you need to stay clean, plus a pair of good flip-flops are necessary items to keep in your truck. For days when a shower stop just can’t happen, keep a package of personal wipes handy to stay fresh.

6. Good Blanket: For sleeping, and also in case of a breakdown in a colder area, a good blanket is a required item for any trucker. Find a good blanket that’s warm, and easy to roll-up and store during the day.

7. Winter Boots & Jacket: Being prepared for snowy weather is important for anyone travelling through areas where snow is a possibility. You might be the first one into the truck stops before the plows get there, or in case you get stuck and must walk somewhere in the snow. Good boots and a warm winter jacket are great to keep in your truck.

Safety and Basic Maintenance Tools

8. Toolbox: A small toolbox with all of the basics should be a staple for any truck driver. Be sure to check on the contents from time-to-time to make sure everything is in there, and in good working order. Consider keeping a folding shovel in with your other tools too!

9. Flashlight: A good basic safety item to keep in your truck. Whether you need it to look around once you’re in your cab for the night, or if you have to walk around in an unfamiliar area after dark, a flashlight with fresh batteries should be available at all times.

10. Headlamp: One step better than a flashlight, is a headlamp. When you want to have your hands free when walking around outside at night, or performing a basic repair, a headlamp with fresh batteries should be in your truck.

11. Work Gloves: Protect your hands when working on a repair, or moving around cargo. Keep a pair of gloves handy for working on or off of the truck.

12. Flares: In case of a breakdown, or if you stop to help someone who needs it, setting flares is a good idea to help other drivers be aware of trouble ahead.

13. Fire Extinguisher: At the first sign of a fire, be sure you can easily get to full fire extinguisher. Be sure to have them well maintained to ensure that they will work when you need them.

14. Printed List of Phone Numbers: Just in case your mobile phone malfunctions, have a list of important phone numbers printed somewhere. You can keep them on a small card in your wallet or somewhere easy to get to in your truck.

Entertainment and Electronics

Porapak Apichodilok

15. Tablet: A smart phone loaded with basic trucker apps goes without saying. A tablet is a real video upgrade for your non-driving time in the truck. A subscription to a streaming movie channel will help make the hours go by faster before you’re asleep for the night.

16. Mounts: Having mounts for your portable electronics can help you better navigate during the day, and have a more relaxing experience watching a movie at night. Have one mount for each device or an adjustable one that can work with everything.

17. Chargers & Batteries: All of your tools and electronics should be well-charged or have a fresh set of batteries. Keep your chargers handy, and spare batteries available for any long-haul trip.

18. Hobbies: Are you an amateur photographer? Or a budding musician? Bring along the things you need to keep up with your hobbies or passions while you’re out on the road.

19. Duct Tape: We’ll mention this one last, as it’s the all-purpose, universal item that comes in handy for just about anything! Keep this in your tool kit along with plenty of blinker fluid and you’ll be ready for any needed repairs that come your way.

Let us know the one unique thing that you always keep with you in your truck. Or something that’s saved you in a pickle at some point. Our readers are always looking for a new idea to make their lives just a little bit easier. Drop a note in the comments below, or on our Facebook page here. We’d be happy to share your great ideas!

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“I know a great app for that”! That’s a pretty common thing to hear whenever you’re trying to find a new way to be more efficient or focused about some aspect of your life. There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps available for your mobile devices, with more being added daily. We’ve put together a list of a few great truck driver app suggestions to make your life easier.

Truck Driver Apps to Make Driving Easier

1. Waze

Waze: one of the largest travel and traffic app, with over 100 million downloads. Maps are user-updated minute-to-minute. The app gives the most current traffic conditions and potential reroutes due to traffic jams or road closures. In changing traffic conditions, Waze can keep you moving instead of wasting time sitting in traffic jams.

2. Gasbuddy

Gasbuddy: this is a great app to help you keep your gas expenses low. This app provides very timely user-sourced information about gas prices in your current location. As well as locations that you’re planning on stopping at further down the road. If you are given incentives to keep gas prices low, this app and a little extra planning helps you save!

3. TruckerPath

TruckerPath: for help finding weigh stations, rest stops, and amenity info at those truck stops. Considered by some as the most versatile apps for truckers, it can also give weather updates and provide opportunities for truckers to communicate with each other out on the road.

