The freight never stops, which is why trucking can be such a rewarding job. Spending the holidays on the road can be a great opportunity for truckers to haul extra loads due to the busy season. While it is a great money-making opportunity, driving coast to coast, or even regionally, can take a toll on truckers away from home during the holidays.
With the roads being more congested than usual, deadlines to meet and the emotional toll of being away from family and friends, driving through the holidays can come with stress. If you decide to take advantage of the busy holiday season, here are some tips you can follow to keep you safe, and sane, on the road from Thanksgiving through the new year.
Tips for Truckers Driving Through the Holiday Season
Safety first, right?
1.Pack for the Weather
Even though you’ll be driving comfortably in the cab of your truck, if you blow a tire or need to be outside for other maintenance, you want to be prepared. In addition to your usual packing list, make sure you bring extra gloves, socks, a hat and blanket. The holiday season = winter in many areas of the United States, so driving during the holidays means battling cold weather.
Check out our packing supplies checklist to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be for holiday driving.
2. Check the Forecast
See what you’re getting yourself into before you hit the road this holiday season. It may start snowing out of nowhere, and icy conditions can go unnoticed until you’re slipping and sliding all over the road. If you know what to expect, you won’t be surprised when you run into some snowflakes.
Driving during the holidays means becoming a more defensive driver because of the crowded highways and winter road conditions.
3. Review Procedure
Refresh your skills for snowy and icy roads. Know how to properly chain up your truck and remember not to use your Jake brake on icy roads. Keep your fuel levels high during the holidays for weight purposes, and who wants to deal with crowded gas stations during the holidays?
Study up on all the winter driving tips to keep yourself safe on the road this holiday season.
General tips for driving during the holidays:
4. Use technology
It seems self-explanatory right? Use that smartphone or tablet to its’ fullest potential. Take the time to video chat with family, friends and loved ones through the holiday season to make sure you don’t miss out on anything. Even if you’re away from home, you can feel like you’re there with the help of your phone.
It may be helpful for you to schedule a specific time every day or every other day that you will call your family or friends to make sure you don’t skip out on communicating with others. It also puts in a time for you to take a break, which you always need when you’re on the road, even if it isn’t during the holidays.
5. Give when you can
The holidays are a time for giving to those you appreciate. We don’t mean buy a gift for every trucker you run into at a truck stop, but make sure you lend a helping hand when you can. The holidays are stressful for all truck drivers, not just you, so if you see a fellow trucker who could use some help, step up.
Don’t forget to say thank you to people in your company or industry who have helped you be successful throughout the year. It feels good to be appreciated.
6. Lower your expectations (at least a little)
If you decide to take the business opportunity to work throughout the holidays, it can emotionally beneficially to let go of the image of the holidays you have in your mind. If you have children, understand that you might have Thanksgiving the day before, or if you celebrate Christmas, maybe you open presents a couple of days before the 25th.
This will also help you avoid road rage and keep you sane, and safe!
Remember that it’s the principle of celebrating and spending time with loved ones that are important, not the date you do it.
7. Avoid putting pressure on yourself
It’s always good to push yourself professionally to be the best you can be, and as a truck driver, the holidays offer that opportunity at the perfect time. You can make some extra money to spend on gifts, make final payments for the year and really prove your own self-worth. However, don’t push yourself too hard.
You’re only human and if you turn down the opportunity to haul a load now and then during the holidays, it doesn’t mean you’re a lazy driver, it just means you’re taking care of yourself, and sometimes your family in a different way.
8. Organize your finances
The holiday season means the end of the year, which means taxes and other obligations you might have as an owner-operator or independent truck driver. Give yourself some time to organize everything you can write off and consider establishing a financial plan for next year. If you could benefit from getting paid faster, partner with a factoring company. Trucking invoice factoring is flexible – so you’ll never be required to factor every customer or meet any minimum volume requirements.