When most people thinking about the trucking industry the first thing that comes to their mind is a tractor trailer outfit piloted by a guy in cowboy hat blazing down the highway. The reality is though that the trucking industry is a huge, multifaceted environment with plenty of career opportunities from drivers who man a day-cab and are at home every night to the fleet manager overseeing thousands of trucks all across the United States. You might ask yourself: How do I get started in the trucking industry? The answer is: There are tons of ways to get started and the heavy duty truck industry is a great way to launch a lifelong career. Most people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and just assumes food magically appears at the grocery store. In this article, we will outline some of the different positions available in the industry, their median salaries, and how to go about starting your career.
Driver- The backbone of the industry and the people that get behind the wheel everyday to actually deliver the goods we all enjoy. Once a person has obtained their CDL (Commercial Drivers License) they can begin driving for a large carrier and earning a living. Most people entering the industry start as a driver. It is a great way to learn the ins and outs of shipping products, scheduling pickups, navigating the nation’s highways and dealing with customers at pickups and deliveries. Many companies offer benefits for safe driving records and reliable performance. The upside is lower than owning a truck but many people have long, happy carriers driving for major carriers.
Owner/Operator – This is anyone who owns a truck, or multiple trucks, that still manages to get behind the wheel and make their own living. Much of your time as an owner operator will be spent keeping your customers happy and keeping a good group of drivers to man your vehicles. It is probably a good idea to get some experience under your belt before undertaking the purchase of a truck. To turn a profit you have to be a great driver as well as a great business person and many of the skills needed aren’t readily learned and available. According to the OOIDA the median gross income for owner-operators was $160,000 and the median expenses were $119,500 with a median net income then of $50,000. Without proper management of expenses it can be very difficult to keep your head above water. A strong business acumen and a good amount of driving experience is recommended before taking the plunge into ownership.
Dispatcher – Dispatchers traditionally work in an office environment either attached to a terminal or in a cubicle setup. The job is fast paced and you must be alert, detail oriented and good with people over the phone. The position is widely considered a foot-in-the-door position for management in commercial trucking companies. A high school degree is generally required. You’ll be scheduling pick-ups and deliveries for customers and have to make sure your drivers are taking the best routes, getting to their destinations on time and following the rules. If you don’t want to get behind the wheel this can be a great way to still be a part of the trucking industry.
Fleet Manager -This person is in charge of a large number of trucks and is a very valuable and difficult position within a trucking company. They must make sure their fleet is up to date with emissions regulations, their drivers are staying safe and performing optimally, and making sure the trucks stay in working condition. Fleet managers can also be responsible for the purchase of new trucks so they must be up to date on the trends of the industry and the needs of their company. Generally, a college or technical degree in logistics or diesel maintenance is required for these positions but experience plays a big part too.
Parts, Accessories and Service – If you own a truck, or even just drive one, you will need to repair it, upgrade it and make it look nice. In a service center you will have diesel mechanics turning the wrenches, countermen to help you find the right part and look up your vehicle’s specs, salesmen to help you through the ordering process or to set up future repairs or part purchases and customer service reps to help you post-order. If you are handy with a wrench or just enjoy being in the shop surrounded in awesome heavy machinery one of these positions might be right for you.
Our company focuses more heavily on the accessories and customization side of this category. We have people from all over the world call in that want to dress up their truck. We are constantly hiring so make sure to check out our careers section here to learn more about opportunities at Raney’s. Our positions are more focused on chrome and making trucks look good but we love people with any experience in the trucking world. Working for Raney’s will give you opportunities to travel to some of the coolest truck shows, participate in company wide outings and interact with a great group of people on a daily basis.
Raney’s, as part of an ongoing effort to make things simpler and more fun for all things chrome, has launched their new buying guide section on RaneysTruckParts.com. Choosing the right parts can be really difficult sometimes, especially if you are buying a gift for someone else or don’t know your way around a tool set. The buying guide has step by step images and diagrams to help you better understand the truck you drive as well as the parts you put on it. There are also installation videos for many of the products so you can see the best chrome parts being installed on all types of trucks. We’ll go over the sections and what to expect from them below, there will be plenty more added in the coming weeks so make sure to bookmark and favorite the page if it was helpful to you. Click the blue links below to go to any of the sections in the buying guide:
In the “Top Stacks” guide you’ll see all of the different exhaust brands offered at Raney’s as well as the different styles and cuts available. There are economy options to get you back on the road quickly as well as show grade options to keep your truck at the cutting edge of exhaust technology and in truck show winner’s circles.