4. Camscanner

Camscanner: This app can help make it easier to keep track of all your receipts that you accumulate while out on the road. You can scan receipts and easily save to the cloud rather than risk losing paper copies. This scanning app works any time, anywhere, without the need for any additional equipment. It’s a great truck driver app that will help keep your expense reports accurate.

Truck Driver Apps to Make Life Easier

5. Keep or 6. Evernote

Keep or Evernote: these apps are very useful for keeping track of to-do lists, reminders or other notes that you  might normally write in a portable notebook. Collect information and keep everything in a handy app for access across all of your mobile devices. Quickly create practical notes like grocery lists or new music to download. It can even save more detailed notes to help you keep your thoughts organized if you’re thinking about writing a book!

7. Skype

Skype: this app has been downloaded literally billions of times. This app helps you keep in touch with family and friends while out on the road. It allows you to have a video chat, rather than just a phone call or text conversation. Skype is also is a great tool for messaging, screen-sharing, and file sharing. You can use this app to help plan date nights or be a “virtual” part of family activities that you might otherwise miss.

8. Headspace

Headspace: we highlighted this app a while back and had great response from some drivers. This app is beneficial to reduce anxiety and boost mindfulness & happiness at any point in the day. If you need a quick 2-minute stress-reliever, or a longer, more soothing session to help you sleep, Headspace is a great app for your overall mental health.

Lastly, we’ll mention a type of app that can help you spend LESS time on your phone. If you think you’re wasting too much time online, one of these could be beneficial to you. With the increase in the amount of time people spend on their phones every day, these types of apps are also gaining popularity.

9. Flipd or 10. ScreenTime

If you think you’ve got an issue with the amount of time you’re spending on your phone, or on social media, you can try either Flipd or ScreenTime. These tools help you track your online time. You can also block selected apps from being used during set hours of the day.

It seems every day there’s a new app created to help you in one way or another. Some are great for making life easier, others are great for keeping in touch. And still others that are simply ways to play games or help pass the time. We hope this short list of recommended truck driver apps is helpful to you. If you’ve got a suggestion for a great app for another trucker to try out, mention it in the comments section below, or drop a link on our Facebook page here. We’d love to share your great ideas with other drivers!

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otr driver

OTR truck drivers have one of the coolest jobs. Their office is a window to the world, or at least the country. As an OTR truck driver, your job will take you all around the US. You may have the opportunity to visit popular attractions and travel destinations across the country. Some of these are on the bucket lists of most Americans. Here are 8 top places to see in America as an OTR driver.

lake tahoe8. Lake Tahoe

Often forgotten among top travel destination lists, North America’s largest alpine lake still enjoys visitors year-round. Nestled between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is known for its stunning clear water.

The area surrounding the lake is surrounded by a panorama of mountains on all sides. In the winter months, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding through one of the numerous resorts in the area. The warmer months will offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and boating.

mount rushmore7. Mount Rushmore

Visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota will give you a chance to pay tribute to America’s greatest presidents. The sculpture is carved into the granite face of the mountain and features the 60-foot heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation’s birth, growth, development, and preservation, respectively. Sometimes referred to as the “Shrine of Democracy”, the sculpture is unlike any other in North America. Families can enjoy hiking trails, ranger talks, and lighting ceremonies. If you’re in the area, consider touring the surrounding Black Hills and the South Dakota Badlands, known for its sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles.

Florida Keys6. The Florida Keys

Sure, the Florida Keys aren’t one single destination to see, but if you’re there you might as well see it all. You can traverse the entire coral cay archipelago, including the seven-mile-bridge. Key West is home to the southernmost point in the continental United States and offers pristine beaches and a lively bar and restaurant scene.

In Key Largo, you can find some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving spots in the country. The entire area is known for its ecological preservation, including the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater park in the United States. Visitors flock to the Keys to enjoy all sorts of water recreation including snorkeling, sailing, deep-sea fishing, or simply lounging on the beaches. No trip to Florida is complete without seeing the Keys at least once.

yosemite national park5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California boasts nearly 768,000 acres of land with granite cliffs, towering waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees. Over 4 million people visit this UNESCO world heritage site every year.

