OTR Trucker Lifestyle: Expectations for Life on the Road

There are many challenges that come with the OTR trucker lifestyle that you should be prepared before you ever attempt to get a CDL.


Jacob Lee
September 29, 2022
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The OTR trucker lifestyle is one that’s filled with many rewarding and fun experiences. As a trucker, you’ll be performing an essential service that the country relies so much upon. That said, you’ll face many challenges as a trucker that you should be prepared to face. 

One thing to expect about the OTR trucker lifestyle is that much of it will be spent in your vehicle. Much of your time will be spent  alone in your cab, picking up and dropping off freight. Fortunately, this solitude will be offset by the sights you’ll see and the many people that you will meet during your travels.

We’ll go into further detail about the OTR trucker lifestyle so you can learn more about what to expect when you become a driver.

1. Living In Your Truck

When out on the open road, your truck is essentially your home during your travels. While the cab of a semi has quite a bit of room for you to move around in, it’s nothing compared to the space you have at your house or apartment. 

Traveling in cramped quarters for weeks on end can be a pretty tough adjustment to make.  However, if you stick it out long enough, driving in your cab will be something that you can get used to. 

One thing that might help make living in your truck a little bit easier is decorating your cab to make you feel more at home. To do that, bring some of the following things before you hit the road:

  • Pictures of friends or loved ones
  • Seat cushions
  • Good sheets and comforter for your bed
  • Good pillows
  • A TV
  • Books
  • Sports memorabilia 
  • Dashboard decoration
  • Review mirror accessory

You don’t need to put all of these items in your truck, but having at least a few of them will make your truck feel a little bit more like home. Our article on truck driver essentials also contains items that you might find very useful during your time on the road.  

And when you’re ready to look for a little more permanence, check out our article on the best cities for truck drivers!

2. A Lot of Alone Time

A truck driver in the back of their truck going through their phone

Another aspect of the OTR trucker lifestyle you need to be ready for is all of the alone time you’ll have. If you’re a person that can enjoy being alone, then the life that comes with a trucking career is definitely for you. 

However, if you crave and need constant interaction with other people in the workplace, then spending hours on the road as an OTR truck driver can be tough. The good thing about being a truck driver is you won’t spend the entirety of your time alone. 

You’ll be meeting people at your stops, and during those times you might be able to strike up a non-work-related conversation with them. 

Many truckers also prefer the alone time and the freedom that comes with that. In fact, in a survey we put out to truck drivers like you, more than a quarter of drivers considered freedom to be their favorite part of driving.

3. Long Wait Times

Driving a semi-truck isn’t all about hours of driving on open roads. There’s a lot of waiting around in the trucking industry. With all the miles you’ll be traveling during your hours of service, you’re bound to run into some less-than-favorable traffic conditions that could slow you down or even stop you completely. 

The times you’ll be doing the most waiting is when you’re waiting to be loaded or unloaded. Unfortunately, distribution centers can get behind in their operations, causing you to wait longer before you’re loaded up and back on the road. 

Knowing you have somewhere you need to be while you do all this waiting can be stressful, so try your best to fill the time you have doing something positive like:

  • Exercises
  • Stretching 
  • Reading the books you brought with you
  • Playing some phone games
  • Using some relaxation techniques

These are just a few options, but there are plenty of other activities you can partake in to help pass the time you spend waiting for your truck to be loaded and unloaded. That said, we have some of the best exercises for truck drivers if you want to stay as active as possible while out on the road. 

4. Practicing Safety

Over-the-road truckers have to practice safety while driving. Keeping up on the proper safety practices can be easy early on in your journey. That said, long hours of service can tire you out and cause you to forget. 

Therefore, be sure that you stay on top of simple safety practices that will not only keep you safe, but will keep other drivers on the road safe as well. Some good safety practices that you should never neglect are:

  • Checking blind spots
  • Obeying the speed limit
  • Approaching wide turns with caution
  • Using your turn signal
  • Always staying buckled into your seat  

Another good safety practice to follow before you get out on the road is to follow a semi-truck maintenance checklist. Going through this checklist will make sure that every aspect of your semi is in working order for the day’s journey. 

