Driver Must-Haves for Long-Haul Trips
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American driver logs about 13,476 miles behind the wheel each year — enough to span the U.S. from coast to coast nearly five times.
But even the most taxing commute likely pales in comparison to the country’s experienced long-haul truckers, who can log more than 100,000 miles annually across U.S. roadways. With that many miles in the driver’s seat, truckers are experienced in making certain preparations to preserve their own mental health and physical safety on long-haul trips.
Newer drivers can take a few cues from the nation’s experts in long-distance travel by remembering these essentials before their next long-haul job:
1. Items for Improving Personal Comfort
Given that the majority of your journey will be spent inside the cab of your truck, maximizing comfort should be a top priority. Consider making room for the following items to improve the comfortability of your trip:
- A quality mattress. There’s a major difference between catching a few hours of sleep on the road and feeling truly rested. Be sure to pack a comfortable mattress or mattress topper in the sleeper berth to help you sleep more comfortably.
- An ergonomic seat cushion. Extended hours behind the wheel can produce chronic back and shoulder pain but can be mitigated by a well-designed seat cushion.
- Cozy bedding. Make room for the pillows, blankets, and sheets. They may initially seem frivolous, but they make a big difference in making your cab feel homey and relaxing during your resting hours.
- A cabin organizer. Often overlooked, a cabin organizer can help ensure your cab stays clean. Studies have shown that clutter can negatively affect your mental health, increasing stress and anxiety. Look for easy storage solutions to help you keep your space clean and your stress low.
- Noise-canceling headphones. These can be your best friend when it comes to getting a full night’s sleep. You can also use them during rest breaks to aid in meditation or to simply improve your focus on other activities.
- Wet wipes. Trust us on this one — wet wipes may be the most versatile item you can toss in your cab.
2. Safety and Navigation Tools
Road safety is a high priority for any driver on the road, but it’s especially important for those who will be traveling long distances across very remote and rural areas. There are a few must-have items every driver should pack to ensure their safety and compliance while on the road:
- GPS navigation system. Though more experienced drivers may feel confident operating without one, a reliable GPS unit or smartphone app can do more than just direct you to your final destination; it can also provide real-time traffic updates and re-route you around accidents before getting stuck on congested highways.
- Emergency kit. It’s always a good idea to have a basic emergency kit in your truck alongside basic first aid supplies — including a flashlight, fire extinguisher, water filtration system, spare chargers for your devices, rain gear and a set of basic tools.
- Reflective vest and cones. Emergencies and breakdowns are never convenient, but they can be particularly dangerous in areas without much shoulder on the side of the road or with limited visibility. Vests and cones will more easily alert other drivers of your presence.
- Dash camera. Dash cams are growing more popular among carriers seeking to protect themselves from insurance claims after an accident.
- Truck inspection checklist. A must-have for every driver. A printed checklist will ensure any routine vehicle inspection goes smoothly.
3. Healthy Lifestyle Accessories
It’s not easy to maintain your physical health on the road, especially when it’s so much more convenient to buy fast food and snacks while on the go. However, you can save a significant amount of money and greatly improve your health by packing a few healthy lifestyle accessories:
- A portable refrigerator. Not only will you have cool, refreshing drinks available no matter where you go, but you’ll also be able to store fresh fruits and vegetables and other perishable items long-term. A portable refrigerator will make it much easier to prepare food ahead of time (plus you can store any leftovers for later).
- A travel cooler. If you don’t want to invest in an entire refrigerator, a travel cooler is a worthwhile alternative. It will still keep your meals fresh, and can easily be plugged into your truck’s power outlet.
- Exercise equipment. Because you’ll spend so much of your time sitting, you should take every opportunity you can to be active and moving during downtime. There are a lot of options for travel-friendly workout equipment that won’t take up space, such as stretchy resistance bands, small weights, foam rollers and yoga mats.
Everything packed and ready to go? Be sure to give the FCL experts a call for more information on freight delivery, logistics and making the most of your journey as a long-haul trucker.
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