Among the famous spots here are El Capitan, a sheer granite rock that measures about 3,600 feet tall, and Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall. Yosemite is a popular destination all year-round, even though the best hiking months are when its warmer. Tuolumne Meadows is a hiker’s delight, complete with alpine lakes, rivers, and mountain peaks. The diversity of the terrain, along with the unique flora and fauna, make Yosemite one of America’s great treasures.

everglades4. The Everglades

If you’ve never seen a tropical wetland before, the Everglades should be at the top of your must-see list. The Everglades National Park comprises only 20 percent of the original Everglades region in Florida. It’s the largest tropical wilderness in the United States, with over 1 million people visiting the park every year.

As another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Everglades functions to preserve a fragile ecosystem, along with many threatened or protected species such as the Florida panther and American crocodile. Visit the River of Grass, where you’ll find the largest stand of old-growth cypress trees on Earth, along with alligators and black bears. The 15-mile Shark Valley Scenic Loop tram or airboat tour will also offer spectacular views right through the glades, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings.

yellowstone national park3. Yellowstone National Park

With over 2 million acres, Yellowstone is so massive that it spans three states- Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the US Congress and signed into law in 1872, making it the first national park in the US. Yellowstone is famous the world over for its wildlife and geothermal features like lakes, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges.

The park is open year-round and offers different recreational activities each season, to complement the must-see natural wonders. Yellowstone Lake is one of the highest elevation lakes in North America. It’s centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. Half of the world’s geysers are in Yellowstone, including the famous Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes. Yellowstone is another original American natural treasure.

niagara falls2. Niagara Falls

Rightly considered one of North America’s great natural wonders, the Niagara Falls State Park and Heritage Area is housed between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York. The Falls are actually comprised of three waterfalls- the largest Horseshoe Falls which straddles the border, the American falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.

During peak daytime hours, more than 168,000 cubic meters (six million cubic feet) of water goes over the crest of the falls every minute. The best views of the Falls are undoubtedly from a helicopter tour or from the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Alternately, you can stay until dark when the falls are lighted or walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side. The Falls are famed the world over for their beauty and enjoys an average of 20 million visitors annually.

grand canyon1. Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon frequently tops lists of best places to visit in the country, and for good reason. The canyon is carved by the Colorado River in Arizona and is a testament to nearly 5 million years of water cutting through layer after layer of rock. The canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over a mile.

The park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions and enjoys about five million visitors per year. Once again, helicopter tours or other aerial sightseeing offer some of the best views of the canyon. On foot hiking tours will also offer some jaw-dropping vantage points. Aside from sightseeing, visitors can also enjoy rafting and camping. Along with Yellowstone and Yosemite, the Grand Canyon completes the holy trinity of must-see natural wonder sites in America.

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safety tips for truck drivers

On the road truck driving is one of the most important jobs for the economy. It ensures timely delivery of important goods all across the country. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous jobs. In 2017, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 9-percent increase from 2016, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Truck driving comes with the heavy responsibility of safety for yourself, your cargo, and others on the road. Every great truck driver is going to try to prioritize safety. Here are ten essential safety tips for truck drivers.

1. Defensive driving

Driving defensively means being constantly aware and vigilant for changing or unexpected road conditions. You have to take particular care for motorists who don’t understand trucks and how they operate. Make sure you leave enough space ahead of you—about twice the distance of that the average motorist keeps. Braking distance is the time it takes for the truck to reach a stop once the brake has been applied. The average braking distance for a commercial truck is about 4 seconds. If you’re traveling 55 mph, that’s another 390 feet until you come to a complete stop.

2. Regulate your speed

Of course, you want to follow the speed limit. When it comes to trucking, there are even times when the posted speed limit is too fast.

Take corners, curves, and ramps very slowly!

This is an example of when the posted speed is for cars and not big rigs. Trucks can easily tip over if approaching these too fast. You also will want to take weather and traffic conditions into account for your speed. Know when to slow down, and when you can afford to speed up. You probably shouldn’t be driving at top speed anywhere except the middle of a deserted Interstate on a clear day.

3. Vehicle maintenance

Make sure you complete your pre-trip inspection. The tires and brakes are especially vital given how much weight is riding on them. Any abnormalities should be reported to dispatch right away. If you skip steps in your inspection, or gloss over them, you are compromising your safety and the safety of others on the road!

4. Weather conditions

Subscribe to weather alerts, so that you’re aware of the weather conditions before departing on a trip. Winter weather is especially dangerous as it causes roughly 25% of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. You should be cutting your speed in half for snowy or icy roads. Allow more time for everything in winter weather—signal longer before turning, double your following space, and change speed more carefully. If you see other truckers pulling over, consider doing the same.

