Long haul trucking isn’t the easiest lifestyle. That doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable in your own cabin. Today’s big rigs contain some of the trappings of home, but can be made better with a few simple touches.
If you’re just starting out or tired of the same old routine, adding some accessories that are both practical and provide comfort can be a godsend.
Here’s everything you need, from the basics veterans swear by, to the new inventions meant to make your time on the road a bit more tolerable.
Clothing & Footwear
Appropriate clothing can go a long way to making your drives a bit more pleasant. First step, a sturdy pair of comfortable and insulated work boots.
These will give keep your feet warm, and, while you are not on your feet often, when you are, you’re usually loading and unloading. Make sure they feel good on the move.
A great pair of work gloves will do the same for your hands. Keep them warm while moving cargo and maintain a safe grip in all temperatures.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the simplest things. Sunglasses and a hat are absolutely essential for those daytime drives. Polarized shades will make sure glare is no longer an issue. Also, dressing for night time temperatures can save your life.
That means having a warm winter coat, thick socks, and layerable tops. It’s always better to prepare for the worst.
There’s no telling when mechanical failure or bad weather can leave you stranded. Always assume that you could be without power for an extended period and pack accordingly.
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Necessary Tools & Equipment
Every trucker should come equipped with an excellent tool kit, and don’t forget that trusty flashlight for making repairs at night. Inevitably you will encounter minor problems and need to make simple fixes to get back on the road.
Some of the most common issues with big rigs stem from the immense stress on the tires. A tire kit is an absolute must. That includes a hammer, thumper, plug kit, gauges, jack, and a trusty iron. Electrical systems are also known to be a bit finicky. Jumper cables, spare fuses, headlights, and light bulbs can come in handy as well.
Never underestimate the usefulness of good, old fashioned, duct tape and WD40 in a pinch. A reflective safety vest is a great idea for those dark electrical repairs. It could save your life.
Normally everything will be smooth sailing, or in this case driving, but it’s never a bad idea to be over prepared. Furthermore, what would a trucker be without the iconic CB radio. This keeps you in contact with other truckers and emergency services. The calming crackle of the CB will keep you safe and sane. Don’t hit the road without one. A first aid kit is also recommended for those constant scuffs and scrapes.
Now that you’ve locked in the essential elements for your safety and survival, you are ready to move on to making your journey better. A cabin that feels like home goes a long way to keeping you positive on those long hauls.
The most necessary item is the power converter that will allow you to run household appliances. The stereotype is that truckers run on a constant supply of fast food, truck stop slop, and gas station snacks. This no longer has to be the case.
With a power converter, your engine can provide juice for a mini-fridge, coffee pot, and microwave/toaster oven. You can have a small kitchen in your cabin and make the food you like to eat at home.
One great suggestion is a slow cooker. At the beginning of a drive, or before turning it on, you can fill it with fresh meat and vegetables, and in a few hours enjoy a nice home cooked meal. Save the leftovers for the next time you get a bit peckish.
When it’s time to hit the hay. Bring an electric blanket to make sure you’re warm enough on even the coldest of nights. A good grooming kit will keep you looking sharp between stops. Treat your truck like your home on the road.
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The Connected Cabin
Every trucker gets a little bored. There’s a lot of downtime when you’re not hauling. Luckily, technology is making it easier than ever to stay in the loop while on the move.
Everyone has a cell phone but service can be spotty on backroads and canyon passes. Furthermore, that data doesn’t come cheap. While you can use any smartphone as a GPS, many drivers swear by the satellite based, dash-mounted variety.
Imagine if your phone breaks, or gets stolen, it may be hard to go back to paper maps. Better to have a dedicated unit for peace of mind, as navigating can be one of the most difficult parts of the job.
You could also consider buying a mobile wifi hotspot. The rates and speeds are generally more reasonable than your cell phone plan. Also, you can connect a multitude of devices.
A good laptop can be as good as a TV. You can keep up to date with your favorite shows while on the road (not literally! Please don’t watch and drive!). If you want that true “at home” feeling, a small TV can help you relax and connect with your family. By connecting a game console (Playstation 4 or XBOX) you can play video games and chat with your kids, family, or friends across the country.
For the true entertainment junkies, satellite TV providers offer mobile dishes that will make it feel like you never left your living room (or make you never want to leave your cab). While they are not cheap, it is an investment in your own sanity. In the 21st century, there’s no reason to be disconnected, unless you want to be.
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The Trucker’s Life
Life on the road can be as comfortable as you want it to be. With a little planning and thoughtfulness you can take home with you.
Above all physical safety and mental health are essential elements of all successful drivers. So do what you need to do to stay right.
This is not a definitive list, but a few recommendations from experienced drivers. Your cabin is only limited by your investment (time and money), imagination, and space, so get creative. You’ll be in there a lot, so why not feel as peaceful as possible?
What trucker gear can’t you live without?