The “Hood Ornaments” section goes through the history behind some of the most famous hood ornaments from the Mack Bulldog to the Convoy Deathproof Duck. There are also videos showing how the ornaments look and shine in real life as well as explanations on how to install them without any hassles.
The “Axle Cover & Hub Cap” section goes through how to size your hubcaps using some simple steps as well as how to install new covers. Keeping your axles looking good is a great way to fix up an old truck in no time and with the guides it’s a snap.
One of the most common questions we get over the phones is “How do you I know what size lug nuts you have?” In the “Lug Nut Cover Guide” this question is answered and more about installing and picking your lug nut covers.
Last, but not least, is the “Gear Shift Knobs” guide. Your hand is on the shifter all the time so make sure your pick the right one. There are guides on selecting the right configuration for your gearbox and pictures and videos of the different designs.
As always, if you still have a question about any of our products please call our toll free number and one of our parts specialists will be happy to help you. We understand your time is very valuable so we will constantly work to make sure you get the right product for your rig every time. Please leave any comments or questions in the comments below! Click the image below to go to the main buying guide hub.
Four senior member’s of the Raney’s Crew attended the fourth annual Marion Country Firefighter’s Benevolence Fund charity golf tournament on Saturday the 10th of May. The event was hosted at The Country Club at Silver Springs Shores with food, drinks and door prizes provided to all members of the tournament. There was also a long drive competition and hole-in-one challenge in addition to the round of golf played. The leaders were announced at the end of the round and raffle prizes were also given away. The proceeds from the event went towards the MCFBF which helps local firefighters in need of financial assistance for medical complications and other unforeseen hardships. For more information on upcoming events that benefit the MCFBF please visit their Facebook Page.
Though the Raney’s team didn’t play their best round of golf, they did have a great time helping a good cause. Below are some pictures taken during the round of golf.
Eric Anderson surveying the next hole.
The most important club in this foursome: the driver.
The team posing for a picture at Raney’s sponsored hole. Eric Anderson, Taylor Yates and Juan Rodriguez from left to right.
The camera man, Jacob Chak (left), forgetting how to smile.
Eric Anderson hitting a drive on the 16th hole.
The Raney’s team getting ready to hit the course for the day.
Jacob Chak doing his best impression of a person who knows how to play golf.
Truck shows are a great way for drivers to travel the country and meet other people who share a passion for big rigs. Shows always bring out the best and baddest trucks on the road and have all types of events and giveaways to make it fun for the whole family. You don’t even have to drive to have a good time: Shows such as the Wheel Jam truck show in South Dakota and The Big Iron Classic in Minnesota have truck pulls, drag races and live music to keep even the most casual truck enthusiast entertained for the whole weekend. Truck shows are also great for small trucking companies looking for drivers and owner/operators looking for work. There aren’t many other places where just about everyone you talk to has a big rig to their name.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular shows happening this year and hope everyone marks their calendars. That being said, there are plenty more shows all across the nation so make sure to check with your buddies, coworkers and organizations for other shows near you. Here is a brief summary of the events going on at these shows and what you need to know to get registered:
Wheel Jam Truck Show:
Friday June 6th to Sunday June 8th
Huron, South Dakota
Registration Information: http://www.wheeljamtruckshow.com/registration_6.html
This show will feature hot rods, a chili cook-off and over 150 registered show trucks of all makes and models. There will also be lots of prizes and giveaways as well as a truck pull and drag race. The show lasts the whole weekend so make sure to use the event list on the website to plan accordingly. South Dakota is beautiful this time of the year so make sure to come out, we’ll be there!