5. Work zones

Work zones will present many hazards for truck drivers, like lane shifts, sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, moving workers or equipment, and erratic behavior from other motorists.

About one third of all fatal work zone accidents involve large trucks.

Keep an eye out for road workers and adjust accordingly. Along with obeying all work zone signs, you can also slow down, maintain extra following space, and be prepared to stop quickly.

6. Minimal lane changes

The most adept truck drivers pick a lane and stay in it. The chances of getting into an accident increase every time the truck moves to another lane. If you absolutely have to change lanes, move over very carefully and slowly. Check your mirrors, be aware of blind spots, and signal well ahead of time. Remember that most motorists don’t know how to react to a lane-switching truck, so you’ll have to take that into account. Avoid lane changes during heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, or during night driving.

7. Check delivery spots

Here’s a safety tip veteran truck drivers will recommend to you.

Scope out your delivery spots on foot if possible.

A truck can easily get trapped or unable to turn around into a tight or unmanageable delivery location, even if the shipper assures you that they have trucks there all the time. When delivering to a new customer, find a place to park safely, leave the rig secured, and check out the delivery spot on foot. Shippers may not be aware of all the hazards or obstacles that make it difficult to turn your rig around. A large fraction of accidents take place while backing up, so try to avoid that if possible.

8. Trip and route planning

If you plan your route ahead of time, you’ll be aware of road and weather conditions, detours, work zones, and other obstacles. Non-commercial GPS navigation systems and apps may not be the most complete or accurate guides for truckers. They also don’t provide warning of height and weight limitations. Invest in a GPS especially designed for truckers which shows vital info like which exits to take, distance before exit, when to change lanes, etc. Don’t rely on any one resource entirely, and cross-reference your information. The Rand McNally Road Atlas is another invaluable tool for truck drivers.

9. Remain alert

This is probably the single most important of the safety tips for truck drivers. Good driving requires you to remain alert at all times and that means no distracted driving. At any given second you may face changing traffic, road conditions, poor weather, or unpredictable motorists.

If you’re distracted, you won’t be able to react in the fraction of a second that is needed.

Texting is the worst driving distraction as the odds of being involved in an accident are 23 times greater for truck drivers who are texting. Add to that list anything that will take the focus off the road such as eating, map reading, or interacting with a navigational device excessively. Make sure you are well rested and getting enough sleep to feel refreshed and alert behind the wheel. If you’re drowsy, pull over. These cautionaries are drilled into truck drivers for good reason but are still worth repeating. If you need to attend to something other than driving, then get off the next exit. Remember that none of those distractions are worth risking your life over.

10. Use seat belts

This one is a no-brainer but super important. Remember to buckle up every time you drive the rig. Don’t take the risk. Seat belts have been shown to save lives and reduce injuries. It also protects you from being ejected from your vehicle in case of a crash.

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truck driver pto days

CDL truck drivers have a high amount of stress compared to most other jobs. Long hours, time away from home, and difficult driving conditions all contribute to a stressed-out truck driver. On top of that, drivers have to follow multiple rules and regulations, and make sure they are meeting the needs of shippers, receivers, and dispatchers. A 34-hour reset doesn’t always give you a break from the trucking job and lifestyle, so it’s important to take truck driver vacation days from work. Taking time away from trucking to spend with family and friends, or even just time to yourself, can be incredibly beneficial to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Here’s everything you need to know about truck driver PTO days.

1. Make sure you have PTO days

Ideally, your carrier has a good vacation policy, so you have enough PTO days to be able to utilize when you see fit. Make sure to ask about PTO when you’re searching for trucking jobs, and before you accept any job offers.

Although PTO may be lower on your list of job factors to consider, don’t underestimate the advantages of vacation time. If you’ve already accepted a job offer from a carrier and haven’t taken PTO for a while, take the time to familiarize yourself with the PTO policy. You may be surprised by how generous it may be and can learn about how to maximize PTO based on rollover or other policy details.

Once you know you want to use PTO, talk to your manager as soon as you can. The earlier you can inform your fleet manager about upcoming days off, the more flexibility they can have.

