What to Pack for an OTR Trucking Job in the Winter

Truck driving in the winter weatherWhen it’s time to get get in the seat and you’re driving in winter weather or part of your trip will take you through winter weather, it’s a good idea to pack some extras, especially if you are driving through remote areas. Whether you are driving through mountains or through prairies with long stretches between populated areas, a winter emergency kit could save your life.

Choosing a Plan of Action

If your truck breaks down or you get stuck in a snow bank in a remote region, it could be hours or even a day or more before you can get help, especially if your cell phone or a satellite phone has no service. Since the range of a CB radio is limited, you won’t be able to rely on that, either.

Now, you need to decide whether to let your truck run so you can keep warm or whether to conserve gas. If you idle the gas away you’re going to be in a bigger bind since you won’t have enough to get to the next town. If you are on a route that you travel frequently, you could guess how much gas you need to save to get to the next gas station and let the truck idle for 5 to 10 minutes every hour or two. However, if you have an emergency kit, you won’t have to worry about that.

Packing an Emergency Kit

Warmth and Food

For survival, you’ll need heat, water and food. In most places, you can find dead fall to build a fire to keep yourself warm. To ensure that you’ll be able to start a fire, keep waterproof matches and tinder in your emergency kit. An empty toilet paper roll stuffed with dryer lint makes an excellent fire starter. Keep the toilet paper rolls and dryer lint in a zippered plastic bag to keep it dry.

If you know you are going to be traveling through an area that doesn’t have trees and dead fall, you might carry a bag of charcoal with you. If you keep a small folding grill packed away, you’ll have a place to light the charcoal for warmth, and you’ll have something to cook on instead of wearing down the batteries by using the microwave in the truck.

If the fridge in the truck is starting to get too warm, simply put your perishables outside the truck. The cold will keep them from spoiling, though it if it’s below 30 degrees, things may freeze. As part of your emergency kit, you should always carry non-perishable high-energy food, such as peanut butter, chocolate, energy drinks and granola bars. Extra water is also a must.

Keeping Dry and Warm

If you’re stuck because the truck broke down or because you slid off the road, you may get wet trying to fix the truck if you have to crawl under it; and if you’re putting chains on the tires, you’re sure to get wet and maybe even muddy. Be sure to keep an extra set of warm, dry clothing, an extra jacket and extra gloves in your emergency kit. You’ll be glad to have something to change into instead of letting wet clothing dry on you.

Extra blankets are also a good idea. Just be sure that the blanket material is warm. Tarps also fold up small enough to stash in out of the way. Having a tarp also helps if you need to get under the truck or even to cover a broken window to keep the wind and weather out of the cab of the truck. Should you decide to hike out, the tarp will provide a shelter for you should more bad weather hit or you don’t make it to the next town before nightfall.

First Aid

The last thing anyone wants is to be hurt in an accident or to hurt themselves while repairing a truck, putting chains or any other reason. An extensive first aid kit could save your life. Make sure the first aid kit you choose has several bandages of different sizes, bandage tape, eye wash, anti-bacterial cream, burn cream, finger splint, ace bandages, gauze, tweezers, needle and thread, alcohol swabs and extra water for cleaning wounds at a minimum. The smaller first aid kits are not enough as they only contain small bandages and items for minor cuts.

Communication and Miscellaneous Items

Never rely on a cell phone to have service. Make sure your truck has a CB radio in the event that a trucker within listening distance can hear you. Also, you should have a hand crank radio so that you could listen to an emergency channel.

A flashlight, extra batteries, reflective emergency triangles, tow chains or straps, a flare gun and flares, a snow shovel and a regular spaded shovel are also important tools to have on hand.

When you have these items, you have a better chance of surviving getting stuck in a remote place in the middle of a snowstorm and you’ll have the ability to try to get yourself unstuck.

What Truckers Should Buy After Christmas for Best Savings

Parked trucksSpending money during the holidays is part and parcel with the season. Between friends and family members, chances are you’ll be doing your own fair share of shopping during the holiday season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offered some great discount opportunities. But what if you need to do some shopping for yourself? Should you buy now, or wait until later? Truth be told if you can hold off until after Christmas for spending on yourself, you are likely to get a deeper discount. Of course this only applies to certain types of goods, but in those instances you’ll be able to buy things at rock bottom prices. Here’s the scoop on after holiday shopping savings along with a list of sites that will help you secure the best deals.