5. Seeing the Sights

One thing that all truck driving jobs have in common is that it requires you to drive long distances. As an OTR trucker, you’ll be traveling all over the country. While you might not be able to pull over and enjoy the view, you’re still likely to drive through some pretty locations. This is one of the rewarding experiences that you can expect to have as an OTR trucker. 

While this can be an incredible part of the job for some, only about 18% of the truck drivers we polled consider it the best part of the job. What do you think? Fill out our poll and let us know!

Favorite Thing About DrivingResults
Making Money55%
Seeing the Country18%
Results as of November 2023
Survey 3 – Favorite Thing About Driving

6. Staying in Touch With Friends and Family

A truck driver sitting on the bed in the cab of their truck while video chatting with someone

Living the semi-truck lifestyle can put a damper on your relationships with family and friends. One thing that you’ll need to include in your lifestyle as an over-the-road truck driver is taking the time to keep in touch with the people you care about. 

You’ll be busy as a driver, but you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to reach out to the people you love and care about. Some of these opportunities include:

  • Before going out on the road in the morning
  • At night before laying down
  • While waiting to be loaded or unloaded
  • During your meal break

Phone calls are great and texts are convenient when keeping in touch with friends. When it comes to family, video chats are a much more intimate way of communicating. 

7. Dealing With Truck Stop Shenanigans

Semi trucks parked at a fuel station at a rest stop

The truck stop can be a place of stress as much as it can be a place of rest. Whether it’s drivers leaving their vehicles at the fuel island after they finish fueling, or drivers parking carelessly in parking spaces, you’re likely to run into some inconveniences at rest areas. As an OTR trucker, you’ll need to keep your cool and deal with this stress. 

The last thing you want when you get to a truck stop is to be the person causing problems for everyone else. If you want to be an OTR truck driver, then you’ll need to learn some truck stop etiquette.

8. Making Friends Along the Way

Speaking of truck stops, you won’t come into contact with as large of a concentration of truckers than at this location. At a truck stop, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with other drivers. While they might be strangers, it’ll feel good to be surrounded by people who experience the same wins and struggles day in and day out.

9. Various Weather Conditions

Two semis driving on the opposite side of the highway during a rainy night

The weather is something that OTR truck drivers have to be careful of and take into consideration. Since you’ll be traversing the country in your travels, you’re likely to run into a variety of weather conditions. 

The time of the year you’re driving can determine what weather you should expect in certain states. For example, southern states will tend to be rainy during the summer. Northern states, on the other hand, are very snowy during the winter months. 

When you figure out what route and states you’ll be traveling through for your next journey, be sure to pack accordingly. Here’s a compilation of items you’ll need for both the winter and summer:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Warm blankets
  • Tire chains 

You’ll also need to exercise caution on snowy or rainy roads while driving. Check out our article on rainy weather safety tips for truckers.

10. Balancing Your Diet

A tryck driver improving their OTR trucker lifestyle by eating a balanced meal

Truck drivers are constantly tempted by the convenient food options available to them while on the road. With fast food joints available at every exit, it’s hard for many truckers to resist these options. The best way to ensure that you stay healthy is by eating nutritious meals from the moment you start your job as an OTR trucker.

Doing this from the start of your time trucking will do wonders for you later on in your career. For in-between meals, we suggest packing some healthy snacks to keep you satisfied. And for help becoming an on the road chef, check ou our article on truck driver cooking equipment.

Improve Your OTR Trucker Lifestyle With ABCO

As a truck driver with ABCO, we guarantee that you’ll have access to a trucking lifestyle like never before. For example, we offer our drivers flexible schedules that allow them a work-life balance.

According to our poll, 55% of drivers consider money to be their favorite part about driving. At ABCO, we also provide a competitive starting salary for all truck drivers, and an array of health benefits that our truckers can take advantage of. We even offer free stays at our exclusive company resorts!

At ABCO, you’ll be treated with the respect you deserve. Fill out your application today and get the trucker lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

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