Being a trucker or running a trucking company can be one of the most rewarding careers. There's the excitement of hitting the open road, seeing sights all across the country and helping to make just about every industry churn right along.
Before you even hit the road, though, there are many things you must do to prepare. Planning is essential to a successful carrier route, and there are many must-have items that truckers need to have before they hop behind the wheel.
Below is a list of some of the must-have items all truckers need to have.
All truckers have to be obtain specific licenses and permits before they're allowed to even hit the road legally. In addition to obtaining these licenses and permits, it's also essential that you carry a copy of them with you all times.
You may need to provide proof of these when you check in at weigh stations, if you're stopped by police while driving or if you're involved in an accident. The essential documents you must carry with you at all times include:
Your CDL license
Your vehicle's registration
Proof of auto insurance
Any pertinent state permits
Copies of your long-form physical
Any special certifications necessary, such as if you're transporting Hazmat or driving a triple trailer
Spending hours behind the wheel can get quite uncomfortable if you don't have the proper clothing. Depending on the time of year -- and where you're traveling from and to -- the weather could change quite rapidly.
That's why it's advisable to pack layers of comfortable clothing with you.
T-shirts, shorts, jogging pants, jeans and comfortable and supportive footwear are all essentials while on the road. A good pair of sunglasses or two is a good idea, too, to protect your eyes.
In addition, pack clothes that you can layer up in case it gets cold, including long-sleeve shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats and even gloves. Make sure to pack with you clothes that you will wear when you're not driving, too, as you'll likely have downtime and possibly overnights if you're on longer hauls.
Don't forget to also bring some safety apparel, based on the job you're doing. This could include heavy-duty work boots for loading and unloading, a hard hat, safety glasses, coveralls and a raincoat.
Personal hygiene products are a must-have for any trucker, whether you're on a long-haul or short-haul. The basics should include soap and shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste and a toothbrush.
You should also consider bathroom supplies such as an emergency container, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper -- in case nature calls and there's no rest stops or other places to stop in sight.
If you plan to stop to take a shower at a truck stop, another essential item are shower flip flops. This will help prevent the spread of foot diseases and the spread of bacteria and fungus -- all of which are common at a place where multiple people are taking a shower.
It might seem silly, but all of these foot ailments can sideline a trucker for a considerable amount of time -- or at the very least, make the trip very uncomfortable.
Food and Drink
It can be very easy to eat unhealthy when you're on the road, stopping at fast food drive-throughs or snacking on fatty foods. But, preparing beforehand and packing healthy snacks packed with protein, vitamins and minerals will actually make the trip much better and keep your energy levels high.
Make sure that what you pack doesn't have to be refrigerated. This could include canned soups, sandwiches and pre-made salads; fruit such as apples and bananas; meat jerky; crackers, bread and other baked goods; sunflower seeds and other nuts; and peanut butter.
There are times when you might find yourself in an emergency situation, and if you don't have the proper supplies with you, these situations can turn quite dangerous.
If you break down and need to pull to the side of the road, for instance, you need specific gear that will help you until you can get moving again. This includes weather gear that will protect you in case of a storm, reflective clothing, a good pair of boots, road cones and/or flares and chains for your tires in case you drive into ice or snow.
In your toolbox, you also want to make sure you have screwdrivers and wrenches, a tire pressure gauge, a flashlight with extra batteries, a pocket knife, a hammer, zip ties, pliers and brake cleaner. All of this could help you get out of a jam and fix relatively minor mechanical issues.
There are other miscellaneous needs that all truckers should have with them. These will help them navigate on the trip and contact someone for help should they need it.
Included in this list are a cell phone and a charger, maps or a trucker's atlas, GPS, and a list of important phone numbers. For any technology you're bringing with you, make sure it is fully charged before you leave, and make sure the chargers work in the truck you are driving.
It's also good to have non-technological backups, just in case your technology doesn't work. So, make sure your phone number list is written down on paper, and make sure you have old-school printed maps.
All truckers should also carry with them a fully-stocked emergency kit. A typical First Aid kit will help you in case you are injured on the job, or even if you simply get a normal cut on your hand.
If you don't have one, make sure to purchase one that's already fully stocked so you have everything you could need. If you already own one, you should double check the supplies every time before you take a new trip -- and re-stock the items you may have used on previous trips.