Of course, you’ll want to finalize vacation plans with your family in advance also. Don’t forget that the earlier you plan the vacation, the cheaper the airfare and hotel costs will be. The exception to this is if it is during peak travel season or holidays. While traveling during holidays may be unavoidable, it is best to make any additional airline travel plans off-season, if possible. Even if you aren’t planning to travel out of town for the PTO days, you want to make sure your days off don’t coincide with important work days for your spouse, or important school days for the kids.

2. Use trucking to your travel advantage

Having a trucking job doesn’t have to make having PTO days difficult. In fact, you can use trucking routes to your advantage. Your family vacation destination could be at or near your typical routes. Maybe you and your spouse always wanted to spend a few days taking in the sights in Denver, but never got around to it. Or perhaps that long OTR run to Arizona gives you the perfect excuse to finally see the Grand Canyon. You can also try to fly out of airports near your trucking delivery stops and meet your family at the destination directly if it can save you money. Many travel websites have tips about which airlines have cheaper tickets depending where you’re flying out of.

Trip planning can be a hassle for anyone, but truckers can find the time easily.

Use the time you have between drives or at truck stops to research and make detailed travel plans.

There are also dozens of travel podcasts full of trip ideas and fun facts about interesting destinations. Using books or podcasts, picking out a travel destination with your family can be easy even if you’re on the road. Some helpful online resources include Trip Advisor, Airbnb, Kayak, and Hotels for Truckers. Remember that if you make some plans before the vacation, it can help save time later, and ensure you spend the time relaxing. Even if you’re not going out of town for PTO days, planning activities and outings ahead of time will make it easier.

3. Ideas for truck driver PTO days

Regardless of your destination, there are some activities you can pursue anywhere. Of course, you’ll want to sight-see the local attractions, and catch a bit of the local culture.

Apart from that, here are some ideas of how to theme your getaway based on what you enjoy about travel:

Outdoor adventure

Always a favorite for families regardless of where you go. Look for state or national parks and find some tips on the best hiking trails or camping grounds. The more adventurous can try to spend a few days in a cabin in the woods (no Wi-Fi!) or go rock climbing or mountain biking. Being outdoors doesn’t have to be daunting though—even sitting by a lake while fishing or reading a book can do wonders for relaxation.

Culinary exploration

The food scene everywhere is different. Step out of your comfort zone and try your hand at a new cuisine. If you’re traveling, it’s a must-do to take in the local or regional cuisine, whether its Chicago pizza, Tex Mex, or Louisiana gumbo. Many destinations will also offer the best in global cuisine. Some people are surprised by how spicy or sweet different international dishes can be. If you’re staying in town during PTO, it’s still a great excuse to try a different Thai restaurant or the trendy new brewery.

Family fun

Whether it’s science museums or sports arenas, there are always some family-friendly events for kids of all ages to enjoy. Outdoor events like festivals and ballgames are popular throughout the summer. Even a day at the pool can be a welcome getaway. Science and history museums will offer kids fun and learning at the same time. If your child has visited the local science museum a dozen times, they’re probably still up for going back and exploring.

Date night

Spend some quality time with your partner by planning a date night during your PTO day. You can catch a show in town or go bar-hopping after dinner at a nicer restaurant. Staying in is always fun too: pamper your spouse by opening a bottle of wine and offering to cook a meal for the two of you. Taking time off from trucking gives you the chance to keep the romance alive.

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great truck driver

Whether you’ve recently begun your CDL trucking journey, or you’ve been driving for 20 years, you probably have the goal of being a great truck driver. Truckers enjoy the freedom and independence that the road brings, and along with it the opportunity to really succeed at the job and strive for improvement. Drivers know that nothing beats the pride and dignity that comes from a job well done, and the knowledge that you’re doing honest work to provide for themselves and their families. Whether you’re a rookie driver or a veteran, there’s always room for improvement. Here are five secrets to becoming a great truck driver.

1. Safety

Veteran drivers all keep coming back to this point: safety is a driver’s number one priority.

Truck driving can be a dangerous job considering freight and road safety. Drivers are responsible for maintaining the safety of their freight, themselves, and other motorists on the road. Remember that other drivers may not be familiar with the challenges and differences in driving a truck, so you may have to go out of your way to ensure their safety as well. Safety also involves having a good mechanical aptitude in case you need to troubleshoot equipment issues while on the road.