All Things Techie

In the market for a new TV for your truck? Wish you could find an affordable Blu-ray player? Well, just hold off until after Christmas. Electronics are historically marked down after the New Year as part of the release of the year’s newest models. If you are fine with getting a gadget or device from last year’s stock, then you’ll save a serious amount of money. In most instances the previous generation of tech gear is just fine for your needs. Check out Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon for clearance sales on all sorts of electronics. Here are some of the most wanted tech gear for truckers:

  • Flatscreen TV
  • Video game console with games
  • Blu-ray DVD player
  • Surround sound speakers
  • Electric pressure cooker
  • Laptop, such as MacBook Pro, Toshiba Chromebook or Dell Inspiron Touch-screen
  • Tablet, such as an iPad
  • Smartphone
  • Bluetooth headset for phone, such as Blue Parrott

Snacks and Food Kits

Every trucker has to eat, and some prefer to eat in their rig. Not only can this save you money, but it is also very convenient to have snacks on hand in your cab in case you are stranded in the middle of nowhere overnight or between loads. Whether you are eating healthy, like the Plant-Fueled Trucker, or you are trying to stock up on shelf-stable foods, food-related gift sets are golden. Think of those food baskets you see sold during the holidays.

Some baskets are filled with summer sausage, blocks of gourmet cheese and packs of crackers. Others have a breakfast theme and include bags of ground coffee, cookies and mini bottles of maple syrup. These baskets come with small amounts that are ideal for a truck driver with limited space. Plus during the after Christmas sales, you’ll be able to snag these for super cheap. After all, companies can’t store these baskets for the next year without risking spoilage or infestation while in storage. You can also reuse the basket for a trash can or storage container in your cab.

Going for Gift Cards

Gift cards are phenomenal ways to give gifts. You don’t have to do any picking or choosing; simply purchase a gift card and let the gift recipient do the buying themselves. Everyone is happy. Well, not exactly. Unfortunately many gift cards go unused, or worse yet, sold for cash so the person can truly buy whatever they want. Here are some of the sites where this takes place:

  • Cardpool
  • eBay
  • Card Cash
  • Raise
  • Gift Card Granny
  • Gift Card Zen

So if you are a trucker looking for a good deal, how can you expect to profit from sold gift cards? Check out these gift card selling sites and you’ll find unwanted gift cards for sale. Purchase a gift card for a fraction of the price, typically 15 percent less than the full amount on the card. Stores that have lots of unused gift cards equals deeper discounts as there are more unused cards flooding the market. For example, you can score a gift card worth $100 at Walmart for $85, saving you $15 in the process. The worry is that you would receive a gift card that is already used. Thankfully websites allowing for the sale of gift cards offer satisfaction guarantees that honor your money back in case you receive a bum card.

Winter Clothing

If you are in the market for winter ready work boots or a new jacket for work, then wait until after Christmas to go shopping. Clothing hits rock bottom prices post holidays. As a result, 45 percent of sales on clothes occur after Christmas. Retailers are moving to get the winter stock out of sight so spring clothing can move into their space. You can get a new winter wardrobe for a bargain, allowing you to stock and save for the rest of winter.

How to Make Your Trucking Job Search a Success

Truck with the words Drivers NeededFinding a new trucking job is a process. For starters, the best paying trucking jobs aren’t going to come knocking on your door. You have to know where to look for them. Secondly, how do you know what is a great trucking job if you have nothing to compare them to? Understanding what the trucking industry has to offer gives you leverage when choosing between a sub par trucking company and one that has stellar ratings by experienced truckers. Avoid wasting time by choosing the wrong trucking company to work for by taking these steps for a successful job search.

