Life On the Road
There’s nothing but you and the road. Although it sounds romantic, like it came straight out of a Jack Kerouac novel, life on the road is a vocation. The ‘trucker lifestyle’ offers many challenges, but if you can handle these seven things below, following this career path could be one of the best decisions you make.
This is the toughest part of a driver’s life. The days are long and you’re miles from home with nothing but your own thoughts for company. But, why should this be a bad thing? You could use your hours alone to develop new interests; try sampling new genres of music, listen to an audio book or maybe learn a new language with some language tapes. While this can be an adventure if you’re single with no children, for someone with a family it can be a challenge to be away for so long, for you and for them. There are sacrifices to be made in this lifestyle and it’s up to you to really consider what your priorities are.
No day is the same. You could be in different cities, different states or even different countries all in the same day and speak to hundreds of people you’ve never met before. For anyone who has an adventurous personality, truck driving holds countless opportunities. With some dramatic culture and climate changes, there are still many difficulties with this lifestyle, but it offers memories that you couldn’t gain anywhere else. You could be watching the sun rising over mountains one day and discovering famous landmarks the next. The beauty is that you can’t predict what you’ll find.
The schedule is the most important part of truck driving. There are people waiting on the delivery of whatever cargo you’re carrying and they won’t be happy if it’s late. Traffic, weather and terrain suddenly all become critical factors and it’s a challenge to choose the best routes to your destination, but a challenge that drivers relish. With a multitude of rules and regulations governing drivers (the minimum number of hours of sleep and the maximum number of hours on the road) as well as most sleeping berths providing trucks with time slots, sticking the schedule is crucial. Truck drivers are also paid by the mile, so if you’re not moving, you’re not earning.
Imagine how frustrating driving a car in rush hour traffic can be, or how nerve racking bad drivers are, and then imagine your car is nearly three times longer and much slower to break and accelerate. That’s a lot of stress right there, but it’s a real show of skill for the drivers who maneuver their vehicles through this traffic. Maintaining your calm and keeping a clear head when other vehicles pass too close or cut in front is tough, but those who can are the best in the business.
There are ways to avoid bad terrain, alternative routes to accidents and road works where you can be notified well in advance, but the weather can be completely unpredictable. Especially when moving between countries, truckers can go from blistering heat to biting cold within 24 hours. Torrential rain, thunderstorms, high winds, ice, snow and hail are just some of the forecasts truckers have to deal with. With careful driving and good concentration, there’s no problem.
The ‘trucker lifestyle’ is notoriously unhealthy; sedentary boredom leads to eating, and it’s more than tempting to stock up on the comforts of crisps, biscuits and chocolate at truck stops and service stations. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Exercise can be brought along with you in the form of collapsible bicycles, running shoes or portable weights. The junk food can also be traded in, with a little bit of willpower, for a variety of fruit and raw vegetables, raw nuts, whole grain crackers, hummus and yoghurt.
7. CB Radio:
You’ll get a manual on how to operate the box itself, but no one will guide you through how to actually speak on it. A lot of drivers will admit they feel incredibly nervous when they first use it, and those veterans of the industry will recognize a novice instantly. There are phrases and slang you learn only with time, but it’s a valuable tool for knowing what’s happening on the road. It just takes practice.