Truly great drivers take their safety department’s concerns seriously and do the due diligence to maintain safety. Pre and post trip inspections form the backbone of safety, but it can and should go much beyond that. Maintaining a safe and accident-free record will also clear the path for continued professional success with that carrier. If you’re hoping to switch to another carrier or become an owner-operator one day, a strong safety record will be essential.

2. Build relationships

Truck driving is often considered to be a solo gig- it’s just you and the open road. But drivers are actually in constant communication with others, whether it is dispatchers, fleet managers, or other drivers. You’ll also interact with shippers and receivers, and other reps from your own carrier or others.

The secret is that you need all these people in your corner to be successful.

So, a truly great truck driver seeks to build relationships with all these colleagues.

No man is an island, and no one does it alone, so seek to build a network of people you can communicate and work well with. Always strive to be courteous and respectful to everyone and try to be easy to work with. While trucking can be challenging, avoid projecting your negativity on colleagues since it may come back to bite you. In addition, great drivers need to avoid negativity from others impacting them, since the job is too important to be affected by someone’s bad attitude.

3. Prioritize health

Great drivers are the ones who don’t let the challenges of the job negatively impact their health and lifestyle. It’s no secret that truck driving is considered an unhealthy profession. Between the schedule challenges and sitting behind the wheel for hours at a time, it can take a toll on the mind and body.

Great truck drivers know that these aren’t excuses to neglect their mental and physical health.

Truck drivers can take simple measures to improve their diet and find time to exercise regularly. Some drivers cook in their cabins, or find small snacks to continually munch on, instead of relying on the greasy truck stop food. Similarly, finding about 15 minutes to exercise everyday can make a big difference in a truck driver’s lifestyle. Not having access to a gym shouldn’t be a problem since many exercises can be done in or around your truck, or in parking lots. While a trucker’s schedule is rarely regular, making sure you get proper sleep will help keep you alert and allow the body to rest and mind to feel fresh. Great truck drivers are the ones who are happier because they found a way to prioritize health despite the obstacles.

4. Professional attitude

The difference between a good truck driver and a great truck driver probably boils down just to attitude. Companies are looking to hire drivers who have certain characteristics. They want to make sure drivers can be reliable, responsible, honest, and work hard.

However good a driver’s record, credentials, or skills are, there’s no substitute for good character.

Keeping this in mind, make sure you’re always on time. Being reliable shows everyone that you take the scheduling seriously and can be depended on to make deliveries on time. Timeliness will also shine through when you’re looking to get promotions or raises or looking for a better driving job elsewhere.

A professional attitude also means not complaining too much, or at least too loudly and to the wrong people. While trucking can be frustrating, complaining to your colleagues only reflects poorly on yourself instead of anyone else. Find a different outlet for complaining about work and maintain a professional attitude to distinguish yourself from other drivers. Working hard means sometimes taking the appealing runs or working extra when no one else can. Yes, it’s a sacrifice and you can’t do it every time. But whenever you do take that extra step, it will be noticed and will probably help in the future. Truck driving has become a more professional job, whether the general public realizes it or not. Treat yourself with respect and dignity, and maintain a professional attitude through all the troubles, and others will probably do the same.

5. Don’t forget life outside of trucking

Here’s a big secret to becoming a great truck driver: don’t think of trucking all the time.

Work-life balance is important in any profession, and it’s no different for truck drivers. In fact, there’s more of a risk that trucking can become all-consuming, so it’s important to know when to hit the metaphorical brakes and rest. Great truck drivers make sure that they find enough time to spend with their families. Even while away from home, you can Skype with the kids or enjoy a virtual date night with your partner. Finding a job with good home time will allow you to take a break from trucking, refuel and energize, and then return.

Even while on the road, great truckers will find hobbies to engage in. Some truckers like photography or cooking. Others have gotten into reading or audiobooks. Some others are passionate about travel or exercise.

Whatever your passion is, don’t leave it by the wayside just because you’re a truck driver.

Engaging in hobbies and leisure will help ensure a sound body and mind for work-life balance. Not only will you reset and forget the stresses of the job, but you’ll be better prepared for them when you get back to work. Remember: trucking isn’t everything!

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trucker datingTruck drivers who travel long distances have a very tough schedule and a very stressful job. Driving all of those miles without getting any time at home for a week (or more) can take a toll on all of their personal relationships. This type of schedule is even tougher for the trucker who’s starting, or looking to start, a new relationship. So, when talking about trucker dating, how can you maintain an over the road relationship?