Where to Find Trucking Jobs

Long gone are the days when you had to depend on old fashioned bulletin boards, telephone calls and business contacts. Today trucking jobs are quick come, quick to go thanks to the use of the Internet. Consignors and customers can make requests on online trucking job boards. Truckers log on to a job site, like TruckerClassifieds, and they can pull up jobs within a particular geographical area based on their current route. These jobs are also organized according to haul type, such as:

  • Flatbed trucking jobs
  • Tanker jobs
  • Car hauler jobs
  • Dry van trucking jobs
  • Reefer trailer hauls
  • Drop step trailer jobs
  • Bull hauler trucker jobs
  • Heavy equipment trucking hauls
  • Oversized load hauls

The convenience of searching for jobs online allows truck drivers to search for new trucking jobs anywhere they are in the US, given they have access to the Internet. This greatly improves the efficiency of job searching for truckers. However, it also requires you to join the web race so you can be one step ahead of the next smart truck driver who is also searching for trucking jobs online. Here are tips to handle this situation:

  • Sign up for an account with a trucking job search site.
  • Go ahead and upload your application and resume even if you haven’t found a job that you want to apply to yet; this way when a good paying trucking job becomes available you will be one step ahead.
  • Limit your search to truck driving jobs located within your geographical region; you’ll save time by narrowing down your focus to those jobs you are most serious about getting.
  • Log into your account at TruckerClassifieds daily if you are serious about finding a trucking job.

Getting What You Deserve

Sure, there are plenty of truck driver jobs on the market. In fact, the trucking industry lacks in truck drivers, which means you have options for jobs. This is a great position to be in. Consider it a form of supply and demand. Since the supply is down and the demand is up, you have the ability to negotiate for better paying trucking jobs. These include:

  • Sign-on bonuses exceeding $8,000 per driver including team drivers, tanker drivers and reefer haulers
  • Benefits packages ranging from retirement packages, such as 401K plans and profit sharing, in addition to health insurance and life insurance options
  • Wellness programs, such as onsite gym memberships, smoking cessation courses and legal counseling for truck drivers
  • Great pay rates, such as 40 cents per mile or a percentage pay of loads
  • Regular loads, in addition to consistent home time
  • Reimbursement for your truck driving school tuition

Going into a new trucking job you want to connect with a trucking company that will offer you the best benefits possible. However, for some truckers certain benefits won’t be of use to you at all. For example, if you do not have a family, then you may not care about the benefit of a life insurance policy. For truck drivers with their own healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act, they might not be as interested in sourcing health insurance through their trucking employer. However, there is one benefit that will make all truckers happy, the sign on bonus.

Making the Most of Sign On Bonuses

Many trucking companies offer various sign on bonuses, such as an extra bonus for team drivers interested in team trucking jobs. If you have experience you are typically placed in a higher tier for bonuses, and you can expect to get a greater bonus starting out. Check with the human resources department, or on the trucking company’s website, to see if they offer special bonuses for particular truck driving skills and experiences. Every little bit helps, and free money in the form of a bonus can help you make that final decision on which trucking company to drive for as a trucker.

4 Reasons Your Spouse Should Ride Shotgun on Trucking Jobs

Man, woman, and child in front of a big rig truckYour job as a trucker lets you make enough money to pay the bills and feed your family. It gives you the freedom to work independently, while you travel across the US seeing all sorts of cities and seasons. At the same time, there are downsides, especially if you have a spouse back at home. You get lonely, you miss each other and you want to spend more time together. That’s the sacrifice that truckers and their spouses make each and every day. What if it didn’t have to be like that? What if you could have your cake and eat it too?

Strengthen Your Relationship

Couples who have a stable relationship can take it one of two ways. You either nourish your relationship and help it grow, or you lose that loving connection and watch your relationship wither. For truck drivers having a healthy relationship with a spouse is instrumental in helping truckers stay happy and focused. What better way for a truck driver to work on his relationship than to spend more time with his spouse over the road? Keep in mind it can be a challenge to share a confined cab space with anyone else, even a spouse. You will have to work together to make things go smoothly. However, like all efforts in life, if you are successful your relationship will blossom into full bloom.

Travel Together

If traveling is on your wish list of things to do as a couple, then being a driver in the trucking industry is a great way to accomplish that. Truck drivers taking over the road trucking jobs haul everything from cattle to cars to clementines from the Pacific northwest to the Florida Keys. You get to see all corners of this great nation, while making money in the process. For you and your spouse, you can take advantage of your job environment by going over the road together. Think of it like one long road trip where you get paid to travel.