Texas Trucking Show
Thursday, July 24th – Saturday July 26th
Registration Information: http://texastruckingshow.com/
This show will be more business oriented and serve as a great resource for anyone doing business in Texas. There will still be great looking trucks everywhere and plenty to do in this three day event. Texas is a hotspot for trucking and this show could be a great way to get your foot in the door in the area.
Great American Truck Show
Thursday August 21st – Saturday August 23rd
Registration Information: http://www.gatsonline.com/events/how-attend/
The biggest truck show in Texas and one of the biggest of the year. This final show on the Pride and Polish truck show circuit has tons of great looking trucks as well as lots of chrome and accessories to browse through in the booths. PACCAR, Navistar and Freightliner always have some big reveals and surprises in store for attendees. Plus, the show is free if you register beforehand. We’ll be there this year so make sure to look out for our booth.
The Big Iron Classic
Friday September 5th – Saturday September 6th
Registration Information: http://www.bigironclassic.com/truck.php
The biggest “Working Class” truck show, the Big Iron Classic is a great show to kick back, relax and have a good time. There are over 600 trucks and over 15,000 people with tons of fun events such as a 60,000lb sled pull. Also, all of the show’s profits go to charity so everything is for a good cause. You don’t want to miss this!
75th Annual Peterbilt Show
San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton California
Registration Information: http://www.75thanniversary.org/#!registration/c158d
This is a one day festival for all things Peterbilt. There will be a show, giveaways and over 400 trucks on display. They will be raffling off a 1976 Peterbilt extended hood as well. If you love your Peterbilt you don’t want to miss this show.
If you see a show you think should be on this list, or want any more information about these shows please comment below, send us an email at email@example.com or message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The Mid America Truck Show is the largest trucking show in the United States held every year in Louisville, Kentucky. All of the biggest players in the trucking industry roll out the latest and greatest trucks, equipment accessories. From the truck manufacturers like Navistar, PACCAR and Daimler to equipment and engine manufacturers like Cummins, Detroit and Meritor there is always something fresh to see. All of the daily events are capped off with giveaways, seminars and a concert series headlined by Gretchen Wilson. You don’t only have to be a trucker to enjoy a trip to the Mid America Truck Show.
But that isn’t even the best part! We here at Raney’s are interested in the chrome- and there was no shortage of that. The 25th annual PKY Truck Beauty Contest was held at this year’s show and it didn’t disappoint. It featured the absolute pinnacle of truck design and accessorizing. All of the most famous show trucks were on display to the attendees and many of the drivers and designers did Q&As all day long. We were excited to find one of our customers at the show displaying his chrome. Here is his Volvo:
Wednesday and Thursday night had a truck light contest in the parking lot and we were able to check that out too. Make sure to check back on our Facebook for more images of the show.
Our booth was is in the North Hall, booth 14060. We’ve been fortunate enough to get the same spot the past few years and absolutely love seeing familiar faces each and every time we exhibit. We had all kinds of steering wheels, hood ornaments, lights and to show off as well as some contests and giveaways. Here are some of the highlight of the weekend’s events.
The Raney’s Team hard at work in a busy booth.
We’d also like to thank all of the vendors who made it to our booth or helped us exhibit their products. We had a very successful contest to give away a train horn, compliments of United Pacific, and the winner will be announced shortly. Together, with our customers and vendors, this was another very special year at MATS .
With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the debate surrounding healthcare has exploded into the forefront of everyone’s mind. Questions such as “Will I lose my insurance?” and “How can this help or hurt my bottom line?” are frequently asked. For most, the changes from ACA will not affect your current situation but is never a bad idea to be prepared for changes to your policy or rates. The open enrollment on HealthCare.gov ends March 31st for 2014 and opens again in November for 2015. This is the period of time in which you can enroll in Qualified Health Plan service offered by the Affordable Care Act. More information can be found here.
So what does this mean for truckers?
Well, not a whole lot more than any other folks. Many trucking companies provide a healthcare plan already, and those that don’t, will be forced to cover their employees under the ACA if they are over 50 employees. Gordon Truck posted on their website that:
“As an employee, you may not be eligible for this tax-subsidized coverage because Gordon Trucking’s benefit plans exceed all of the requirements of the law for eligibility, comprehensive coverage, and cost of participation. While this does not mean that you or a family member could not buy insurance from an exchange, it does mean that you are unlikely to receive a subsidy because of your eligibility for our plan.”