1. Technology Can Help

There are many things you can do to stay connected with loved ones while away… innovative ways to connect beyond just phone calls.

Open lines of communication are key to any good relationship. Plan for a video call once you’re parked for the night. Download an easy to use app for your phone, such as Skype or Facetime. These allow you have a face-to-face conversation, even if you’re thousands of miles from home. You can share your location’s current view and can see your partner’s face and surroundings. You could even virtually have dinner together this way. Not quite as good as being there, but so much more personal than just a phone call or a text.

2. Make Your Time Together Special

During the week, spend some time planning out your time together. It’s always a great mood booster to have something to look forward to! Maybe it’s a romantic restaurant that you both love, a nice hike in a local park to relax and unwind, or maybe a fun night at a local music event. No matter what the plans are, put some thought into making it special, and it will make the time pass more quickly until you’re together.

3. Trust is a Must

Keeping your eyes on the road could have a few different meanings when dating. Certainly, the obvious one of not being distracted while driving. It also can mean that during downtime at rest stops or when parked for the night, don’t let wandering eyes lead to trouble in your dating relationship. Building trust early is so important, especially when trucker dating. Don’t give your partner any reason to question your dedication, and vice versa. Be honest and trustworthy, and your significant other will do the same.

As a truck driver, the prospect of dating can be daunting. Travel schedule, time away from home, long hours during the day and sleeping at truck stops can make things tough for any relationship. But making the most of the technology options available, keeping focused on your job and your health in your downtime, and always having something special to look forward to with your partner can make things easier. And knowing there’s a trucker dating community out there who have successful relationships at home while out on the road. Keeping your relationship healthy can lead to a healthier life overall for any trucker.

Long Distance Date Ideas

Looking for more ideas to keep your relationship strong while you’re over the road? We’ve got you covered.

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If you’re thinking about starting a new career in trucking, then you’ve probably been learning about how to enroll in CDL classes. The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is what the Department of Transportation requires all drivers to obtain before being able to drive trucks professionally. Programs which offer CDL classes include community colleges and technical schools. CDL training usually lasts several weeks and includes behind-the-wheel training and classroom preparation. Eventually, truck drivers will take a series of written exams and skills tests to be officially granted a CDL permit. The permit is the first step to finding your first driving job with a trucking carrier. Here’s everything you need to know before taking CDL classes.

What is the CDL?

Students who want to become professional truck drivers must earn a Class A CDL. There are many other classes of the CDL which we detail further below. The type of CDL you obtain will determine what kinds of trucks you’re permitted to drive. The first step is to make sure you qualify. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets the minimum standards that states must follow regarding the CDL, but it is the responsibility of the state to administer the license itself. Thus, some of the requirements vary some state to state. Each state is in charge of the application process, license fee, renewal procedures, and renewal cycle.

Requirements

There are some universal requirements in order to qualify for the CDL. Applicants must be 18 years old and must have a valid driver’s license from the state where they are training. They must also submit driving records from the past 3-5 years. Different states may have slightly different physical requirements to evaluate medical fitness before applicants can qualify for the CDL.

Most CDL programs or trucking carriers want a clean three-year motor vehicle record

This means no speeding tickets, DUIs, accidents, or suspensions in that time. Some companies will be more lenient than others and may encourage you to reapply in the future. Applicants must also pass a drug screening, physical examination, and background check.

Training

CDL classes will provide a mix of classroom studies and hands-on driving training. Students are expected to gain familiarity with the machinery and concepts on the road. Driving topics and techniques that are covered include close quarters driving, city driving, highway driving, road signs and rules, turning and backing-up the truck, and others. Classes will also cover a range of other helpful topics such as trucking industry information, safety and first aid, materials and cargo, state and federal laws, trip planning and routing, managing logbooks, and more. Coupling and uncoupling a trailer is another unique skill you might learn in most programs. Finally, understanding pre- and post-trip inspections is another essential skill you’ll learn.