Avoid Loneliness

A big issue among truckers of all ages, from rookies to seasoned drivers, is loneliness. The road gets awfully quiet sometimes and your time alone becomes overpoweringly depressing. During the wintertime this can be even more of a problem thanks to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs most often when seasons change or the daylight hours are reduced. For truckers away from home over the holidays, loneliness is combined with the feeling that you are missing out on the festivities with family and friends. If you have your spouse with you on OTR trucking jobs, such as hauling flatbed loads or reefer trucking jobs, then you are able to avoid feeling lonely. Your spouse can help you cope with the change of seasons by being supportive and communicative.

Become a Team

Driving a truck can allow you to earn good money with trucking jobs ranging from dry van loads to car haulers. However, if you drive as a team, you can make the most money as a truck driver. Team driving jobs earn big bucks because your tractor-trailer is constantly rolling. As a result, you are living with your team mate in your big rig. For a lot of team drivers this means living with someone whom you don’t know too well prior to the job. If your spouse has their CDL, they can become a team driver with you. In addition to driving with someone whom you love, you have every reason to spend more time with your spouse. At the same time you are both bringing in paychecks that are greater than what many college graduates are earning.

Considerations

While taking your spouse over the road may sound like the perfect situation, there are limits. First of all, if you are employed by a trucking company, such as Swift Transportation, Schneider Trucking or JB Hunt, you may not be allowed to have passengers in your rig. For drivers who are owner operators or independent truckers, check with your insurance provider to ensure that your spouse is covered under your trucking insurance policy. The last thing you want to do is get in trouble with the boss or DOT inspector because you aren’t approved to have a spouse riding shotgun.

Preparing for the Unexpected with Truckers Final Mile

blue sticky note, says not aloneThe last thing you want to think about as a trucker is getting involved in an accident where you are injured or even killed. Yet with all aspects of life, death is just around the bend. For that reason, you need to prepare for every possible scenario. Organizations like Truckers Final Mile help you come up with a viable solution if you are in need of assistance while over the road. Furthermore, your family members will be able to get support through this organization. Truckers Final Mile covers the territory of a typically hush-hush situation in the best way possible.

Who is Truckers Final Mile

Truckers Final Mile is a nonprofit organization that operates on charitable donations and fundraising. The proceeds that are taken in through TFM go to help truck drivers and their spouses and children in the instance that they are in a trucking related incident. The organization provides funds for:

  • Immediate travel including ground transportation
  • Lodging expenses
  • Transportation of a truck driver’s remains if they have perished over the road

Truckers Final Mile helps out with circumstances of either a truck driver working over the road or their immediate family members. These circumstances include:

  • Death
  • Severe injury
  • Major medical situation

Also, as of February 2015 TFM is working to provide truck drivers with housing that is accessible in the instance that they require assistance with mobility, i.e. they are in a wheelchair due to an accident. Getting some financial assistance with transportation in a moment of crisis helps to ease the burden on truck drivers and their families. However, this isn’t the only program offered by TFM.

Christmas for Truckers Kids Christmas

The organization is also involved with fundraising for the terminally ill children of truck drivers, as well as those children who have lost a parent who was a trucker. Kids are the family members who are most affected by the long weeks that truckers spend over the road. While the spouse is capable of choosing whether or not to be in a relationship with a truck driver, the children are given no choice on how their parents earn a living. For young children the long periods of time without both parents can be rather difficult. Any way that these kids can get some relief is welcomed, and the holidays is a perfect time to send some cheer their way.

Stories of children who have lost a parent while truck driving are even more heartbreaking. Furthermore, the scores of kids who are terminally ill and struggling to survive while their parent drives OTR trucking jobs to cover hospital bills will bring tears to your eyes. That’s why Truckers Final Mile is working diligently to raise $50,000 for Christmas for Truckers Kids Christmas. This campaign is being hosted on GoFundMe as “Sleigh Bells and Santa.” The fundraiser is set to end in mid-December with all proceeds going to grant the Christmas wishes of these truckers’ kids.

Future Programs for Truckers Final Mile

Up next for TFM is an official program designated to provide additional benefits for truckers and their families. First off, the program plans to give a $1,000 check to the next of kin within 24 hours of the death of a truck driver. This money is to go toward any costs related to the death. Truckers Final Mile also anticipates to start a 24-hour grief counseling service for truck drivers and their family members. In order to achieve their goals Truckers Final Mile depends on the charitable donations of individuals and businesses.

