As a brand-new OTR trucking professional, you’ll adjust to life on the road and figure out the things that make your life easier, more convenient, and more comfortable as you go. These things are different for everyone. What some drivers can’t live without, others won’t even think of. And then there are some universal items that every truck driver needs.
When you go from your training truck to your very first delivery job, there are a handful of things that are absolute must-haves. And then there are some things that you’ll enjoy having for your rig once you can pay for them, but they aren’t 100% vital.
According to the best truck driving schools, there are items that you’ll need immediately, and then there are some that can wait for a bit. These must-have-soon items are generally inexpensive necessities that can save you on the road and make your trip and work go much smoother.
It may sound old school, but a good atlas is still a trusted standby for truck drivers. In fact, 15% of OTR trucking professionals say that paper atlases are their primary source of navigation. While nearly all truck drivers use GPS technology these days, nothing can beat updated paper atlases for verifying bridge heights, tolls, route changes, and weigh station locations. Also, no matter how set for batteries you may be, there’s nothing like a guaranteed map that simply can’t die on you. Keep a paper atlas by your side.
Pocket Truck Stop Guide
An up-to-date pocket truck stop guide will become your new best friend. These little guys include every truck stop, travel center, and rest area for hundreds of miles. Each one also includes information about repair shops, scale info, and parking lot sizes, making it a must-have resource. Don’t find yourself without one.
Don’t be that person who just grabs a few toiletries at a gas station right before heading to a truck stop. Get yourself a shower bag and fill it with the things that you’ll be needing, just as you’d buy them if you were stocking your bathroom at home. Be sure to get everything you’ll need: razors, shaving cream, soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and a toothbrush, mouthwash, lotion, body/face wash, deodorant, Q-tips, blow dryer, brush, comb—everything! Pro OTR trucking tip: invest a few dollars into shower shoes and your own towels. You’ll be glad you did.
Notepads and Pens
It may sound small, but never step foot inside your truck to begin a job without making sure you have a working pen, paper, and even a clipboard. When it comes to OTR trucking, you’ll need to log your trips and time, as well as write reminders and notes to yourself. You will probably hear a lot of objection to physical paper these days, but again—nothing beats reminder that can be in front of your eyes at all times and won’t go away when a battery dies.
Bigger Items That Can Wait
Once you’ve gotten your “road legs” and have settled into a few deliveries, you’ll see how needed those few items are. Now it’s time to invest into a few more things that will make your OTR trucking life even easier.
Again, this may sound dated, but having a CB radio is strongly recommended. Why? Because, as it turns out, many shippers and receivers still actually prefer this mode of communication to contact you while you’re waiting to make your delivery. A CB radio (and it doesn’t have to be an expensive one) will provide easy contact with your shippers and receivers. CB radios are also still extremely useful for warnings ahead such as roadblocks, pileups, or black ice. There’s also no monthly bill to worry about with a CB.
When you’re stopping too much just because you’re thirsty and then paying about $3.00 per drink, it’s time to get a nice cooler. Even a top-of-the-line cooler will pay for itself within your first month of work, and you’ll have cold drinks available whenever you want. Even if you stock up on drinks without one, they won’t be cold. A good cooler will make you much happier.
Sirius Satellite Radio
Because reception is sometimes patchy in certain areas, many truck drivers swear by Sirius XM. Because of the satellites high in the sky, SiriusXM is pretty much always available. It is a luxury that requires a subscription, but if you’re spending a lot of time on the road, it’s well worth it to have music, sports, and talk shows at your fingertips for hours of entertainment.
Similar to a nice cooler, a crock pot will make your trucking life much better. Sandwiches and salads will get a bit old after awhile, and a crock pot is a great way to get a hot meal every once in awhile. Heat up canned food, or even cook meat and potatoes. There are entire crock pot cookbooks if you’re particularly adventurous.
As mentioned earlier, every OTR trucking professional is different and will have to discover what their on-the-road needs might be. Hopefully this list has given you some insight into what will definitely be needed, and what may be needed a little further down the line.