CDL Classes

There isn’t just one CDL. There are three CDL classes which are required to operate different types of motor vehicles. This will determine what kinds of trucking jobs you can take. The three CDL classes are:

  • Class A: required for any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the GVWR of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class A license are primarily tractor-trailers for long-distances.
  • Class B: required for any single vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,000 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. Vehicles requiring a Class B CDL license may include buses, dump trucks, tow trucks, delivery trucks and garbage trucks.
  • Class C: Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the criteria of either Class A or Class B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or is used in transporting materials classified as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act

In addition to the license, a CDL holder can complete and pass additional testing to receive certain endorsements. These prepare you for specialized trucking jobs. You can gain them along with your CDL or add them later along the way. The endorsements include:

  • T: Double/Triple Trailers- requires knowledge test only
  • P: Passenger- requires knowledge and skills tests
  • N: Tank vehicle- requires knowledge test only
  • H: Hazardous materials- requires knowledge test only
  • X: Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials endorsements- requires knowledge test only
  • S: School Bus- requires knowledge and skills tests

Finding a good CDL program

In order to complete CDL classes, you need to find a solid program. You’ll need to consider the quality of training and the cost and practicality of the program before you apply. Most CDL classes are offered by dedicated truck driving schools or community colleges. Some carriers may offer to help you obtain your CDL in return for committing to working there for a period afterwards.

Make sure to consider all your options before deciding on which type of program is best for you

Location and cost are definitely factors- ideally you want to find classes close to you, but if there is a better program further away, it may be a better choice. The cost of a good program is considerable- you can expect to pay between $4,000 to $10,000 for CDL training. There are plenty of grants and other financial aid options available since there is a shortage of drivers, so be sure to do your research before dropping a pretty penny.

The quality of training is the most important thing to consider. Remember that a good program length is several weeks, or about 160-200 hours of training.

If you find programs offering a CDL within a week or two, it’s probably too good to be true

You also want to make sure you get enough behind-the-wheel time in your CDL classes, although observational time is beneficial also. The student to instructor ratio and the quality of the instructors are strong indicators of the quality of the program. Good instructors are usually former/current drivers or industry specialists. Many programs will have some sort of job placement or networking service which can help you land that first truck driving job. You can read more about how to choose a CDL driving school on our previous post about the topic.

Taking the tests

Once you’ve completed your training in CDL classes, it’s time to proceed to the exams. You’ll get the Class A CDL by passing a series of written exams, which differ by state. In most states, these include tests on General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination vehicles. In addition, you must pass a CDL driving test. Usually this is a three-part exam which includes a pre-trip inspection test, basic control skills test, and driving test. This skills test must take place at either a state CDL test site or an approved third-party test site in the testing state. Once the skills test has been passed, a driver can be issued an actual CDL license from that state.

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The truck driver shortage is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. In order to fill the open jobs, the pool of drivers needs to find ways to grow. This is attracting many new job seekers to enter this hot job market. Women are entering training programs and getting their CDL endorsements. So, for women truck drivers seeking their first trucking job, what can they expect?

Training is Important

Women trucker drivers go through the same training and licensing requirements as men do. The difference might be that women might look for programs that have women included in their advertising, websites, and in their list of instructors or staff. Or even a program that has a course specifically geared towards women. This might differentiate a school that will offer a program that will be a better fit for a woman entering the industry vs. one that doesn’t feel welcoming or respectful of women in a trucking job.

Male-Dominated

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up about 6.6% of all truck drivers. And that number has been fairly steady (4.5% – 6%) over the past 15 years. Something women truckers can expect to find is that it is a still a HIGHLY male-dominated profession. Women truck drivers might frequently find that she’s the only female trucker at a truck stop. And she could be the only one in the lot waiting on loads where all the other drivers are men. Women trucker drivers also find that truck stop showers and parking lots might be places to use extra caution at night.

Physical Job

Life on the road is a physical job, and it’s important to stay healthy. Part of that is being prepared for the physical demands of the job as well as the mental aspects as well. Many of the today’s trucks have features and improvements that make them easier to drive and maintain.

But there are other aspects of the jobs that demand women truck drivers stay in good shape. Cleaning out trailers, moving loads around, covering and tacking down cargo, are all things a driver might have to do daily. And this job can be very stressful, so maintaining your mental health is important too. You can find a great ebook resource for staying healthy on the road here.

Whether it’s the lure of the freedom of driving a big rig along miles of open road after years at a desk job, or a change of pace once the kids have moved out, being a CDL truck driver can be a great career for a woman. If you’re looking for a perfect fit truck driving job for you, start here and complete a profile. You can list all your driving preferences and we can help match you with an opportunity tailored specifically to you.

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