Donating to Truckers Final Mile

If you are searching for a way to give to others this holiday season, Truckers Final Mile is a stand-up organization that fills a need for truck drivers and their families. While St. Christopher’s Fund works with truck drivers who have a medical circumstance, and Trucker Charity Inc. helps feed hungry truckers, TFM works to financially support those in a time of crisis. Getting into a trucking accident is a devastating and life changing situation, as is dealing with major illnesses and the death of a family member. That’s where Truckers Final Mile comes onto the scene. Through the financial support of people like truck drivers this organization can continue to provide much needed aid for a topic that is often overlooked. Here are ways to donate to this organization:

  • Donations to Truckers Final Mile can be done using PayPal, debit card or credit card
  • You can also donate through the GoFundMe campaign Truckers Final Mile.
  • Send a check or money order to 3301-R Coors Blvd., N.W. #293, Albuquerque, NM 87120.
  • If you shop on Amazon.com, use Amazon Smile to donate 0.5% of your purchase; when you “select a charity” the appropriate charity name is “truckersfinalmile.org.”

Giving back to other truckers in need is more than a goodwill offering. It is also tax deductible, which is wonderful news with tax season for truckers right around the corner. It truly is a wonderful way to give back to the drivers, the backbone of the trucking industry.

Helping Soldiers Overseas with Truckers for Troops and Similar Organizations

Soldier with snowflakes holiday pictureThe Christmas season is the best time of year to give back to others. What follows are some terrific ways for trucking companies to give back this holiday season. While giving to charitable organizations is available all year long, during the holidays more organizations set up fundraisers and events to encourage giving. One of these organizations is Truckers for Troops. This nonprofit organization provides care packages for soldiers serving overseas. If you are interested in giving back to the troops, this is a great, trucker friendly organization to utilize.

Sending Care Packages to Troops

When you send a care package to a soldier there are several precautionary steps that must be taken. First of all, you can’t just send a package addressed to “Any Soldier” at a military base. In the pre-9/11 days you could do that, but now with the security measures in place, all packages not addressed to a specific soldier must be destroyed. That means you have to go through an organization with access to the names and wish lists of soldiers. Truckers for Troops is one such group, and it has been supporting the troops for the last nine years.

Supporting Truckers for Troops

The Truckers for Troops organization is sponsored by OOIDA, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. This fundraising effort has been going on since 2007, during which more than $460,000 has been donated and used for care packages for soldiers who are deployed in active duty. Each year a membership drive is held during November in line with Veterans Day. For 2015 the campaign ran from November 9 to 16. When truckers sign up for a membership to OOIDA during the campaign period, 10 percent of their fees go to Truckers for Troops. Then OOIDA takes the donations and matches them dollar for dollar.

As of 2015 OOIDA is going a step further thanks to the generosity of donors. While Truckers for Troops has historically only supported combat soldiers overseas, the funding will now reach veterans who are stateside due to injuries. The money collected by Truckers for Troops has funded the purchasing of more than 2,500 packages sent to 30,000 soldiers and military personnel. These care packages can weigh up to 70 pounds and are filled to the brim with all kinds of goodies, from shelf stable snacks to paperback books.

In addition to providing military personnel with necessities they need while overseas, but can’t afford to purchase or are able to locate, these care packages also include items to help soldiers pass the time. Plus, it’s a nice way for those soldiers who don’t have family or loved ones back home sending packages to receive something thoughtful during the holiday season. For far too many soldiers, the care packages put together and sent by strangers through Truckers for Troops and other charitable groups will be all that they will receive for Christmas.

Other Ways to Give to Troops

If you missed the Truckers for Troops campaign and want to give to soldiers in other ways, you are in luck. For starters, the American Red Cross hosts an annual card drive for soldiers. Holiday Mail for Heroes is a program through the Red Cross in which you can send holiday cards to soldiers either in veterans’ hospitals or overseas. In previous years you could send your cards to the Red Cross directly and they would distribute the greetings. As of 2015 the program has changed so that now you will need to contact your local Red Cross to see where to send greeting cards on a local level.

