A new truck driver has a lot of things to learn that they don’t necessarily teach in trucking schools. Most of these things are what would make your life easier and more enjoyable on all hauls, short or long. Unfortunately, you are left to learn these things from experience.
But! Who says you have to learn from your own experience when you can learn from the experience of other truck drivers? Hence, we have these truck driver life hacks that experienced truck drivers have learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.
Here are 20 helpful trucker life hacks from the diaries of experienced truck drivers to the newbies.
1. Meal prep
This simple hack could help you save a lot on food costs. Reduce the number of times you eat out. Instead, have a portable stove in your truck and do meal prep. Not only does this save you a lot of money, but it also puts you in control of your meals. You also don’t have to worry about eating something that doesn’t suit your body when you eat out.
And if you ever run out of meal prep ideas, we created a list for you here.
2. Fill loading and unloading time
How you spend your time when your cargo is being loaded or unloaded may influence your next driving shift. If, for instance, you didn’t get a way to entertain yourself and keep your mind alert, you may end up driving drowsy.
One way to kill time while loading or unloading is by playing mobile games. Not those that require all of your concentration so that you lose track of what is happening around you and your truck. Instead, we recommend you resort to those games that help you relax more than they consume your brainpower.
3. Organize your dashboard
If the truck cab was an office, your dashboard would be your worktable. That’s why you should take care to arrange your dashboard in such a way that you can easily reach the items that are most important to you.
For many professional truck drivers, some items they have on their dashboard are phone holders and water bottles. It might be different for you, but the idea is to place the items you would use most often within arm’s reach.
4. Don’t use black interior
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not against making the interior of your cab look cool, because a black interior sure gives your cab that classy feel. However, we’re very much against cooking yourself up in the heat of summer.
Black surfaces absorb heat better than light-colored surfaces. So when you surround yourself with a black interior on a hot day, you would only be trapping more heat in the cab.
5. Use trucking apps
Trucking apps are there to make your life easier. Various apps have various important uses, and availing yourself of them can be the single thing that makes your trip much more enjoyable.
For instance, there are weather apps that keep you ahead of weather updates. Then there are navigation apps, fitness apps, and even those apps that will keep you entertained and keep your eyes open on those long and boring trips.
The slightly tricky part here is that there are thousands, maybe millions, of trucker apps out there. But not to worry, you’ll find our list of the best trucker apps you never want to travel without to be very useful.
You will never escape driving with the sun above and at it the peak of its heat. While the warmth from the sun around 10 AM to 11 AM can be comforting, the heat could quickly get sinister at noon and the hours after.
Apart from the discomfort, continuous exposure to the sun causes your skin to age faster. Wrinkles then encroach your face faster than you can keep them at bay.
But while driving when the sun is high and scorching may not be completely avoidable, protecting yourself with sunscreen is within your power.
7. Always have a spare key on you
Have you ever locked yourself out of your truck? It’s not a pleasant experience, especially when you have a schedule to keep to and the weather isn’t all that friendly. That’s why we recommend that you keep a spare key on you at all times.
8. Stretch from time to time
The truck driving lifestyle is a sedentary lifestyle. And for truck drivers who are always on a tight schedule, taking a break to stretch is a luxury. But this luxury may be what helps you preserve your life and your health.
After every few hours of driving, take a break to stretch your body. You may even practice some tight space exercises to keep your blood flowing properly and your organs in good working conditions.
9. Drive with a straight posture
Whether or not you have seat cushions, practice a straight seating posture at all times. And don’t stop there. Make sure you observe your sitting posture regularly. It is easy to sometimes slump into a wrong posture without your knowing. Some dangers of bad sitting posture include body pains and skeletal problems.
10. Don’t use seat cushions immediately
Seat cushions are there to make your seat more comfortable to sit in. But sitting in seat cushions for too long can sometimes be uncomfortable. So, here’s what to do.
