Here are 19 essentials you’ve got to carry with you in the truck if you’re on the road in 2022.
On the outside, a truck driver’s life seems like a dream. You can travel for weeks, explore new landscapes, drive around, and try out a variety of foods at different restaurants along the way.
It looks great. And it is true.
Drivers do get a slice of the travel life.
But there are also a few downsides to this.
- You’re driving for the purpose of work, with loads to deliver within deadlines. And that may not be as much fun.
- You’re driving for nearly 10-11 hours a day, which impacts your physical health.
- You’re mostly by yourself, which may seem great initially, but gets boring pretty quickly.
Despite the drawbacks, truck drivers enjoy their work, given the pay and the benefits.
And if you’re one, you already know how awesome your job is.
Being on the road for that long, away from your loved ones and the comforts of the home, can be tough.
It’s always wise to be prepared for emergencies because you’re driving through remote locations, thousands of miles away from home, all by yourself.
In the worst-case scenario, you have to be prepared to help yourself and alert others about your situation.
We have put together a few truck driver essentials to help make your life easy and help you pack everything you will need,
Make your travel less stressful and be prepared should you be in an emergency.
Truck Driver Essentials
This list of truck driver essentials does not only include safety and emergency items, but also some self-care essentials to help you de-stress, relax, and maintain your personal hygiene.
So, let’s get to it.
1. Permits, licenses, and regulatory paperwork
This goes without saying.
It’s important to always carry paperwork relevant to your vehicle or truck.
Always carry your CD licenses, IRP trip permits, IFTA credentials and regulatory paperwork, and other DOT documents.
This will help you prevent any delays with the authorities when passing through different states and international borders.
Do not forget to include your load order paperwork in this.
This usually depends on the number of days or hours it takes for you to reach the destination. But regardless of the number of days, it’s always smart to carry an extra set of clean clothes (including inner wear). On the odd chance of a delay, spillage, or an emergency, you don’t have to continue to wear the same old clothes for days.
3. Shower flip-flops
This is a no-brainer. Always carry your shower flip-flops when you’re assigned a long trip. When you stop by a motel or when you stop at a travel center or truck stop for a quick shower, these will come in handy.
If you’re driving through the day, it can get uncomfortable as soon as the clock hits 11. The sunlight directly hits the windshield and the light will have an impact on your eyes. Your eyes will strain, and it will slowly transcend into an unexplained headache.
You cannot afford to take your eyes off the road even for a second. Your job requires your complete focus and attention. So, it’s important to shield your eyes (and vision) with a nice pair of shades to protect them from the light.
Truck drivers are exposed to sunlight almost every day. The sun eventually cracks through your skin and damages the cells. But that’s not the worst thing.
The ultraviolet radiation from the sun can even lead to skin cancer. And that’s something you shouldn’t ignore. Applying a small amount of sunscreen before you head out can actually save your skin from sun damage, and UV radiation, and help prevent skin cancer.
What’s even better is that SPF is known for its youth retention qualities. So, you’re actually getting younger as you apply sunscreen and drive all day.
Check out this post to see how drastically sun and UV light impacts a truck driver’s skin.
6. Phone charger
We all use smartphones. And even if you use an old-style cell phone, it will run out of battery at some point. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with just 1% battery life. Always carry your phone charger and pack an extra cable (just in case).
7. Phone holder
A portable phone holder that sticks to your windshield or your dashboard is a life-saver, especially when you’re navigating through tricky locations. It’s also a convenient, hands-free tool to attend calls while driving.
8. Personal hygiene supplies
When you want to stop by at a truck stop or a motel, it’s worth taking care of yourself, so you feel comfortable when you’re back on the road.
Pack these things in addition to other supplies as needed.
- Toothbrush + paste
- Shaving kit
- Safety trimming scissors
- Shampoo + conditioner
- Hand towels
- Body towels
Pack all these items in a vanity bag, so you can just carry this and a pair of clothes when you stop by somewhere for a shower and rest.
9. Fluorescent decals & gear
Fluorescent decals are adhesive and usually last a while. However, if you’re traveling through different weather conditions and temperatures, they may wear off. Carry extra decals and stick them to your vehicle, so other drivers can identify your truck (during the night). It’s a safety mandate, and you’ve got to have it.