Operation Gratitude is a program that allows you to donate money to go toward care packages for soldiers. You are able to include a personalized greeting along with your donation. If you want to get more personal by purchasing specific items to send in care packages, Operation Gratitude has a wish list that includes items that soldiers have specifically requested along with links where you purchase these online. This is a great way to do more than just donate cash; you actually get to pick out the items you are gifting. The organization also lets you send new items as noted from the wish list, in case you prefer to do your own shopping. Operation Gratitude also provides care packages and items for our wounded heroes who are stateside and in veterans hospitals.

Start a Tradition for Giving to Troops

Other ways to help soldiers and veterans through support during the holidays is to get a group together to write letters to send to military personnel. These letters are sent to anonymous individuals, but they give you a chance to express your gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families. If you are interested in doing something as a group, contact your trucking company HR department to see if you can organize it among your fellow truck drivers.

Get everyone on board, provide them with the basic information of what their letters will mean to the soldiers who receive them, and then have everyone write a thoughtful note or two dozen. Gather everything together and go through a group like Operation Gratitude to have your letters delivered to military personnel. This is a great holiday project that you could make into a tradition at your trucking company.

Showing Support for Fallen Veterans: Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America - Wreaths In Graveyard of Fallen SoldiersDuring the holidays it is a time to reflect and remember the events over the past years. It is a time when we as Americans think about what it means to be an American. As part of that reflection we look at the sacrifices that our soldiers have made to help protect the freedoms of the USA. For many of our soldiers and veterans their lives dedicated to serving our great country have ended too soon. Finding a way to show our support and solidarity during the holidays is important to those soldiers who are still fighting the good fight. One organization, Wreaths Across America, goes that extra step to make sure that we don’t forget those who have lost their lives in battles, wars and after many years of serving America.

Who is Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization based out of Maine. It was established in 1992 as volunteers took a trailer load of Christmas wreaths and decorated the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. The mission of the group thrived and by 2007 Wreaths Across America formed as an official nonprofit organization associated with The Arlington Wreath Project. Today more than 900 locations in every state, as well as 24 US veteran cemeteries located in other countries, are part of this organization. Each year the group depends on the goodwill, charity and volunteer work of individuals to keep the mission alive, which is to Remember, Honor and Teach.

On December 12 it is National Wreaths Across America Day. This is when the organization places wreaths on the Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at locations throughout the US. If you are interested in getting a cemetery location added to the WAA list, please contact the organization to sign up. They will send out wreaths, nine to a box, to your location for the placement on gravestones of veterans and soldiers. Volunteers that you’ve selected for your location will be responsible for laying out the wreaths. Contact your local veterans auxiliary to see if they are set to host a WAA Day in your community so that you can attend and show your support for the cause.

Sponsoring and Donating to Wreaths Across America

If you are unable to attend a wreath laying ceremony for Wreaths Across America, there are other ways you can show support. Wreath sponsors are always welcome. Here are the specifics regarding donations for WAA:

  • One wreath costs $15
  • A couples’ sponsorship for 2 wreaths is $30
  • A multiple remembrance sponsorship pays for 5 wreaths and is $75
  • You can sign up as a small business sponsor for $150 for 15 wreaths
  • A corporate membership is $1,500 and it includes 100 wreaths, as well as 100 note cards your business sends to the recipient families as notification that your business sponsored the wreaths

You can also donate any amount that you have just in support of the cause if you do not wish to sponsor a wreath. This can be “In honor of” or “In memory of” someone whether they are living or passed on. Simply sign up for this option on the WAA donation page. This is a great gift idea for someone who may be a veteran or family of a soldier, as a way to show your appreciation while giving them something with meaning.

Volunteering for Wreaths Across America

Another way to show your support for WAA is by serving as a volunteer on National Wreaths Across America Day. Volunteer as an individual interested in handling and placing wreaths. If you are a truck driver interested in starting up a volunteer program at your workplace, let your employer know that they can volunteer as a trucking company. This would place you and your fellow truck drivers behind the wheel of a rig that is hauling the Wreaths Across America. Check out this list of routes that will be dispatched for the WAA day, so you can see if there are any available routes in your region. This is a great way to get your trucking company involved in an organization that supports national pride and American’s veterans.