Also, find out if your company has a wellness plan. Many large companies incentive their employees to lose weight or lower blood pressure by offering bonuses and perks. Sometimes they will offer free exercise classes and gym memberships to employees interested in improving their well-being.
If you are an owner operator, the state determined healthcare exchanges are where you will go to see if you qualify for a subsidized healthcare plan based on income, the state you live in, family size and disabilities. Some states have their own exchange independent of the one provided by the federal government. As an owner operator you best plan of action is to compare as many rates as you can and work on improving your health to avoid future expenses resulting from poor health such as: reduced work hours, medical bills and increased insurance rates. A good place to start is with being familiar with what it takes to keep in line with FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) standards for driver health. You must pass your medical screening to continue driving so knowing these health benchmarks is crucial to staying on the road. For help finding a certified medical examiner click here. The criterion for the exam are as follows:
- Vision – to check for visual impairments that would affect your ability to drive competently.
- Hearing – like vision, it is checked to make sure you can hear what you need to in order to operate your truck properly.
- Blood Pressure – high blood pressure can put you at a risk for heart-attack and stroke which could gravely endanger other drivers and yourself on the road.
- Cardiovascular – to check for circulation and extremity health.
- Respiratory – are you able to oxygenate your lungs appropriately. If not, you would be at risk for passing out at the wheel or becoming dizzy and fatigued.
- Neurological – to check for your ability to comprehend your surroundings and make decisions while driving.
- Musculoskeletal – if you have any physical impairments that make it difficult for you to operate a truck safely.
- Diabetes – unregulated diabetes can be lethal and affects almost every category mentioned. If you have diabetes make sure you are taking steps to regulate it.
- Psychological – can you handle the mental stresses of driving and will your mental condition put other drivers at risk.
- Drug Test – to test for illegal substances or medicines that could affect your driving ability.
In addition to mandatory testing, you should be visiting the doctor regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A great website for tips on living a healthy lifestyle is The Healthy Trucker. They have tips on exercise, eating healthy and budgeting for any over the road driver. All of these factors should be a part of your health regiment because staying healthy is the best way to save on medical costs. Most insurance policies will give allow for a copay or even free checkups so make sure to take advantage of those as well.
- Know your companies health insurance policies and wellness programs.
- For independent truckers: make sure you see if you qualify for a subsidized plan through the ACA open enrollment.
- Make sure you know the health requirements for the mandatory FMCSA medical screenings.
- Create a healthcare plan for yourself to stay healthy and on the road.
If someone showed you a better route to take, saving you time and money, would you take that route?
Electronic Applications, or “Apps” for short, are pieces of software on mobile devices that serve to make your life easier. They act as shortcuts that help you complete tasks faster which translates to more money in your pocket and time to focus on the important stuff. Many apps are free or very inexpensive and most don’t require too much time to learn how to use them. In this article we’ll go over some of the best ones for truckers to have and how to best use them. If you aren’t using apps with your phone or tablet you are missing out on tons of great money and time-saving opportunities.
Gas Buddy – This a simple, easy to use app that can start saving you money immediately. All you need to do is download it to your phone, follow the account creation steps, punch in your zip code and find where the cheapest gas is in your area. It lets you sort by gas type so you can use this while you are on a long haul looking for the best diesel price or in your pickup on a camping trip. The app is kept up to date by users stopping at gas stations and plugging in the prices they see. You can earn points and discounts by contributing to the app so make sure to take advantage of this feature.
Truck Stops and Services – This is another free app that helps you find just what you are looking for while on the road. It shows nearby convenience stores, truck stops, weight stations, parts stores, mechanics and of course, the occasional chrome shop. To install it, download the app to your phone and follow the instructions on this page.
Trapster - This app is a great way to avoid speed traps, red light cameras and unnecessary tolls. Sometimes driving an extra mile before getting on a toll road can save you a few bucks! Users report locations where they’ve seen police hanging out and add them to the map. You’ll get custom audio alerts every time you are driving through an area with reported speed traps or red light cameras. Don’t use this as an excuse to drive like a lunatic though. Safety first.
