Like any job, an over-the-road (OTR) trucking career presents a unique set of challenges for maintaining the work-life balance. Since your truck plays the role of work and home, creating a lifestyle suited to you is doubly essential. You must manage your time between communicating with family and friends, leisure activities, exercise, sleep, and work.
However, finding balance is possible. Those who do can further enjoy the benefits a trucking career offers:
- Get paid to travel. Over-the-road drivers travel to all parts of the country. They visit rural areas and big cities and experience mountains, canyons, and ocean views while getting paid.
- Independence. Once truck drivers know their destination and delivery deadline, they can plan their days.
- Job security. Transporting goods from one location to another is crucial to the American economy, and truck drivers make it happen. There will always be a demand for truck drivers because moving freight is vital. As a result, you have built-in job security.
- Meet new people. There’s a network of people across the trucking industry, from customers at drop-offs and pick-ups to fellow drivers at truck stops. Truck drivers meet people from all walks of life.
Tips for How to Live On the Road
Although there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution for how to live on the road as a truck driver, there are several methods you can use to create balance.
1. Keep a Regular Schedule
Truck drivers can legally work up to 14 hours straight, divided by 11 hours of driving and 3 hours of related tasks. As a result, you get 10 hours off-duty per working period, as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Assuming you reserve 7-8 hours for sleeping each night, you have 2-3 hours of off-duty time to fill.
Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to keep a regular schedule to the best of your ability. Although you may take appointments at all hours of the day, try to parallel your “home” schedule as much as possible to maintain some consistency.
Ensure you fill your extra time with things that benefit you, such as leisurely walking, eating nutritious meals, laundry, showering, and shopping for essentials. Taking care of yourself helps your mental and physical health on the road.
The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep
Additionally, a full night’s sleep is imperative while working on the road. Staying awake and alert at the wheel keeps you and other drivers safe. Further, driving while tired can be fatal.
However, falling asleep in a new environment can be challenging for many people. If you’re struggling to get adequate rest while on the road, try using eye masks, ear plugs, or white noise machines to relax each night.
Battling fatigue while driving also poses difficulty. Diet and stress have significant impacts on your energy levels. To combat tiredness on the road, try the following:
- Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee or energy drinks can be good in moderation – excessive levels can lead to a “crash.”
- Stay hydrated. Drowsiness can directly result from dehydration. Ensure you’re drinking enough water to give your body the natural energy it needs.
- Adjust your environment. Certain environmental factors in the cab can contribute to tiredness. Boost your energy by keeping your truck cool, positioning your seat upright, and choosing music over talk shows.
- Take regular breaks as your trip allows. When planning your trip, allow ample time for regular breaks. Get out of the truck, walk a bit, and stretch. Doing so gives your body and mind a reset.
2. Plan Each Trip Beforehand
When dispatch gives you a load pick-up or drop-off assignment, analyze the travel distance and the expected delivery schedule. Then, calculate the following items:
- Driving time
- Fuel and meal stops
- Unexpected delays
- Weather forecast
Planning allows you to ensure the delivery stays on schedule and helps you decide where to stop, as amenities like showers, laundry, and shopping aren’t always available. Once you’ve made a plan, stick to it so you can stay healthy and safe. However, remain flexible as things can change on a dime – having a “Plan A” is awesome, but you may have to implement “Plan B” or “C.”
3. Maintain Regular Contact With Friends and Family
It’s more important to stay in touch with friends and family, so you don’t become isolated or lonely. Modern technology gives you several options to maintain contact through phone calls, video calls, texting, emailing, and social media. Sending regular messages to your loved ones helps you stay connected, regardless of distance.
Since you get to travel the country, find places to take your family on vacation later. You could even shop for gifts unique to specific locations and give them to your spouse or children. Staying up-to-date with loved ones benefits all parties involved.
4. Include Entertainment
There are plenty of entertainment options while on the road, whether you’re a reader, music fan, or love learning. While driving, you can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, the latest albums, or even college lectures. Plus, many trucks contain DVD players and flat-screen televisions so you can watch your favorite movies or shows.
5. Pack Home-Cooked Meals
Anyone who has taken a road trip knows that food options along the highway aren’t the healthiest. Although eating fast food every once in a while isn’t bad, doing so every day negatively impacts your health and energy in the long run.
Pack some home-cooked meals before you hit the road that you can microwave or eat cold. Having fresh, nutritious food on-hand is healthier and cheaper than the roadside alternatives.
6. Try New Hobbies
A great way to maintain the work-life balance as a truck driver is to occupy your downtime with activities you enjoy. Perhaps you like playing the guitar, or maybe you love journaling.
Depending on the destination, you could scope out the nearest restaurants, shopping, historical landmarks, or museums. Ensure you prioritize your well-being by exercising your mind and body.
How to Live On the Road: Tips from Witte Truck Drivers
Headquartered in Troy, MO, Witte Bros. Exchange is a transportation and cold storage company providing nationwide frozen LTL distribution programs and full-service cold storage facilities. Witte drivers dedicate their careers to serving customers across the country.
At Witte, we invest in the future generation of transportation professionals through our Truck Driving School and Student Trainee programs. Here are some tips from a couple of Witte’s Truck Driving School graduates about how to live on the road:
Interested in a New Career? Contact Witte Bros. Today
Starting a new career is an adjustment, but stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks can be highly rewarding. Everyone has different tactics for how to live on the road, but finding balance lets you experience all a truck driving career has to offer.
If you are interested in becoming a solo driver for Witte Bros., apply for our programs today!