Trucking Companies Supporting Wreaths Across America

In order to get the gargantuan number of wreaths around the US on National Wreaths Across America Day, it takes a mighty convoy of truckers. For example, in 2014 more than 160 trucking companies volunteered to be a part of WAA. Of course not all truckers can be on the Arlington Convoy of delivering wreaths to this national cemetery. At the present time, 12 truckers are on that particular convoy. They are granted the liberty of being on the convoy each year. However, other interested truck drivers can get on the WAA waiting list for future years. When or if one of the dozen drivers decide to cease driving on the Arlington Convoy, the next truck driver candidate will be given the opportunity. Even if you don’t get to drive for the Arlington Convoy there is plenty of work to go around. Approximately 300 truckloads of wreaths are delivered each year, and this is handled completely by volunteers.

How to Connect with Your Loved Ones on OTR Trucking

OTR wiht trucks surrounding a truck wheelThe holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family, making memories and reconnecting. For truck drivers taking OTR trucking jobs that can be a tall order. After all your job keeps you away from home more often than not, and you can’t just take a holiday vacation whenever it suits you. You have to keep the wheels rolling to keep your job. That can make the holidays difficult to handle. Just as your loved ones want to spend time with you, you need to spend time with them. Thankfully technology for truckers makes this task much easier in the 21st century. Here are ways you can turn your lonely holiday around on a dime.

Phones Still Work

That old fashioned method of making a phone call still applies, even in this day of texting, emailing and video chats. Sure texting is easier than picking up the phone and calling people. But you miss out on the connection when you “lol” or emoji your family members. Make an effort to call your loved ones at least once a week during the holiday season. Have a chit chat and catch up on their lives, while you truly listen to them. This is the perfect time to try and pick up on any clues that something is amiss, that you wouldn’t be able to notice in texts or emails. Do they sound sad, depressed, angry, spacey, lonely, lost or annoyed? That’s your clue that something isn’t right and they need your support. The holidays are tough for everyone especially family members kept apart by distance. You might not be there in person, but a good ole phone call is your next best bet.

Video Conferencing for Newbies

two people video conferencing on a tabletWhen I say phone calls are the next best thing, that isn’t quite the case. Video conferencing is the next closest thing to being there because it lets you see and be seen during your virtual visit. Unfortunately it’s a little bit more complicated to get into video chatting, in comparison to phone calls, which is why this ranks at #2 on this list. You need to have the right tools to do this, and you have to figure out the technology before you get started. Additionally, the person on the other end of your chat needs to have the same technology. For example, if you both have iPhones, iPads or Macs you can do FaceTime easily. For those using Google Hangouts, you both need a laptop or a Google phone, such as Google Nexus. Top forms of video chatting technology that operate on laptops and tablets include:

  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • Facebook Video Chat
  • Meetings.io

Once you figure out which route you are going to use when video chatting you have to look at your connectivity options. You need to have Wi-Fi or data in order to chat, and this takes more data than simply shooting an email. If your phone has a data plan consider upgrading it for the holidays so you can use that for video chatting in your big rig. Otherwise you can invest in a hotspot for truckers, which lets you connect to a secure and private Wi-Fi connection anywhere you go. If you are near a truck stop, rest area or business that offers Wi-Fi, for free or a fee, you can connect to that for video chatting. However, you are going to be in a public place, which isn’t the easiest way to have an intimate conversation on video.

Snail Mail Options

In the day of technology it is easy to overlook one of the most intimate ways to connect when your truck driving job takes you from coast to coast. Truck drivers might not think of postcards and letters as their go-to method of communication, but this lost art says a lot. You can send a postcard or letter easily at most truck stops if you have the proper postage. Just ask them to add your mail to their outgoing mail pile. Sending a postcard with a handwritten, personalized note from you will mean the world to your loved ones during the holidays. Channel your inner child, and write them letters, draw pictures or cut snowflakes out of paper and send these to your kids. They’ll appreciate that much more than any boxed toy you could send them that’ll be broken or collecting dust by January. Your letters are homemade gifts, the best kind you can send.