Trucker Jobs App – Finding a job has never been easier. This app is a great way to find a company hiring in your area. Sometimes it’s time for a change or at least a comparison of benefits and pay.
Apps for Finding Hotshot Pickups and Partials – This is a bit trickier, and we know it is becoming more and more popular for owner/operators to look online to keep the wheels turning. One option is GetLoaded.com’s mobile app. This does require a subscription to their service to access. Another option is the Internet Truck Stop’s mobile app. You can download that here. This also requires a user ID on their website. Both of these options are a great and easy way to see available loads in your area and to post your truck for service.
These are just some of the great apps available to truckers. There are also plenty of great apps to help improve your daily life outside of your big rig. One example is Evernote, a note taking and messaging app for the scatterbrained individual. You can quickly take both audio and typed notes and have them synced to your desktop at home so they are never lost. This is a great way to stay on top of things. Another great lifestyle app is the MyFitnessPal app which is a calorie and exercise tracker. This can help you stay on top of personal health and how much you are (or aren’t) exercising.
If you can think it, there is probably an app for it so never stop searching for ways to make your life easier. The apps featured in this article are available for both Apple and Android devices but always make sure your device is compatible with app you are downloading.
It is safe to say that most truck drivers, at least ones who love being a trucker, aspire to own their own truck, or even a fleet of trucks. It isn’t an easy undertaking though: There are lots of things to consider, questions to ask yourself and your family and research to do. We’ve outlined a basic model for any driver thinking of taking the leap.
Step 1: The Questions to Ask Yourself
Making the jump from just a driver to an owner will greatly change your lifestyle, even though you are still in the same industry. The responsibility shifts from you following someone else’s rules and schedule to having to set your own schedule and deadlines. Here are some major lifestyle questions you are going to want to ask yourself:
- When and how do you like driving? – Are you the type of guy that will stack as many hours on top of each other so you can maximize work time, or do you like to be home every night for dinner? If weekends are sacred or you don’t want to run overnight it might be tough as an owner-operator. Regardless of when your trucks are on the road, running a business is 24/7. Expect phone calls in the middle of the night and problems to happen when you least expect them.
- Is my family ready for this? – You and your family are going to have to make sacrifices, at least initially, if you choose to be an owner operator. Unless you have a strong background in independent trucking, or a business mentor, there is going to be lots of trial and error. This might mean weeks where cash is very tight or you have to pull money from a spouse or other loved ones. If your family is not prepared for this, it could cause problems.
- Health and Health Insurance – Are you currently relying on your current company’s health care policy for support? Have you factored in the costs of providing health care for you, your family, and your potential employees? This is a huge expense in any household or business and, unfortunately, is often overlooked. If you don’t have your health in check the wheels certainly won’t be turning for very long.
- Do I want to lease my services to a company or work for myself? This is one of the most important questions you’ll have to ask yourself. The difference being: Leasing onto a company is more dependable but you have to play by their rules. Being independent has a higher risk but allows you to do more on your own terms and gives you more freedom to craft your work time to suite your wants and needs. Many truckers are deathly loyal to one or the other of these camps so we would suggest talking to a range of people that do both before making a final decision.
Step 2: Get Your Finances in Line, Things Might Get Expensive
As a fledgling business owner, your finances will be your worst enemy and best friend. If you are constantly digging for lost receipts, invoices and bills you won’t have time to focus on the important things like growing your clientele and providing great service. All business share the same structure for finances so there are plenty of guides on how to properly manage them. Where you’ll truly be successful is using all the extra time you gain from having organized budgets and finances to innovate and improve how you handle your customers and employees.
Here is a checklist of major financial considerations:
- Debts and Credit – It will be hard to pay for things in cash initially so managing debt and credit will be crucial to your long term goals. This also means not wracking up frivolous charges on a whole bunch of different credit cards. Consolidate business expenses to one account and keep better track of debts. The better you manage your debt the more you’ll be able to invest later down the line. If you want to expand in the future, build a strong credit rating and get the trust of investors.
