Time is miles, and miles are money, so lets not waste it on a lengthy intro!
Gear You Need:
– Road Atlas. Yes, a GPS is handy, but do not fully rely on it, or your phone. You will lose signal and your GPS will crash- that’s inevitable. Prepare for that, and your future you will be thankful.
– Service Gauge.
– GPS. I prefer Garmin- but this is totally up to you.
– High visibility safety vest. Yep. You totally look a big stupid caution cone, but a lot of places require one.
– Screw driver. Great for installing CBs, and tightening up rattlely things that should not rattle.
– Channel locks. Break your seals, tighten loose nuts and bolts (of any size), etc.
– Prybar. Protect yourself from lot lizards (just kidding- use it to bend mudflap brackets back, unstick your fifth wheel pin, unbend bent latches, etc)
– Hammer. Beat stuck pins out with, check tires, etc.
– Hard hat for you flat bedders.
Here’s the deal. You will not be changing clothes everyday. Jeans should last you 3-7 days. Shirts should last you 2-5 days. If you don’t like that, you’re probably going to have a difficult time with this.
– 3-5 pairs of jeans.
– 1 pair of sweatpants. You’ll probably wear these when you take your laundry into the truck stop. Therefore, they need to be clean, and without stains or holes. ALWAYS WEAR UNDERWEAR WITH THEM IF YOU WEAR THEM OUTSIDE OF THE TRUCK. In your sleeper is your home. The cab, driver’s lounges, and everywhere outside of the truck is not your home. Treat the general public with some respect.
– 10-15 shirts. 90% of those shirts should be short sleeved, the others can be long sleeved.
– 1 hoodie. If you’re going to be flatbed however, perhaps bring 2, because you’re going to get dirty with the tarps. No more, because they really waste space.
– 1 heavy coat. Carhartt, Bernie, etc. The brand doesn’t matter, just make sure it fits a little big so you can put your hoodie under it.
– 30 pairs of socks. I know it seems like a lot, but do not wear your socks multiple days. Your feet are really important, so take good care of them.
– 30 pairs of underwear. Change your underwear everyday. I shouldn’t have to say this, but everyone at the truck stop knows when you haven’t washed your underwear. It stinks. Change everyday, because it keeps you and your jeans smelling and feeling nice in between washes.
– 1 ball cap. Bad hair day? Ball cap to the rescue.
– 1 pair of sunglasses. When you’re westbound at 8:30pm, you’ll totally get why.
It’s really crucial that you understand what truck style you’re getting into so you can plan accordingly. For instance, we’re in a 2016 Peterbilt 579. It has a top bunk, two slide out tables, one closet, and one half closet with shelves. That full closet can fit plastic drawers, and that half closet with shelves can fit two shallow tote boxes. This is important, because it means all of our clothes can go into the shallow totes, and all of our socks and underwear go into those plastic drawers in the full closet. Keeping your stuff out of sight and out of mind, keeps your truck feeling bigger and cleaner. Items to help you do that are listed below.
– hard shell laundry basket (plastic) if you have a top bunk, or a cloth one if you don’t. Put your dirty clothes in here.
– 1 or 2 shallow totes. Keep your clean clothes in these. Yes, it is better than keeping clothes in a duffel, because you can actually see them and keep them folded nicely.
– Plastic drawers. You can keep your underwear, socks, and bras organized nicely in here.
– A wash bin. You can store your small tools, kitchen tools, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and plastic plates in here.
– 2 small baskets. Set both of them on the floor beside you. One is for your spare change, and one of them is to throw your extra condiments and napkins in.
Cooking Supplies and Appliances:
Everyone is different, but here’s what I believe you need. I personally don’t like microwaves or coffee makers. They’re bulky and redundant if you have an electric skillet. Also, ——– see this post—– you can get your coffee for free at truck stops.
– An electric skillet. It replaces your microwave and your toaster. You can make pastas, meats, soups, toast, and more in this. (This is the one I prefer and keep in the truck)
– A refrigerator. A lot of trucks come equipped with them, if not, shell out the $80 and get one for yourself because it is so worth it.
– One slow cooker. There’s a lot of days when you know you’re going to be tired when you stop. Get a slow cooker and you’ll have a big homemade meal, all ready to go. It doesn’t need your supervision throughout the day, which makes it so handy. I prefer this one because it’s a Mossy Oak Camo Crock Pot!
– A can opener, because you’re gonna be eating a lot of canned foods.
