Truck Driving Lifestyle: A New Driver’s Guide to Adjusting to OTR Life
Today, I’m going to discuss many of those truck driving lifestyle adjustments and how you can make them a bit easier on both you and your family/significant other.
Tips for the New Driver
Obviously the driver will be most affected by this career switch, so here are a couple tips for you — the new truck driver — to keep in mind.
Discuss the switch. First and foremost, you and your spouse/significant other hopefully have discussed being away from home prior to you getting started at CDL training. If you haven’t done this, I recommend doing so immediately. This is not something you just spring on your wife.
Hand over the reins. If you are a Type A personality, you must allow your spouse to make decisions about home, family, finances, etc while you are gone. You are not there and it will only make both of your lives easier if you turn those responsibilities over to them.
Don’t be disruptive. You cannot come home and disrupt everyone in the house’s life for your two days every couple of weeks. While you are coming off the road, remember that they have to deal with their day-to-day lives without you in it most of the time. Don’t be offended if everyone doesn’t simply drop everything the minute you walk into the door until you leave. It’s very important to remember this, especially if you have teenage children.
Don’t dictate. Don’t come home and immediately try and take over everything that your spouse has been doing the whole time you’ve been gone. Remember, you will be leaving again in just a day or two and they will be on their own again.
Make the most of your time home. Don’t come home and just sit around all the time when your family is there. Try to do some things together when possible. This is almost a contradicting statement to point #3, but it’s a fine line you must learn to walk.
Take care of household chores. Take care of things around the house that need your attention. It’s your time off from your JOB, not your family.
Tips for the Spouse/Significant Other
While thedriver has the stressful on-the-go truck driving lifestyle, this career can be a bit frustrating to the spouses/significant others of the drivers as well. The truck driver’s OTR lifestyle affects you too, so here are a couple tips to help you get used to this career change…
Don’t dictate. Do not plan the driver’s every minute when they are home to do chores and such. Obviously some things will need to be taken care of, but this is their short time off.
Make time for the driver. Even though you don’t want to totally disrupt the household, you should take into consideration the short time that the driver will be home and whenever possible, cater to their needs. Remember, in one to two days they’ll be on the road again.
Handle any issues. When problems come up while the driver is gone, they should be handled as soon as possible. Try not to allow such things to build and simply be dumped on them when they walk in the door. Keep a list of the really important things and get them taken care of on the first day your spouse is home, that way you can enjoy the rest of the time you have together.
Be appreciative. Remember, you basically have a normal life at home — TV, hot meals, the ability to go to the movies, store, etc. Things that you take for granted daily are luxuries to your driver. Their normal day is get up and drive, get a quick bite to eat, drive some more, sit in a dock, drive some more, and sleep. This goes on every day. So try and cater to your driver’s needs when they are home.
Budgeting Tips for the OTR Driver
Money always seems like the root of all evil in many marriages or relationships. As an over the road driver, you will have expenses. You need to account for that. For the spouses/significant others at home, you need to understand that your driver will need money to survive as well — your eating options are not theirs.
Sit down together and make a determination as to how much money the driver is going to need based upon your current debt situation. Drivers – you need to remember that the bill collectors will not be calling you, so you also need to take into account any bills and payments at home.
From my own personal experience, I have found that if you can afford it, $200 per week is a good amount of money for the driver to live off of. There will be weeks when they will spend it all, but then there will also be weeks when there will be some left over. It all adds up in the end.
The $200 mentioned above may seem like a lot to those at home, but remember, this pays for meals, drinks, and anything else it takes to live on during the week. I have done this myself, and realistically it’s about the right amount to allow comfortable survival on the road. Can you live on a lot less? Of course, but your quality of life is already living in an 8×8 foot box 24 hours a day. How much do you want to take, really? You might as well be comfortable.
$200 is really enough to live on while still having a bit left over every week. That amount depends on how you live. I say this because as you start wanting to buy things to put in your truck like a TV, CB radio, satellite radio, etc, you need to save the money you have leftover every week. The reality is you can live on much less than $200, but it’s not something you want to do week-in and week-out. Do it occasionally to save the money for an upgrade in your truck.
The Reality of Truck Driving
There is no magic trick to make a smooth adjustment into the truck driving lifestyle. The reality is: some people deal with it, and others do not. Go into this realistically knowing that you’re going to be gone from home approximately 300 days per year, and you will be fine.
Most people don’t like being gone from family that much, but in life we have two lines of desire we make our decisions on:
There are wants. These are the things we would like to have. They’re not something we will die without, but they are nice to have.
Then there are needs. These are the important ones – they are the things we need to survive. Things we die without — food, water, shelter.
When you put your life into this perspective, you can easily take care of you and your family’s needs in this industry. You can take care of many wants as well.
As the primary provider for a family, whether you are a man or a woman, you make sacrifices for the ones you love. I would not pretend to tell anyone that this life is not challenging. But in today’s society and difficult times, it puts food on the table, a roof over our loved ones’ head, and shoes on their feet. Knowing this always makes it easier for me every time I put my foot on the bottom step of my truck.
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