Also carry heavy-duty jackets with fluorescent stickers, so when you stop to check your tires or something else on your truck, traffic drivers can see you. This is great for preventing accidents.
Be it for troubleshooting your vehicle during the dark hours or to signal someone to come find you, flashlights are a must. Just make sure that you carry extra batteries for your flashlight, so it actually does the job when you need it.
11. Tire pressure gauge
Check if the pressure in your tires is enough or deficit with a tire pressure gauge. It’s a must-have for all truck drivers, regardless of how far you’re going. Always conduct this check before you key your truck.
12. First-aid kit
Injuries can happen anytime, and it’s best to be prepared with a ready-to-use first-aid kit.
Here’s what you need to have in your first-aid kid.
- Pain killers
- An Epi-Pen (if you have a health condition that requires you to use one)
- Sterile cotton
- Surgical spirit
- Safety scissors
- Alcohol-based sanitizer
- Antibacterial cream
- Medication as prescribed by your doctor (carry the prescription with you).
13. SOS/Emergency kit
Emergency or SOS kits come in handy when you’re stranded somewhere or when you’re running short of supplies while on the road.
Usually, this is an additional kit to your original kit that can be used to prepare yourself for unprecedented situations.
You can create a personalized emergency kit, considering your trips and the weather conditions (to where you’re headed).
However, a generic, emergency kit includes the following.
- Battery/Power bank
- Extra batteries
- Non-perishable food/snacks
- Water bottle
- Extra charger for your phone/tablet
- Extra pair of socks
- Extra clothes & inner wear
- Safety flares
14. Road cones and flares
If you’re loading or unloading equipment or shipments from the truck, it’s important to put out traffic cones so that you create a buffer zone.
Emergency flares or safety flares help you find help when you’re stranded or when you’re in an emergency. The flare is typically an SOS signal and alerts anyone around to slow down and offer help.
15. Extra water and non-perishable foods
There are plenty of truck stops and travel centers around to help truck drivers like you find delicious food. However, sometimes, you can miss a truck stop or find no parking.
In such a case, non-perishable foods help suffice your hunger cravings.
While fresh food is a go-to choice, non-perishable stuff lasts longer, and you can eat it whenever you feel like taking a bite. Pack some cookies, chips, granola bars, instant ramen cups, and other foods as you see fit. Also carry cola, fruit juice, or other soft drinks you like to sip on.
However, don’t overeat or drink too much because bathrooms are harder to find on the highways.
16. Sleep kit
Doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping in your truck or at a motel or just pitching out a camp somewhere, it’s always important to carry a sleep kit that consists of a sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, and comforter.
If you’re allergic to certain fabrics usually found at motels, just stick to your kit to avoid further aggravating your allergies and infections.
Be it a hot afternoon during summer or a snowy night during winter, you will need gloves to protect your hands from the extreme temperature. The steering wheel will change temperatures when the elements are extreme, so be sure to pack your gloves. And pack layered socks to protect your feet during the cold winters.
You will also need heavy-duty gloves to troubleshoot your truck or fix something instantly before you can contact a truck service center.
18. Hard toe (waterproof) boots
When you step down to load or unload, you will need strong boots to support your activity. If it’s snowing or raining, you will need water-resistant boots to do your job without interruptions.
These types of boots last longer and support your body weight when you’re lifting heavy shipment boxes.
19. Music player/audiobooks
Driving for long hours can get boring very quickly.
Subscribe to a music streaming service or an audiobook service and start listening to some great music and stories. This can be very relaxing and entertaining.
While music is more stimulating and boosts your mood instantly, stories engage you and keep you hooked.
You can even listen to podcasts based on your interests and mood.
Doesn’t matter if the service is free or paid, as long as you’re having a good time.
BONUS Essential: If you’re an owner-operator truck driver, and manage everything by yourself, you must be worried about your IRS HVUT filings.
Every trucking company or owner is required to file a Form 2290 with the IRS to report specific vehicle information and pay the HVUT tax due.
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