– One plate per person, unless you buy disposable.
– One bowl per person, unless you buy disposable.
– Two forks, two spoons, and one knife per person, unless you buy disposable. This is the exact set my husband and I use, because they’re metal and easy to clean.
– One plastic spatula, one wooden spoon, and one plastic ladle.
Now this is for your own consideration, everyone has different tastes. Keep in mind however, that you need foods that keep a while, and can be used in a variety of dishes. These are just basics, you can change it to suit you best.
– Pasta. Don’t bother buying one of every style, just get one type and make it work for a lot of different dishes.
– Canned tomato soup. You can have grilled cheese with tomato soup, you can make pasta and pour the tomato soup over it for homemade spaghetti-o’s, or you can make hamburgers and pour the soup over it.
– Hamburger meat. You can make hamburgers, tacos, chili, hamburger helper, etc.
– Cereal. For those days when you don’t feel like cooking
– Butter. Butter your toast, make butter noodles, to fry anything in the skillet, etc.
– Milk. You need it with most pastas, your cereal, and for breakfast.
– Sour cream. For chili, tacos, baked potatoes, and Macaroni & Cheese.
– Chili beans. For chili, burritos, and soups.
– Black beans. For chili, tacos and soups.
– A can of Rotel (diced tomatoes, onions and chilis).
– Potatoes. French fries, chips, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, etc..
– One Onion. For chili, burgers, tacos, and more.
– Velveeta cheese. To make macaroni and cheese, or queso.
– Roasts this roast comes as a kit so you only have to throw it in the crock pot I’ve used it dozens of times and I love it!
For Your Bunk:
– Source of Entertainment (television, laptop, phone, books, etc)
– Alarm. It can be an old fashioned alarm clock, or your phone.
– A bag of essentials. Body Soap, Shampoo, conditioner, face wash, razor. Truck stops provide you with towels, washrags, and some form of soap.
– Wet wipes / paper towels. To clean you and your dishes.
– A Plastic bottle that is not clear. Look- you’re not always going to be near a restroom, and sometimes it’s not appropriate to check the catwalk or cool the tires down (especially if you’re a lady!).
– One heavy quilt. Hopefully you’re never broke down and without heat in the winter, but if you are, you should have a big quilt to keep you warm.
For the Trainee’s
You are a guest in someone else’s very tiny home- do not clutter it up! Men, try to keep it down to just a shower bag and a clothes bag. Ladies, try to keep it down to a shower bag, a makeup bag, a clothes bag, and your smallest purse. Here is what you’re going to need.
– Wet wipes
– Clothes (see above clothes category) and in a cloth duffel, because that takes up less space, and chances are, you’ll be sleeping with it in the top bunk.
– Sleeping Bag. Sheets and comforters are nice, but when you’re training, you’ll probably be sleeping when your trainer is driving. You shouldn’t be in your top bunk when the truck is in motion, so do you really want to rip up his sheets so you can put yours down, or would you rather just throw your sleeping bag on top of his and nap?
– One pillow. Seriously, don’t be that high maintenance guy.
– Shower bag with the essentials. Bring lots of deodorant too, because you don’t know how often your trainer will stop/allow for showers.
– Cash. Assume right at $180 per week. You won’t have to pay for showers (your trainer will have rewards card that he can redeem showers on), but if you smoke, chew, or eat a lot, plan accordingly.
Advice for New Drivers:
– Get a rewards card. I tell you which truck stops have the best rewards here.
– Don’t drive fast in the parking lots– you could easily hit a pedestrian
– Never park on the fuel island- you will get your ass kicked
– Don’t take a whole lot of crap from a dispatcher, because there are plenty of companies who are looking to hire.
– If you have the choice of driving overnight or during the day, pick the night. Its easy to find parking spots during the day, and there’s less careless four wheelers at night to watch out for.
–Never, ever text and drive. You will have your CDL revoked immediately if you’re caught. Plus you could really hurt someone.
–Cook as much as you can. Seriously, being fit in a truck is so difficult, don’t hurt yourself by eating crap all day.
–Don’t worry about the other drivers judging you. They’re going to watch you back in, get out, walk around, drive off, etc. In five minutes they’ll have forgot all about you, so take your time and don’t stress about them.
–When in doubt, call dispatch and ask for help. That’s totally normal, and its a rookie mistake to NOT call them.
–Don’t end up on Twisted Truckers. That’s the best advice you’re gonna get all day.