- Insurance – Know what you are paying and if there could be potential increases in the future. Here in the United States, the insurance system is undergoing a large overhaul so there could be potential problems as well as opportunities to be aware of.
- Personal Budget – Know what you are spending day in and day out. Things like: food, toiletries, cigarettes, cell phone and internet plans all factor into this bottom line. All of the small things can add up quickly so keep your receipts in an organized manner.
Step 3: The Boring (but very important) Legal Part
Because we live in a union of different states your legal obligations will vary depending on which state you live in. It would be wise to seek the council of a business lawyer before making any investments into starting your own business simply because what you are familiar with might be different than what you actually have to do. For example: you might drive in Texas for a company based in Florida. You see one thing day in and day out while the finances and legal obligations back at corporate see another.
Step 4: Start Daydreaming of What You Want to Drive
Yes you should be practical in how you pick the right truck:
- How many miles does it have?
- Is it still under warranty?
- How do other people rate the truck?
At the end of the day though you have to choose something you’ll be happy driving day in and day out and this is one of the greatest feelings of becoming an owner. You get total control of what you’re driving. Some guys prefer the flashiness of a Peterbilt while others want the super modern feel of the Volvo trucks. You should also consider if you plan on exclusively driving it or if someone else will be driving it at some point. Owning a truck is a big undertaking, but it could easily be the best decision you ever make.
Buying gifts for truck drivers has never been easier now that everything they could want is only a couple of mouse clicks away. Truckers are responsible for their own safety, health and comfort so it is always important to keep their lifestyle in mind when purchasing a gift. Every driver is different so make sure to take into consideration things like:
- Do they ride at night mostly?
- Do they drive in cold or warmer weather?
- Do they own/lease their own truck or drive for a company?
- How much space do they have in their cabin and do they frequently long haul?
With these basic questions covered you are ready to start shopping! Below is a list of great gift ideas and products for any driver or truck enthusiast.
1. Seat Covers – These are a quick and affordable way to customize and improve a driver’s cabin. They are available in a wide range of styles and colors and fit most models of seats.
2. CB Radios – No big rig is complete without a CB radio. Even in today’s age of computers, tablets and cell phones its still nice to tune in and have a conversation with a fellow driver. CBs have a rich tradition in the trucking world and can act as a reliable backup communication device if the need ever arises.
3. Trucker T-Shirts – T-Shirts are a perfect way to show your love of big rigs and are perfect for drivers, their significant others and children alike. Anybody who loves trucks can appreciate a stylish t-shirt. Some are really funny and can make a statement about your personality right up front.
4. Polishing and Buffing Kits – This is a perfect gift for any trucker who likes to have a little chrome and shine on his big rig. There are different size kits for any application. The best place to get started is the Zephyr Professional Polisher’s Starter Kit. It has everything you’ll need to give your truck a professional look for a fraction of the price it would cost to have it done in garage. There are also more affordable kits for buffing and wheel polishing.
5. Heavy Duty Boots – Trucking is a tough job and sometimes you’ll be getting in and out of your cabs in all types of weather and dangerous conditions. A good pair of boots is important for both comfort and minimizing on the job injuries. Nothing can set you back quicker than a serious injury to your feet. At the end of the day they are the real money makers!
6. Blue Tooth Headsets – These are a staple of the trucking industry and have pretty much become a necessity for most drivers. Hands free head sets make talking on the road much safer and easier. A good safety record is a veteran driver’s most valuable asset so make sure you have both hands free while on the road. Blue Parrot makes an excellent headset and is the preferred brand of thousands of drivers. They are the perfect gift for any trucker and are also very affordable.
7. Hood Ornaments – These are a classic way to dress up the hood of your big rig. There are tons of options to suit any personality from the Peterbilt Swan to the iconic Deathproof Duck from the timeless film Convoy. They install easily and brighten the mood of anybody looking in their rear view mirror.
8. GPS and Navigation Units - Rand McNally has a great reputation for trucking specific GPS units and navigation aids. The TND 700 is the hallmark series of the brand and makes a perfect addition to any driver’s tools. For a longer list of features check out the product listing here.
