Long haul trucking requires time away from family all year-round, but the challenges of truck driving jobs are more pronounced around the holidays. Don't let seasonal worries drag you down or distract you on the road. Stay focused, plan ahead, and make the most of the holidays no matter where you're spending them.
Keep in Touch Creatively
One of the biggest challenges of driving truck over the holidays is the time away from friends and family. You may miss some traditional celebrations due to overtime offerings that are too good to pass up. Find creative ways to keep in touch when you're on the road. Maintaining that connection with your family and establishing a healthy work-life balance is critical for your mental health.
Consider writing small holiday notes for your kids and stuffing them in an advent calendar, so they have a message from you every day of the month, even when you're not there. Skype and Facetime make it possible to both see and hear your family members as you're resting between certain legs of the journey. You can pick up holiday postcards from the various cities you pass through to give your family a little excitement when they check the mailbox. Find ways to make your travel fun for everyone.
Prepare for the Weather
The holidays can bring the onset of ice and snow in certain locales. If you're in a part of the country where this is a concern, make sure you're prepared for the complications of long haul trucking in winter weather. Conduct a thorough inspection before you head out, including tire pressure, fluids, and windshield wipers. Make sure you're using the right oil for the season.
Keep an emergency kit of essentials with you at all times. This should include a blanket, bottled water, food, flashlight, battery-powered radio, first-aid kit, chains, flares, and jumper cables. If you're traveling from a warm climate to a cold one, make sure you take a jacket, boots, gloves, scarf, and hat, even though you may not need them when you leave.
Map Alternate Routes
Holiday drivers often get diverted from their intended route due to weather or accidents. Some cities also close off roads or change their routing to redirect the masses of holiday shoppers in certain areas and avoid congestion. Be prepared for some unexpected changes and map alternate routes.
Keep Your Mind Focused
It's easy to get distracted with long lists of holiday to-dos, but this is one of the worst things you can do while you're driving over the holidays. As the weather worsens and roads become congested with holiday shoppers, even an average trip will become more difficult. Make sure you can keep your head in the game by starting your holiday planning early.
When planning for next year, take care of gifts months ahead of time so that you don't have to fret over a last-minute trip. Ask family and friends to lay out their Christmas plans by the beginning of December at the latest so you can mark your calendar, make the necessary arrangements, and stay focused on what's in front of you while you're on the road.
Maintain Your Distance
Even if you're a whiz at winter driving, it's important to remember that other drivers on the road probably are not. Those you're sharing the highway with are often unfamiliar with winter weather conditions, distracted with thoughts of holiday stressors, or lost trying to find a new destination. Keep a little extra distance and watch for dangerous drivers around you.
Time is what you make of it
Though you may miss a few days with your family while you're driving during the holiday season, you can still find ways to enjoy the celebration of time with those you love. Remember that there is no "right" way to celebrate any given event. Eliminate any self-imposed stress of trying to create the perfect holiday setting and make the most of whatever time you can carve out. Reschedule your celebrations, keep in touch from the road, and do what you can to contribute to the fun and festivity.