Spend the first few hours driving without your seat cushions. If no one uses the truck seat immediately before you, the seat should keep you comfortable for a while. After these hours, use your seat cushion.
Doing this extends your comfort time and helps you go farther in a comfortable seat.
This is one of the oldest forms of keeping yourself entertained on the road, and it still remains one of the best today. Almost nothing beats driving to the tune of your favorite playlist or radio station. When it's getting awfully quiet or boring in your truck, don’t forget to resort to this agelong trick to save your trip.
To make things easier for you on your trip, create playlists before your trip for various moods.
12. Never let your snacks be far from your hand
Apart from listening to music, munching on a snack is another thing that can keep you awake when you’re bored. Snacks also help you keep hunger at bay until you can take a meal break.
However, it is easy to get it wrong with your snacks. Some truck drivers take this opportunity to overeat unhealthy snack. This is wrong. Instead, pack only healthy snacks before your trip, and know when to stop eating during your trip.
13. A bottle of water at all times
It is important that you stay hydrated at all times. Some truck drivers argue that drinking too much water forces them to take more bathroom breaks, thereby extending the length of their trips.
While this may be true, it is better that you take more bathroom breaks than have health issues from dehydration. Muscle cramps, mental fatigue, and heat stroke are only some of these health issues. In fact, a study by the Physiology & Behavior journal showed that you may as well be driving drunk if you’re driving dehydrated.
And there are also ways to stay hydrated without increasing bathroom trips.
14. Take breaks at sunsets and sunrises
Sunsets and sunrises are the best times to take breaks. If you’re an OTR truck driver, you’ll always have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise and sunset from various locations.
In addition to getting to admire the beauty of nature, taking a break during sunset helps you avoid the rush hour traffic as people return home after the day’s work. Breaks during sunrise keep you driving when the sun is directly ahead of you on the horizon, obstructing your view.
15. Try to Drive 55
As a truck driver, one thing that’ll always be on your mind is how you can keep to your delivery time while still saving fuel. The solution to these puzzle is 55.
Scientifically, driving your truck at 55 miles per hour is the perfect balance between speed and fuel efficiency. Any faster and you may be forced to make more trips to the gas station than you intend. Any slower and you may be driving too slowly.
16. Defensive driving
Defensive driving helps keep you and other drivers sharing the same road as you safe. When the evening comes, everyone wants to return home to their loved ones. Don’t be the reason someone doesn’t with your reckless driving.
17. Keep your truck clean
Although you look straight ahead while you're driving, your mind remains connected to your immediate environment. And whatever is happening around you has a way of affecting your psychology. That you’re the only one in the truck for most of the time doesn’t mean you should make it a dumpsite.
Keeping your cab clean and organized helps reduce clutter in your mind and improves focus. Taking care of yourself doesn’t stop at personal hygiene. How you manage the immediate space around you is also a huge part of taking care of yourself.
To help you with this, keep a waste bin close to you for when you need to toss some dirt away. You should also have a handheld vacuum cleaner to get things thoroughly clean.
18. Keep a seat belt cutter
A seat belt cutter may be what saves your life in an emergency. It’s good to have something to free yourself with so that you can get help, rather than being trapped by your seat belt.
19. Swap seats
This hack is best for solo truck drivers. Chances are that no one uses your passenger seat very often and your seat may become less comfortable with regular use. So, how do you get the comfort of the passenger seat underneath you on the driver’s side? Swap seats!
20. Plan for the journey, not just the destination
Whenever you have a delivery to do, remember that the most important thing is the journey and how you get to your destination, and not the destination itself.
Plan for the journey. Use trucker trip planners if you have to. Mark out places where you want to stop for meal and bathroom breaks. Prepare for emergencies by having these truck driver essentials with you at all times.
Ultimately, try to enjoy your trip and stay safe.
The truck driving lifestyle is unlike any other professional lifestyle, and it takes a lot of getting used to. But with these hacks passed down from the experienced, new truck drivers should find it easy to cope and ultimately enjoy their trucking lifestyle.