In addition to these great trucker gifts here are some other useful tips for online shopping during the holidays:
- Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for the products to arrive. If a product is in stock it can take 3-5 business days depending on your zip code. Also, don’t forget to be the one checking the mail! You don’t want to ruin a good surprise.
- Start a wish list early: if you know what you are probably going to be buying during the holidays it will make it easier to shop for the best deals on those products. Make sure to check back at our homepage frequently and sign up for our newsletter. We will constantly be offering deals through the shopping season.
- Know what is going on sale during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. If there is something you must have on sale make sure to be ready to purchase! Things can stock out quickly.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If something doesn’t feel right, or you aren’t sure about a purchase make sure to call or email to clarify. Shopping should be fun, not stressful.
- Keep a list of coupon codes. There are tons of sites online that offer coupon codes and if you plan on making multiple purchases, it will be very helpful to keep a list: Just like Santa!
Eating healthy and exercising while you are on the road is never an easy task. There are plenty of unhealthy options staring you in the face at every truck stop: Fast food, candy bars and of course, beef jerky. To avoid these pitfalls, it is best to be prepared and follow a simple health regimen that you can stick by. Rome wasn’t built in a day so you shouldn’t expect to have to completely change your whole lifestyle right out of the gate. But as you’ll see, many of the bad choices you make can easily be replaced by good ones. Let’s start with some good eating habits:
- Make sure to eat breakfast each and every day. It is the best kick-start you can give to your metabolism and actually helps burn calories as long as you don’t scarf down a triple-decker fried waffle sandwich. Stick with egg-whites, whole grains, fruits and granola. This also means don’t eat a lot of food before you know you will be going to sleep. Eating right before bed is just about the worst thing you can do as your body is not actively working to metabolize the food and it will sit and get turned into fat, or worse, heartburn.
- Snacking is actually a good way to stay healthy, provided you are snacking on the right foods. Keep some almonds or cashews within arms reach and wash them down with some water when you start to get hungry. Nuts are high in mono-saturated fats and oelic acid which are both great for cardiovascular health. Dried fruits and granola bars (not the ones with tons of chocolate in them, sorry) also make good snacks in a pinch when you need something sweeter. If you must have beef jerky, stick with a turkey option. It still isn’t the best thing for you but its an improvement over beef.
- Counting calories isn’t for everyone and if you are as busy as most truckers you don’t have time. One thing you can do though is read the label of what you are about to eat. Many food packages deceptive label their calories by very small portions so keep this in mind. It is unrealistic to cut all fast and junk food out of your life so if you are going to partake, be aware of what you are putting into your body. With fast food, try to choose items that aren’t deep fried, like grilled chicken sandwiches or veggie replacements like portobello burgers.
The next big step to improving your overall health is finding time to exercise and stretch out. Here are some quick tips:
- When you get a chance, stretch! There will always be time at rest stops, loading docks and when you are on-call waiting for a pickup location to stretch out your muscles. The most important groups to work out are the hamstrings and you lower back. Both of these groups suffer the most from life on the road. An easy stretch for your hamstrings is to simply lean forward and try to grab your toes. To stretch your lower back there are a couple of techniques. One, is to sit up straight in a chair and put one of your ankles on the opposite knee. Then, press down gently on the leg that is lifted and lean forward a bit. This will stretch your hip flexor and lower back. The other, is to lay on your back and bring your knees towards your chest and gently pull on them.
- Maximize time at hotels. Sometimes you just need to spend a day outside your truck at a hotel or your work provides you with an opportunity to stay at one. Many hotels have pools and exercise rooms so don’t neglect these when you have some time to use them. Exercise in the pool is a great way to clear your head and stay healthy.
Some final tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the road include keeping good sleep hygiene, good oral hygiene and seeing a physician at least once a year for a physical. If you can incorporate at least a majority of these tips into your life you will see results. Health and well-being aren’t something to take lightly. They affect just about every interaction you have on a daily basis. The better you feel, the more positive you come across to others and, in turn, the better your are treated. Best of luck and keep on trucking!