Benefits of Staying Connected for Truckers

When you are over the road it can be easy to ignore the holiday season. You don’t see a festively decorated Christmas tree day after day, you aren’t eating freshly baked cookies from your spouse, and you can’t go holiday shopping with your kids. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays. Stay connected by reaching out more often than not these holidays. If not for yourself, then do it for your family and friends. They miss you and want you to be with them especially during the holiday season. Do the best you can and it’ll make the days that much sweeter and more memorable in the long run.

How to Shop Online for the Holidays as a Trucker

smartphone-amazon-shopping

For truck drivers in OTR trucking jobs during the holidays, shopping time is limited. First of all, you are working during the prime shopping hours, driving from coast to coast. By the time you shut down for the night, the last thing you want to do is find a shopping mall. Speaking of stores for shopping, truck drivers can’t just whip it into any shopping center or store parking lot. Wal-Mart is pretty much the only store you can stop at, and braving that crowd any time after Black Friday takes a lot of patience. So what’s a trucker to do? Take your shopping online using the best shopping sites on the web.

Amazon

For online shopping, few stores can beat the prices and selection of Amazon. This site sells more variety from designer jeans to diamonds so you can do all of your shopping in one place. Keep your orders organized, and use the online store to track your gift shipments. Here are ways to make Amazon an amazing place to shop:

  • Become a Prime member and you get gifts delivered in two business days, along with a lot of other freebies including free TV show and movie rentals and ebooks to read.
  • To get the best deals on Amazon go to today’s deal and bargain books.
  • Use the Amazon Wish List feature to let your family members create their personal wish lists of gifts they hope you’ll get them. It’ll only take you a few seconds, and a couple of clicks, to find exactly what your loved ones want this Christmas.

After you place an order for an item, you can include a note and get it gift wrapped. Then have the gifts shipped directly to the gift recipients if you are going to be over the road during the holidays.

Best Buy

For electronics including laptop computers, digital cameras and video game consoles, Best Buy remains at the top thanks to their in-store Geek Squad. The Geek Squad services computers and does repairs, which adds value to your electronic purchases. Best Buy online includes a much wider selection than their bricks-and-mortar locations. This helps Best Buy stay in competition with Amazon and other electronic website stores.
Check Best Buy’s seasonal offers, such as unlimited free shipping for the holidays. If you are searching for a gift for a special someone, but you are out of ideas, go to the top of the Best Buy’s home page and click on Gift Ideas. Here are gifts for men, women, teens, kids, pets and families. You also get a list of the most desired tech gifts of the season. For 2015 the top winners are:

  • Fitbit for individuals interested in keeping tabs on their health
  • Apple Watch, which adds the Fitbit’s fitness information to a timepiece that allows you to operate your iPhone using the watch
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Tablet with attachable keyboard

If you are doing some shopping for yourself, no judgment as it’s the prime time to purchase items on discount. For a truck driver, the Fitbit will monitor your physical activity, heart rate and calories, all while keeping the time for you as a watch. This is good news for you, and great news for trucking companies, if you’re trying to stay on top of your health. The Apple Watch is a step up from the Fitbit and a highly prized tech piece for Apple fans. The Surface Pro 4 is ideal for truck drivers who want the flexibility of a touch screen tablet for watching videos or using Google Maps, as well as the keyboard feature for sending and receiving emails.

Wal-Mart

Truck drivers love Wal-Mart. It’s a great place to go to when you need to park overnight without being harassed. Plus it is open 24/7, the best time for a truck driver’s unpredictable work schedule. If you want to show your support for Wal-Mart consider the store’s online shopping site. You can find everything that they offer in the stores, and they have a great in-store pickup option. It’s totally free, and it allows you to shop online, pick out your items, and then have them available to pick up at the next Wal-Mart where you’ll be stopping for the night. Here are the rules:

  • If you place an order prior to 6 pm, it will be ready and waiting for you within 4 hours.
  • If you place an order after 6 pm, it will be ready the following day.
  • You will receive an email stating when your order is ready for pickup.
  • The order will be on hold for 7 days.
  • If you need or want someone else to pick up your order, that is fine. You can either choose someone else as the pickup person when you place the order, or you can change the information after the order has been placed.

Being able to shop online — either using your smartphone, tablet or laptop — gives you the ultimate in flexibility as a truck driver. You can shop from anywhere in the country whenever you have a free moment. Keep in mind this means you are never again off the hook when it comes to gift giving!