The Ultimate Truck Driver Packing List

Life on the road for a commercial truck driver can be demanding, so you want to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Before any long haul, you should prepare by loading your truck with all the essentials for your trip. The following truck driver packing list is a great place to start for new truckers setting out on their first solo route. Then, as you gain more experience, you can adjust it to better fit your preferences.

1. Important Papers and Documentation

It is crucial to have all your important papers and documentation on hand and well-organized in case you get stopped for a roadside Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection. An expanding file folder is a light and portable way to keep these items protected and in the same place.

If a DOT officer stops you, you should have your:

  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance 
  • State permits
  • DOT medical examiner’s certificate
  • Shipping papers
  • Vehicle inspection reports, if applicable 
  • Special endorsement certifications (tanker, hazmat, doubles/triples, etc.), if applicable

2. Personal Care Products

Showering at truck stops along your route is part of the life of a long-haul trucker. Although you may be able to purchase some of the items necessary for personal hygiene at gas stations, it is best to come prepared with your favorite brands from home.

Some personal care items you should bring along are:

  • Shower shoes
  • Two or three towels 
  • Basic hygiene items such as shampoo, body soap, and deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste 
  • A shower bag or caddy 

It is also crucial to bring along any medication you regularly take, along with a few extra doses, just in case. 

3. Food & Beverages

While you can certainly stop at fast food restaurants and gas stations for your meals, many truck drivers prefer to prepare meals ahead of time or cook on the road to beat the cravings. Having a cooler and portable cooking appliances in your cab is worth the investment when you spend a lot of time on the road.

In addition to homemade meals, some healthier snack options to bring along are:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Jerky
  • Granola or protein bars

You should also have a supply of non-perishable food and plenty of water available in case of an emergency, especially if you are driving during the winter.

4. Clothing

Before you head out on your route, make sure to pack enough clothing to last for the length of your trip, as well as a few extra options. 

This includes:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Sleepwear
  • Socks and underwear
  • Layering options
  • Hats
  • Boots and tennis shoes
  • Sunglasses

In addition to regular clothing, you should keep emergency gear on hand, such as gloves, waterproof boots, and a high-visibility jacket. 

5. Emergency and Maintenance Items

From winter blizzards to summer rainstorms, you never know what road conditions you will face on your journey. Keeping a well-stocked emergency and maintenance kit in your truck will ensure you can get yourself out of a less-than-ideal situation.

Here’s what to include in your emergency kit:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Space blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Road cones and flares
  • Basic tools like wrenches, a hammer, and a screwdriver
  • An up-to-date road atlas
  • Pocket knife 
  • Tire pressure gauge 

5. Other Truck Driver Essentials

In addition to the list above, here are a few more items to add to your packing list:

  • Entertainment items (laptop or tablet, books or an e-reader, headphones)
  • Cleaning products (disinfectant wipes, air fresheners, portable vacuum)
  • Chargers for all of your electronic devices
  • Bedding, a pillow, and extra blankets
  • Cash and checks 

Earn Your CDL Today

The life of a truck driver is adventurous and exciting. If you are interested in earning your CDL, Yuma Truck Driving School can educate you and put you on the path to a rewarding career in trucking.

Contact us today to learn more about our available training programs.

A Day In The Life Of An OTR Trucker

Over-the-road (OTR) truckers deliver freight across the nation. These drivers have the opportunity to see the country from behind the wheel of their semi-trucks and provide an essential contribution that keeps our economy moving forward. The life of a truck driver is very different from someone working a typical 9-to-5 office job, and it’s as much a lifestyle as it is a career. If you’re interested in becoming a trucker, it’s helpful to understand what day-to-day life on the road looks like.

Starting The Day

Exactly when a trucker wakes up to start the day depends on many factors. Some types of freight require more frequent night driving. Team drivers also typically have one individual driving at night while another drives during the day. Many solo OTR drivers are able to choose their own schedule and can choose to wake up and get going whenever they prefer. In general, waking up earlier helps drivers beat traffic and find parking, but this isn’t necessarily the case for every driver.

No matter what time a driver starts their day, they’ll need to perform a pre-trip inspection of their vehicle to ensure it is safe to operate. They may have additional tasks to complete in the morning and outside of any specific requirements for their freight, they can tailor their morning routine to their preferences.

Driving And Breaks

Truck drivers spend the bulk of their time behind the wheel, and most of this is on highways. Drivers have to be able to stay focused and drive safely in a variety of conditions. Each day is a bit different for long-haul truckers depending on the route they are driving that day, the time of year, weather conditions, and other factors.

The trucking industry has safety requirements drivers must follow, including limits on how long they can drive before taking a break. This includes a 30-minute break during the driving window, as well as a long break once the limit for daily driving time is reached. Beyond these required breaks and necessary fuel stops, individual truckers can determine how often they’d like to stop and where in order to meet their delivery deadline and maximize their mileage.

Pick-Ups And Deliveries

Not every day on the road involves a pick-up or delivery, but when this does occur, a driver will need to follow directions for that particular customer. Some loads are drop-and-hook, meaning the driver simply drops off a loaded trailer and picks up a new one. Live loads, on the other hand, require a driver to wait while loading dock staff unload the trailer.

Ending The Day

By the end of the day, an OTR trucker is in a new location entirely from where they started. Once they’re ready to shut down for the day, they’ll need to find a place to park. Truck stops are the most popular, and typically the safest, destinations for this. They also have amenities truckers can take advantage of like showers, lounges, and even gyms in some locations. Many truck stops also have restaurants, although bringing pre-prepared food on the road is often a healthier option.

Getting high-quality sleep as a trucker can sometimes be challenging, but drivers have many methods to make this easier. They may customize their sleeper berth, use methods to block out light and sound, or add comforts from home. Having a regular routine also helps.

Interested In A Trucking Career?

If you’re interested in becoming a truck driver, Yuma Truck Driving School can help you get started in as little as four weeks. We also offer job placement assistance so you can start earning as soon as possible.

To learn more about our CDL training in Yuma, contact us today.